Matt Prater shares his life and wisdom

December 11, 2017

Matt is the Senior Pastor of New Hope Church in Brisbane, and his church is unique in that it provides new hope to many homeless and street people, feeding them each week and sharing the good news about Jesus Christ at every opportunity.

 

But Matt Prater is known for more than this.  He appears every week on Vision radio, a dynamic Christian radio which brings incredible teaching and encouragement to thousands of Aussies across the country, through 702 radio stations.  His exciting interviews and laid back style has touched the hearts of thousands of listeners from all walks of life, and Matt is certainly someone who is worth listening to.

 

Here's a little about his background...  From Matt Prater himself (and who else is best qualified to tell you about his life?

Carol and I were married on May 17, 2003. I have three children: Lydia, Joshua and Grace. I was brought up in the Anglican church in Coffs Harbour until I was 12. I then attended a charismatic Baptist church for a few years, and answered an altar call as a 15 year old at a Wesleyan Methodist youth camp. I became born-again and also filled out a card pledging to work in full-time ministry. I started my first Christian radio show on the local secular radio station, and lead a Wesleyan Methodist youth group and high school outreach until I finished school at 18. I was then approached by the local C3 Church Pastor and offered a position as Youth Pastor. The church paid for me to go to Bible College for a year in Sydney. I studied under Pastor Phil Pringle and received a Diploma in Creative Arts majoring in drama and singing.

I then moved back to C3 Church in Coffs and pioneered a youth group for three years, ran a church theatre company, worked at the local radio station selling advertising to pay the bills, and continued my radio show. I then served as Youth Pastor for 3 years at the church I was raised in, a charismatic Baptist Church in Coffs Harbour. During that time I continued Bible College via correspondence.

I then moved to Brisbane, and worked for a company selling websites. During that time the company that employed me went into liquidation. I felt like Job where everything was taken away. But in that valley, I saw the Lord more clearly than ever. I attended Vineyard church Pine Rivers. I was running Alpha courses, preaching & served as Treasurer for a season.

Carol was brought up in Brisbane in the Methodist and Uniting Church. She stopped attending in her late teens and spent some years in the world. She has worked in management positions in a large multi-national company and one of Australia’s two telecommunications companies. After wandering away from the Lord Carol returned to church at the age of 26. She returned to the Lord and worked through areas of her past that needed healing. She spent ten years at the Vineyard church since it was a church plant and served in areas of child care, greeting and babysitting. She ran several Alpha courses and led many to the Lord through the Alpha course.

In that time, I also was invited to preach the gospel to high school kids and speak at business and church functions quite regularly. I am a passionate evangelist. Carol and I also ran very successful Alpha courses at the radio station and saw a few come to the Lord.

I would ring Pastor Phil at New Hope Brisbane and say, “I’m sending some people to your church on Sunday. They live too far away from my church, can you look after them?” I also referred a lot of my friends and clients to New Hope. We had been to the launch of New Hope Brisbane and loved it, but felt God wanted us to keep serving at our home church. We would pray and ask the Lord regularly about joining New Hope Brisbane. In October 2006, I felt the Lord say, “Do an evangelistic work in the City.” So after much prayer and discussion we left the Vineyard Church with the blessing of the pastor, who had the church lay hands on us and bless us to do a new work for the Lord in Brisbane.

I had always felt called to be a pastor. I had felt the Lord was calling me to bear much fruit. I launched a radio show called History Makers, interviewing successful people about their faith. It is now played weekly on over 600 Australian stations, and in NZ the UK and U.S.

I got involved in the management team at New Hope Brisbane in the area of community outreach. I love the heart of the church, the preaching style, worship, drama and multimedia. And being a young, vibrant, growing church, we feel right at home.

When I called Carol and told her about the opportunity to serve the Lord at New Hope Brisbane she spent several days praying and crying, seeking the Lord for a confirmation, that this would be the right time for me to take on the role of Senior Pastor. We were watching the Glorify DVD from New Hope Oahu and she felt like we weren’t worthy, and she felt the Lord say that “he is worthy, and he makes us worthy.” She also watched a sermon from Hillsong’s Brian Houston, and he preached on indifference using the scripture about the man who was plowing, that he should never look back. She felt a confirmation that God was saying, “Now is the time!”

Since I was first asked to pray about becoming Senior Pastor at New Hope Brisbane I have had a lot of confirmation and affirmation from friends and family. We feel like everything the Lord has taken us through has prepared us to pastor at New Hope Brisbane. I love to preach, and evangelize, I love the creative arts and I have an entrepreneurial spirit. Most of all, I feel that the Lord has given me a shepherd’s heart to love and serve the people of Brisbane. I believe that he is going to do a great and mighty work through the people of New Hope Brisbane, and my prayer is the same as that of Isaiah “Here am I, send me.”  

So settle back and listen to Pastor Matt Prater

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Peace on Earth, or Pieces on Earth?

December 4, 2017

It is nearly Christmas. Soon you will see chubby old men in red suits, pine trees covered in fake snow and occasionally a manger scene with the caption “Peace on Earth”. As we lead into the holiday season, I want to examine what this caption is really talking about, because most people would suggest that seeing Peace on earth for mankind is something of a false hope.

 

Luke 2:10-15 (ESV Strong's)

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

 

 

WHAT PEACE?

 

 

As human beings, it seems we know nothing about peace at all!

 

Over the past 3,400 years of human history, there have only been a reported 268 years of peace. In the twentieth century alone more than 105 million people have been killed in wars, and even as we speak today men, women and children are losing their lives in conflicts across the globe, many of which are so mundane they fail to rate a mention in our news.

 

Mankind loves conflict. Just look at families! When the Bible says Peace on earth, what on earth is it talking about?

 

 

PIECES ON EARTH, NOT PEACE ON EARTH

 

 

We live in a fallen world, where we talk often about peace but never obtain it. We strive for peace, but only ever grasp at the illusion of peace, like a mirage where the closer we get to peace, the further away it actually seems.

 

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain visited Munich in 1938 to meet with Hitler, who was continually posturing towards war by taking land from surrounding countries like Czechoslovakia. He was given an assurance that no more demands would be made, and he returned to Britain holding aloft the written assurance and proclaiming “Peace in our time.” A year later, the largest and most devastating war in human history erupted… Peace was never further away!

 

Even today Peace is illusive. I remember watching the wall come down in Berlin, seeing the demise of Communism and thinking, “Now we will have peace.” The Cold War was over, but enter militant Islam and the war on terror replaces it. And here’s the joke… Islam actually means peace, but I have never seen a less peace loving crowd than Islamists!

 

We don’t have peace on earth, we have pieces!  Let’a look at the passage

 

Luke 2:14 (KJV Strong's)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

The KJV, which some believe is the true translation, gets this very, confusingly wrong. It implies that peace and good will is proclaimed to all men, but this is not the meaning of the passage.

 

Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

This passage is proclaiming peace to those with whom He (God) is well pleased. The peace that the angels offer isn’t for everyone, it is only for those with whom God is please, those who have received Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Saviour.

 

We live in an evil world, controlled by evil people, so there cannot and will never be Peace on earth for all men until Jesus returns.

 

When these words were spoken by the angels to the shepherds, Roman Peace (Pax Romana) had been in effect since 27 BC. Prior to this, the Romans had invaded countries, slaughtered some people, enslaved the rest and declared peace! But the absence of war does not guarantee peace.

 

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.”

 

The Jewish word shalom (peace) means much more than a truce in the battles of life. It means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, and completeness. It has to do more with character than circumstances, and it is more about inner peace than the absence of external conflict. Life at this time was difficult, just as it is today. Taxes were high, unemployment was high, morals were slipping lower, and the military state was in control. Roman law, Greek philosophy, and even Jewish religion could not meet the needs of men’s hearts. So, God sent His Son!

 

I WANT A PEACE OF IT!

 

Look at our society today. There is war across the globe, but there is war here in our society as well.

 

We face a war against morality, where militant gay activists have just won a battle. It’s a war against the sexes, it’s a war against our children. There’s no peace here. Those of us who hold to God’s view of marriage and the family are attacked constantly, but even among the LGBT community, is there peace?

 

According to their own figures, and even with the media totally on their side, gay young people are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide, and transgenders are 11 times more likely. Almost half of transgenders attempt suicide, whether they make the transition or not, so you cannot tell me that these folk have peace. They proclaim their sexual freedom, but inside they are torn to pieces by conflict, guilt and shame.

 

Families are torn apart more than ever before… that’s not Peace is it? Unions and employers bicker, husbands and wife’s fight, kids and parents argue… there is no peace in our society, even at Christmas!

 

And Advertising screams at us all the time, “Buy this, get this, do this,” but none of it gives a feeling of peace that lasts. You might have the most wonderful holiday, and you still have to come home to reality, right?

 

The way to inner peace is not demanding and getting your own way! One of life’s great paradoxes is that more you fight, the more you claw and scratch, the more you demand, the less peace you get.

 

Isaiah 48:22 (ESV)

“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

 

In the absence of God, if you do not know Jesus, there is no peace! I didn’t say it, God says it. And if you look around at this world this Christmas, you can verify that it is 100% true.

 

But Paul writes this…

 

Romans 5:1 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

True peace, peace with God, and peace within ourselves. That’s what the angels proclaimed at the first Christmas… Find the promised child and you will find true peace. Look at what was predicted for the birth of Jesus…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (KJV Strong's)

 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:

and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,

The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

 

There’s that word again… Peace! In a world full of conflict, full of fear for ourselves, our nation, our futures, our country’s morals, our finances, our families, in a world full of selfishness and sin and fear, we can find peace. This Christmas, you can experience true peace, inner peace, lasting peace.

 

PEACE FROM WHAT?

 

 

Life is full of worries and anxieties. As Christmas approaches, do you feel anxious? Worried about finances, worried about family interaction, worried about being alone this Christmas?

 

People fear all kinds of things. When this is focussed and irrational, we call it a phobia. And phobias come in bewildering variety…

 

Xanthophobia- fear of the colour yellow

Turophobia- fear of cheese

Omphalophobia- fear of bellybuttons

Pogonophobia- fear of beards

Frigatriskaideaphobia- fear of long words (ironic)

Papa phobia- fear of the pope

Hylophobia- fear of trees and woods

Coulrophobia- fear of clowns (I think we can all relate to that), and here’s a modern one…

Nomophobia- fear of being without mobile phone coverage, and according to experts, more than half the people in our country suffer from this!

 

Some of you here fear many things as Christmas approaches.  Who among us does not have financial fear, worried that we have enough money to celebrate Christmas and get presents for the kids or grandkids. Many have anxiety about getting the family together and the inevitable conflicts.

 

John 14:27 (ESV Strong's)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

 

HOW CAN YOU FIND REAL PEACE THIS CHRISTMAS?

 

You won’t find peace in this world. Politicians cannot debate and give us peace, lawmakers cannot legislate Peace. Pop stars can’t give it to you by songs, actors cannot fool you into it, and even religion can’t create peace in your life (even if it calls itself peace while it’s blowing you up!).

 

Only Jesus, only a relationship with Him, only having His Holy Spirit living within you can give you peace. So let’s have a look at some of the anxieties you face this Christmas, and not what I say about peace, but what Jesus offers you this morning…

 

1.      PEACE IN LACK

 

If you are worried about finances this Christmas, and I number myself among these, then Jesus knows and understands.  We worry so much about acquiring and enjoying the things of this world, but worry is like a rocking horse… it keeps your mind occupied, but you don’t actually get anywhere.

 

Matthew 6:25-27 (ESV Strong's)

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

 

Stop, look at your life right now. Can you add even a single hour to it by worrying? Nope, no one can.  But I have discovered a great key towards stopping worry and anxiety about money and stuff in my life. And I’m not even that clever, because a few verses later, Jesus tells us the answer…

 

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

This is a Christian paradox that I have proven true many times… if you worry about, obsess about and strive for money, things, clothes and food, they seem to elude you. If you seek first His Kingdom, if you set your mind on loving and drawing close to God, these things seem to come along almost miraculously. And if they don’t, you don’t care because you are more concerned with God!

 

Paul wrote

 

Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

 

You can have peace, true peace and contentment whether you have a lot or a little this Christmas!

 

2.      PEACE IN CONFLICT

 

For those worrying about family conflict, whatever is arrayed against you, you can have peace in the midst of all that conflict. Do not fear this Christmas, but listen to what the Lord says about conflict…

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

A sound mind is self control. How many of you know that, when the family gets together, it only takes one misplaced word and things escalate from there. Listen, some of you have to learn the power of shutting your mouth. The power of holding your tongue, no matter how offended you might be!

 

No matter what others are saying around you, you can choose to remain silent and not escalate the situation. This Christmas, if you are worried about conflict, try being self controlled and remaining silent. Let them rant and rage… if you focus on Christ you will be an island of peace is a sea of stressed out conflict!

 

 

3.      PEACE IN BEING OVERLOOKED

 

Every Christmas many of you feel overlooked. Overlooked by family, maybe kids who have their own family. Some of you are dealing with broken families, separation, and some of you here just feel desperately, desperately lonely, especially at Christmas time.

 

Psalms 68:5-6 (NIV-WS)

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

 

If you are feeling lonely and overlooked this Christmas, defender

Ess, fatherless, lonely, remember that, whatever your family situation, you have a church family who loves you, right here at Ignite.

 

Please don’t be consumed with worry and loneliness this Christmas. You are important, and you will not be overlooked forever.  God says,

 

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

 

So today, if you are lonely or overlooked, don’t look at those around you, look up at He who gave His life for you! And cast your anxieties on Him.

 

4.      PEACE IN PAIN

 

Hurt people hurt people, and if you are in pain, or close to someone who is, chances are you’ve been tempted to or have already blamed God and attacked others around you.  I’ve seen people struggling with health problems, or dealing with separation and broken relationships, blame God, when it is His expressed desire to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Pain, hurt, sickness and separation are not God’s fault. The devil and man’s sinful nature are responsible for all the evil and pain you see around you. Sometimes God allows this to happen, but He always has a greater plan to build your life and your character.

 

But this Christmas, how can you be at peace, even in physical or psychological pain?

 

Psalms 34:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

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

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

 

Turn to Jesus this Christmas and allow Him to save your crushed spirit. Though you may have many afflictions, God can be relied upon to deliver you from all of them, so you can have perfect peace even in pain and suffering this Christmas. Trust Him, and take your eyes off the pain!

 

 

5.      PEACE IN UNEXPLAINED FEAR

 

 

Some of us only ever feel fear when we think of Christmas, not peace!  Sometimes we are overwhelmed by worry, and we are not even sure what it is that’s causing it!

 

When Franklin D Roosevelt came to power in 1933, he faced the depths of the Great Depression. In his inaugural speech, he said these words… “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and this is the very nature of the fears and anxiety that plagues us this and every Christmas.

 

Psalms 91:5-7 (ESV Strong's)

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

 

If you feel like you are fearful of just about everything, maybe you’re not even sure why you fear, then you need to come before the Lord in prayer and ask Him to conquer the fears and anxieties and surround you with peace…

 

HOW TO FIND PEACE IN YOUR HEART AND MIND

 

Peace is as illusive for us to find in our own heads as it is to find it out there in the world. It is like chasing a rainbow… if there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the closer you get, the further it seems to be away.

 

So this Christmas, how can you find perfect peace no matter what the holiday season brings?

 

Picture this… it’s late at night, you are worried about tomorrow’s troubles, you can’t sleep. You try to still your mind, but it races at 100 miles an hour.

 

Does this ever happen to you?  You know that 90% of what you worry about never even occurs, but you cannot tell your brain that, right?

 

1.      PRAY

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

So step 1 is to pray, when you are worried and anxious, take your eyes off the circumstances and place them firmly in Jesus. Praying is just talking to God, but when you start to pray, when you confess your worries (because after all, they are sin), and when you hand the whole situation over to God, you can experience perfect peace flooding your soul.

 

2.      READ

 

The very next verse in Philippians shows you how to obtain this perfect peace. It’s not by watching TV, it’s not by taking medication.  The peace that actually guards your hearts and minds and protects you against worry and anxiety…

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

If you read His Word, if you meditate on all those things. You begin to think about what it says. Then you take your eyes off the circumstances and place them on Christ, and you will experience peace. Reading the Bible every day slowly but surely changes how you think, speak and behave. Having Scripture in your heart guards it against attack, and allows peace to settle.

 

It sets your mind on God, and when you turn your eyes upon Him, everything around you grows strangely dim.

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

 

How can you trust someone you do not know? If some guy in the street asks me for $50, I’m likely to say no. If my wife asks me, I’m likely, indeed compelled to say yes. What’s the difference? One I know and trust, the other is unknown.

 

Read God’s Word and get to know Him, and peace will flow through you this Christmas.

 

3.      FELLOWSHIP

 

When we join our hearts together, there is a supernatural strength. That is what Church is about. It’s not about singing, preaching or raising money, it is about worshipping together and supporting one another.

 

People often say to me, “I love Jesus but hate Church.” I understand this , but they are missing out on a level of faith and peace you just cannot find by yourself. God made us to become His body, joined together. So this Christmas, don’t hate Church, just find the right one because your peace will be increased if you do.

 

 

People often think Church is about a great experience, and large churches have lights, smoke machines and world class entertainment. You can attend, sneak out afterwards and not have to do anything. But that’s Christian entertainment, folks, not Church. Church is about being connected, not being a consumer!

 

But what many people today really need is not a great experience , they need a family of believers who stand with them. The believer is encouraged to put on the full armour of God…

 

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

 

The shield Paul has in mind is a Roman shield, which was not used by itself but with other soldiers, forming a wall of shields. Your faith can protect you a little when you are isolated and by yourself, but when joined with others in the church you have some serious protection from the enemies flaming darts.

 

PEACE, MAN, PEACE

 

 

So this Christmas, the world cannot offer you peace, but God can. You can let the peace which passes understanding guard your heart and your mind right now.

 

But you must understand this… The peace of God is a gift; it is not something we can manipulate and it’s not something we can preorder from a catalogue or a website, because it is the fruit of being one with Him.  It is the result of letting go and letting God control and worry about what is happening in your life.

 

When our relationship with Jesus is strong and adversity strikes, we do not have to fall apart or give in to worry and anxiety. We can choose, and notice that it is a choice, we can choose to live in the steadfast and rock solid confidence of His love, His wisdom, His power, and His provision.

 

This is the basis of His unshakable peace—not that we are capable of controlling circumstances, but that His help is ever-present and perfect to deliver us in every challenge we face. True peace is inner peace with God, regardless of the circumstances, and even in war we can be at peace.

 

So this Christmas, let not your heart be troubled. Let the peace of God flood your life. 

 

If you are dreading something about this Christmas, if you have fear, anxiety, worry or anything else, this is you moment to have us stand with you and pray for peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased.

 

But if you don’t think God is pleased with you, if you don’t know Him or if you have been running from Him, or ignoring a Him, then we need to solve that first.  If you are far from God, or have never asked Him into your life, this is your moment

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Lessons from the Lamps 4- False Prophecy

November 27, 2017

I want to continue the series I have been doing looking at the seven churches in the book of Revelation. So far we’ve seen Christ address Ephesus where He talked about losing your first love, Smyrna where He commended them for enduring suffering with patience, and Pergamum where Jesus demanded they turn away from false teaching.

 

The next church is similar to the last, and because it has the longest discourse, I am going to concentrate on a few specific areas today, relevant to us as modern Christians.

 

 

Revelation 2:19-24 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.

 

We could pursue a number of ideas here, but surprisingly today, I want to explore 2 aspects of the passage… tolerating and the question of prophecy in the Church. Is it still valid today, if so, how do we pick the false prophetic words from the real, and how can we as a Church encourage the true gift of prophecy in a way that is powerful makes sense and is not weird, screwy or bizarre? 

 

This is worth exploring, because as a pastor I have many prophetic words given to me by a variety of people. Many of them I know and trust. Some of them, I have very little reason to trust, or I have no idea who they are, yet apparently God has given them a word for me.

 

The so called gift of prophecy is often misused by people to manipulate a situation to get what they want.

 

But first, let’s talk briefly about tolerance…

 

TOLERANCE- WHEN DOING NOTHING IS DOING SOMETHING

 

The first thing that strikes me about this passage is verse 19, where Jesus says that He say this against them, that they tolerate this evil woman Jezebel. So before we look at her, and prophets in general, make sure you see the big picture… this Church is not bad, it is not cold, it is not backsliding, in fact half of the Church is commended. The big issue is that they tolerate evil.

 

This has never been more evident in the church in Australia than right now. In the recent vote, I was not surprised by militant gay people wanting to hijack the word marriage, I was not even surprised by the incredibly biased media in this country. But I was stunned that Christian churches came out in support of what is clearly a non Biblical idea.

 

Edmund Burton once famously said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And he was right!

 

Some church leaders actually believe that this vote was about giving the poor homosexual community a fair go. Problem is, to do this they are prepared to throw out Romans 1:24,26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:9-10 plus numerous references throughout the OT and just use John 3:16, For God so loved the world.

 

I’m not mad that the no vote lost, I expected it. I’m not going to let my head drop because the country made a bad choice, because I see this not as a disaster, but as the greatest opportunity for the Church of God to stand tall and proclaim truth and shine when all around is dark!  I’m believing that the persecution we now face will see revival in this nation.

 

But what I am most upset about is the compromise from church leaders in the name of peace and tolerance!  Listen, if we as believers are actually going to make a difference, we have to stand for what is Biblical and right, and never waver or compromise…

 

1 Peter 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 

So let me say it again: I do not believe, regardless of what they legislate, that same sex marriage is a marriage in the sight of God. I also believe, regardless of what the media might say, that God created us male and female and He does not make mistakes. You can add bits, you can chop bits off, but at the end of the day you are XX or XY.

 

However, I also believe that God loves gays and transgenders, and therefore I also will love them. I don’t agree, but we need to separate agreement and unconditional love. I have gay friends, I love them but I don’t agree with them. I have transgendering people I know, my love for them is unconditional, but I do not agree with them.

 

The Church in Australia is under the secular spotlight like never before, and some of our brothers believe compromise is the way to go.  You might fashion a social argument for this action, but not a Biblical one! If you believe God, and believe in what we have always known as the family, the answer to the greatest social attack in our history is not to compromise and tolerate sin for the sake of popularity or public opinion.

 

The only thing standing between Australia and total disaster and destruction is those who choose to stand in the gap for their people.  We must never compromise in loving gay and transgender friends, but we must also never compromise on the truth.

 

Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV Strong's)

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

 

Let judgment start with the house of God, and let God find more than one to stand for what is right in this church!  

 

YOU JEZEBEL!

 

 

So while Christ commended this church for their love, faith and service, and also their patient endurance, He had some scathing things to say.

 

Thyatira was 30 miles inland from Pergamum, and was not a city as such but a military outpost, guarding a main road. However, it was famous for wool and dyes, and had the same set up with pagan guilds. Remember, if Christians did not acknowledge Caesar as Lord, they were excluded from the guilds and therefore could not make a living.

 

These believers were asked to count the cost of calling Jesus Lord, and it cost them in many ways, financially especially. They stood firm on this big issue, but look what Jesus says to them…

 

The crisis here in this church revolves around one particular lady, referred to here as Jezebel.

 

When we call someone a Jezebel, we are implying that they are using sex to lure men away from the right path, but this summation is only partially true. Jezebel, probably not her real name, was a self proclaimed prophetess, and this description of her is based on her namesake from the Old Testament, so let’s look back at her…

 

1 Kings 16:31 (ESV)

he (Ahab) took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.

 

From the first mention to the last, Jezebel was a nasty piece of work. She invited her husband and indeed the whole northern kingdom to leave worshipping God and start worshipping Baal, a demonic God. She was a murderess, and used sex and control to manipulate her weak husband Ahab and corrupt the entire country.  Even to the end, where we read…

 

1 Kings 21:25 (ESV)

There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

 

So when Jezebel is mentioned here, it harps back the the Jezebel of old, a scheming, cunning, evil woman who used sex and control to manipulate others, and called it prophecy and the voice of God.

 

The Thyatira church’s sin was not that they were evil, but that they tolerated evil! And they tolerated a false prophetic voice within their church. We have many prophetic people in our church, and I cannot think of one of the current crop who is a false prophet. But when you have a vibrant, alive, Spirit filled church like Ignite, sooner or later you will attract some crazies, so you would want to know that your pastor and leadership are vigilant and on guard against falsity, right?

 

WHAT DOES FALSE PROPHECY LOOK LIKE?

 

 

Prophecy is simply delivering the words of God, and it can happen using visions, dreams, prophetic words or even actions.  I want to hear what the Lord is saying to us, don’t you?

 

There are very few gifts that have caused more pain, more separation and more destruction in churches that the gift of prophecy. Most pastors I know refuse to give prophetically gifted people any scope at all. So does this mean that we throw the whole gift away?

 

No! I believe that God has a prophetic voice to His people today. In fact, while some people might have a prophetic anointing, I also believe that all of us can hear God if we truly draw close to Him. Hearing the voice of God is not the exclusive domain of so called prophets, but many people with a prophetic gift bring great blessing to this church every week.

 

In Revelation, this self appointed prophetess, a woman equated with the OT Jezebel, used sex and the temptation to eat the wrong foods to control and manipulate they Church.

 

And today, I have witnessed many times so called prophets delivering messages that they claim are from God, but are really attempts to manipulate a situation to suit themselves. We must be on our guard, because if we genuinely want to hear God we are also open to this abuse.

 

These people have an opinion, but instead of stating their opinion, they use words like, “God told me, God showed me, and Thus saith the Lord.”  If someone claims God told them something, that negates your right of reply, because who are you to go against God.

 

The gift of prophecy is still valid today, but I want to have a look at what is genuine prophecy, what is the flesh and how we can still be blessed by this ministry while including safeguards against falsehood.

 

The gift of prophecy is a legitimate gift, and one of the possible gifts of the Spirit (201), so if we write this gift off entirely as many churches do, we miss out on tremendous blessing.  But how can we as believers pick the real deal?

 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV Strong's)

but test everything; hold fast what is good.

 

Here’s some of the warning signs to look for in people who claim to have a prophetic gift?

 

 

1.      THEY ATTRACT DEVOTED FOLLOWERS

 

In Revelation Jesus says…

 

Revelation 2:21-23 (ESV Strong's)

I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.

 

False prophets have children. They have a band of disciples and tend to gather people willing to be manipulated. It happened with Charles Manson and Jim Jones, and it also happens in the church today. I have seen prophets, genuine and otherwise, gather a travelling band of ardent believers that follow like groupies as they move around.

 

And most of the prophetic groupies I’ve ever seen are not an integral part of any local church. They are consumers, wanting the good things of God but giving nothing to the church or to others. Most are too busy chasing what they think is God to connect with a local group of believers, and actually be used by God to make a difference in this world!

 

 

2.      THEY CHASE SIGNS

 

Signs and wonders are often seen in Church. These things are not dead, for we serve a living God. Jesus and the apostles in Acts frequently saw signs and wonders, which included healings, miracles and other wonderful events.

 

Hebrews 2:4 (ESV Strong's)

while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

 

Prophetic words are often one of those miracles. But some prophetically inclined people come up with all sorts of so called signs and wonders, including gold dust or diamonds falling, coins sticking to walls, gold appearing in teeth or angel feathers falling from the sky.  Here’s my problem… none of this is in the Bible!

 

And what’s more, people search for and almost lust after these kinds of tacky signs thinking it’s God. Listen to what Jesus said when the religious leaders demanded a sign…

 

Matthew 12:38-39 (ESV Strong's)

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

 

And in case you don’t get this, Jesus later says this…

 

Mark 13:22 (ESV Strong's)

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

 

I believe in the miraculous and I too want to see signs and wonders in our church, but I would rather see salvation, healings and God’s provision than cheap parlour tricks!

 

 

3.      THEY CLAIM SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE

 

The early Church was plagued by Gnosticism, a heresy directly attacked by Jesus in the passage of Revelation we read. Gnostics claimed to have “secret revelation”, and if they were challenged by anybody their position was, “Well I can hear God and you can’t, so you need to listen to me!”

 

This is why Jesus said,

 

Revelation 2:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.

 

False prophets claim to have special, insider knowledge, that they hear God better and more accurately than others, and there is no humility here! I’ve had prophetic people claim to be the eyes and ears of God, I’ve had people tell me that I am not hearing God because I disagreed with what they think God is saying. This is simply humility, not servanthood and it’s not right!

 

If we listen we can all hear God, and the most effective prophecy I have received in this church has confirmed what God has already said to me personally, because I believe I can hear God too. Beware of people claiming secret or superior knowledge.  God says,

 

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV Strong's)

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

 

 

4.      THEY DISENGAGE FROM THE CHURCH

 

 

False prophets are rarely an integral part of any church. I have seen people who think they have a prophetic gift disengage from church, pull away from people, pull out of teams and become lone wolfs, answering only to themselves or a select group of like minded people.

 

1 Corinthians 14:3 (ESV Strong's)

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

 

If prophecy is a gift given to edify others in the church, how can you do this if you disengage from church?  True prophetic anointing serves the church, is submitted to the church and edifies the people in the Church, just like teaching, worship leading, helps to mercy all serve within the church.

 

 

5.      THEY ARE OFTEN STRANGE OR UNCONTROLLED

 

 

Prophetic people can be a little weird. Isaiah stripped off his clothes and wandered around naked, Jeremiah His his undies in a rock they later went back to retrieve them, Ezekiel lay on one side for 390 days and didn’t speak for years, and Hosea married a prostitute.

 

So prophetic people can often be odd, and hence they find it hard to fit in with regular folk.

 

New Testament prophecy is a lot less weird, but again we need to hold our behaviour up to a Biblical standard. Some people shake, wiggle and scream. I’m not saying it’s not God, but I am saying it is weird! Some prophetic people claim the Spirit wells up inside them and they cannot control their actions, but that goes directly against what Paul teaches…

 

1 Corinthians 14:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

 

The true prophetic voice today isn’t weird, it isn’t embarrassing, and it isn’t out of control… it’s encouraging, it serves the body and it is in order.

 

 

6.      THEY DO NOT BUILD UNITY

 

 

When this Jezebel like, self appointed prophetess rose up and started sprouting “Thus saith the Lord,” unity was destroyed in the church at Thyatira. False prophets divide and destroy churches, and fail to come under authority, often leading rebellions against the Church leadership.

 

Ephesians 4:11-13 (ESV Strong's)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

 

These gifts must promote unity, not divide and destroy what God is building. And in order to build unity, we cannot be lone wolves and a law unto ourselves, but we must work together to build the body of Christ.

 

 

MAXIMISING PROPHETS

 

When people pray every Sunday, prophetic words flow. So in this church, I want to see more and more people praying and encouraging others with words, visions and scripture.

 

This is not weird or strange, it’s normal Spirit filled living.

 

How can we develop the true prophetic gift in our church?

 

1.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST HAVE OPPORTUNITIES

 

In this church, we are having worship services starting next year where people are going to be able to pray and prophesy in the service.  But please don’t think you can show up every so often and get a public platform to speak to this church. We have prayer groups, we have pre service prayer, and if you’re not part of the team, you are missing opportunities to exercise the gift you think you have, and to have others correct and shape this gift in your life.

 

2.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST BE ENCOURAGING

 

1 Corinthians 14:12 (ESV Strong's)

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

 

NT prophecy must be encouraging, for the building up of the church. If someone has what they think is directive or corrective prophecy, it must be first submitted to the church leadership. So if you think God is rebuking someone or you are telling people God wants them to do something specific, please write the vision down and submit it to the leadership.

 

I’ve heard of people prophesying that men should leave their wives, or that they should sell property, and the result has been broken homes and thousands of dollars loss.

 

 

3.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY

 

In this church, we don’t want lone wolves spreading destruction and disunity. Prophecy should be encouraging.  But all prophetic ministry should be part of the church, and subject to the leaders of Ignite. What I preach is subject to authority, so should our prophetic ministries.

 

1 John 4:1 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 

As a leadership, we have put in place a structure that we believe will safeguard against false prophets. So beware anyone who wants to prophesy, but does not want to be a part of the church or come under the authority of the Church.

 

 

4.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST GROW TRUST AND REPUTATION

 

Matthew 7:16 (ESV Strong's)

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

 

Beware of someone claiming the gifts of the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit. Prophetic people must live godly lives, and in this church they must build a reputation of reliable and anointed prophetic ministry before we will allow them greater scope to prophesy. There at many people here whose prophetic voice I listen to because they have a proven track record. They are part of our church family and have walked the walk.

 

 

 

5.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST KNOW AND USE THE WORD OF GOD

 

If prophecy is speaking the words of God, what is the purest form of prophecy? Scripture.

 

So if you want to grow in this ministry, you had better start reading, studying, memorising and meditating on God’s Word. If I want guidance in my life, or in this church, I want Scripture!

 

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.

 

If you want to develop a prophetic gift, you must centre it on the Word of God. And if you don’t know the Bible, you cannot really get to know God. And if you don’t know God, how can you claim to speak His words? It’s hard work building a prophetic ministry, but if you have The Bible in your heart watch how God uses that to bless others around you!

 

 

GOD SPEAKS TODAY

 

 

We are in the last days, and God is speaking! He speaks through His Word, and He also speaks to us through songs, preaching, circumstances and prophetic things like visions, dreams and words.

 

Never make an important decision based on one solo source of guidance. The great news is that we can all hear Him in our lives, even if we don’t have this gift.

 

I want to encourage you to mot wait for someone else to hear God for you, but press into Him and listen for yourself. Then let others confirm it.

 

 

Joel 2:28-29 (ESV Strong's)

 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.

Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

 

The church at Thyatira tolerated the wrong things, and the wrong person. We must as believers never compromise the Word of God, and the unity of the Spirit, because these are the foundations of a strong, powerful church.

 

We need prophetic people in Ignite, but we need the right ones. People who are humble, people who serve, people who encourage, people who promote unity. With the logos or written Word of God and the Rhema or spoken, prophetic Word, Ignite can and will grow to impact this area for Christ.

 

Today some of you face decisions. Some of you face scary or difficult times. Some of you need to hear the Lord clearly.

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

 

Seek the Lord now, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

If you’re down, discouraged, confused or at a crossroad in life, get enough courage to step forward and seek God now.

00:0000:00

Shaped for the Future

November 21, 2017

One of the things I notice when you’re as old as I am is that no one asks me what I want to be when I grow up. When you get on in years, people judge you on what you’ve actually achieved, not on what you want to do in the future.

 

Kids, on the other hand, are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. A fireman, a doctor, a pastor, the great thing about being young is that there are so many options, so much potential in your life.

 

If you have a dream of doing something great. Something really significant in your life, you will not achieve this just by thinking about it.

 

DESTINY

 

Destiny is often spoken about in hushed tones, and concepts like karma try to tell us that destiny is something that the universe inflicts upon you. But the Bible is quite different. It teaches us that destiny is not something external inflicted upon you, but rather it is the result of a series of choices…

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

 

To every choice we make, there are consequences, either good or bad, and the tricky thing is that sometimes these consequences take a while to manifest themselves. Our nation is about to find this out. On the back of completely biased and one sided media campaigns they made a decision, and I reckon in about 10 years time you will see the fruit of that decision in our children. God says to choose life, and says that you and your seed, your descendants will reap the fruit.

 

But when you are young, you have an infinite range of choices before you. Many of you have a dream of what you would like to become in your life, and like everyone else, whether your  dream comes true is not about the family you’re from, the upbringing you have or the about of money mum and dad make, it’s about your choices.

 

When you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, I don’t know many kids who’s great desire in life is to become a drug addict, or a prostitute, or a homeless person. Yet some do become those things. Why? It’s all down to the choices we make.

 

THE MAKING OF A MASTERPIECE?

 

 

My granddaughter Kayleigh loves playing with Playdoh, and truth be known, so do I.  There is something really cool about taking that slimy, nondescript goo and making something that has purpose and meaning… like a dog, or a bird, or a car.

 

And in some ways, God looks at us like that, especially when we are young.  He can take us as an unformed, slightly gooey mess and make us into a masterpiece!  Back in Bible days, they didn’t have playdoh, but they did have something even more descriptive of what God wants from our lives…

 

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV Strong's)

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

 

If we are like clay in the hands of an expert Potter, then He can make us into anything He wants us to be.

 

GOD SEES THE POTENTIAL

 

 

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.

 

When God looks at you, He doesn’t see you the way you see you.

 

When we look at ourselves, or at others for that matter, we see the raw, flawed materials.  When we look at each other, or when we stand in front of the mirror, the person looking back seems far from perfect, far from worthy and nowhere near greatness. We are born as sinners, and some of us through our lives have sinned more than others, but all of us are sinners.

 

But God, when He looks at us, looks through the muck and mire and rubbish and He sees the great things we could become. He looks at a piece of dirt and sees a pot, or a vase or a plate. He has plans for each of our lives. Plans to prosper us, plans to give us a wonderful future, a hope and a destiny. 

 

You are not a mistake, you are not a failure, and when you are a child it is easier to believe that God has a plan and hope for you than when you are an adult. The great advantage of being grown up is that you know how to mess your life up good and proper!

 

All of us start in the womb, with unlimited potential.  Look at what David wrote…

 

Psalms 139:14-16 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

Today, even if you feel worthless, overlooked, feel like a mistake or you feel like a failure, God sees the potential in you, and He focuses on His desire to create something beautiful out of your life.

 

So how are we all like clay pots?

 

 

1.      GOD USES WHO YOU ARE

 

 

What raw materials does God find to create His masterpiece?  Well, clay is found in the earth, but it is full of rubbish and needs a lot of work before it can be moulded into something wonderful. Let me describe to you what clay is like when it is found…

Clay as it is found in the ground is not suitable for use to make a pot. It is dug out of the ground and brought to the outside of the pottery and allowed to weather for weeks. The dry material is then dumped into a cement-lined tank or wooden trough and covered with water. When the lumps have softened they are stirred in the water until all have disintegrated and a thin slimy mud or "slip" has been formed. Sea water is more effective for this process, so potteries are often close to the ocean.

The slip is drawn off into settling tanks. All stones and lumps are left behind. When the clay has settled, the water is drawn off and the plastic-like material is worked by treading with the feet. The prepared clay is finally packed away and allowed to stand another six months before being used.

The fact is that all of us have lumps and impurities, because all of us have sinned…

 

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV Strong's)

 “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good, not even one.”

 

Every single one of us have dirt and mud and stones and are less than perfect, but God is able to take imperfect people like you and me and do something wonderful in our lives. You might have sin, past failures, a bad upbringing, previous abuse or a physical challenge you face, but God sees through that stuff to what you could be. And like the clay, He may put you through a process that is sometimes difficult and painful, but in the end He transforms your life into the material He can use and make great!

 

 

2.      GOD USES THE RIGHT INSTRUMENTS

 

To complete this process, God is all kitted out with the right gear. He knows what He is doing, because reshaping and reforming your life needs a professional, not amateur hour. So what does He use?

 

A.     THE SHOVEL

 

To extract good clay from your life, God may have to do a bit of digging. He will dig out the rocks and pebbles that must be extracted in order to create material He can use.

 

When we sin, we usually feel so ashamed that we cover it over, just as Adam and Eve covered themselves in fig leaves when they recognised their sin. In our shame we cover our sin, hoping no one finds out, but the problem is that the sin then festers under the surface and productise toxins that poison our lives.

 

Psalms 38:18 (NIV-WS)

I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.

 

We would all recognise that the only way to remove sin and impurities from our lives is to fess up, face the sin and deal with it. Sin causes pain, and unless you deal with it, it will continue to cause pain in increasing amounts.

 

God loves you so much that His Son died for your sin. Jesus came a took the penalty for your sin, not because you deserve mercy, but because in His love and grace He gives you mercy. He loves you so much, He died for you. But He also loves you so much, He doesn’t leave you that way, He extracts the sin and pain and purifies your life.

 

We try and cover sin up, but God says to you today, “Don’t cover up your sin, confess it, and let Me cover it over with my grace and forgiveness.”

 

B.      THE MALLET

 

The next process in refining the clay needs a mallet. Once the clay is dug out, it needs to be pounded. How many of you adults know there are times when life seems to pound you. Things go wrong, your decisions have bad consequences, people let you down and you feel like you are just being pounded on all sides!

 

Listen to what the apostle Paul thought about the various poundings he got in his life (stonings, shipwrecks, being persecuted and left for dead, etc.)

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV-WS)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

I know poundings hurt, I know some of you are hurt and discouraged, but please do yourself a favour and take your eyes off the hurt and pain and set them on Jesus, who loves you and died for you, because then you will begin to see reasons for the pounding in the light of eternity.

 

C.      THE WHEEL

 

A potter uses a potter’s wheel, and the clay is placed on the wheel and spun. The instrument consists of 2 wheels made of stone, connected by a shaft. The potter spins the lower wheel with his feet, and the upper wheel spins with it, and then he is able to mould and shape the spinning clay.

 

Sometimes we feel like we are running on a wheel, like a little mouse. The problem with being in the rat race is that, even if you win, you’re still a rat! Sometimes we feel like we are spinning around and around, spinning our wheels, using lots of energy and getting nowhere in life.

 

Romans 8:28 (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.

 

As we spin around and around, God uses all things, even the sucky ones, to mould and shape our lives. And if we don’t learn the lesson, we get to go around and around forever. My advice is, learn what God wants you to learn early, nimble it and move on.

 

 

3.      GOD REMAKES WHAT IS MALFORMED

 

 

Kids , when you are young you have your whole life ahead of you, but once you are an adult, you can look back on your life and realise that you have made plenty of mistakes. Wrong decisions, wrong choices, wrong relationships. And how many of you know, the Biblical principles of reaping and sowing apply to bad choices as much as to good.

 

Adults have generally lived a bit, loved and lost a bit, sinned a lot and have frequently messed up their lives, sometimes royally!  Maybe you’ve had the wrong relationships, done the wrong things, upset people who love you or missed countless opportunities you should have taken.

 

Look, we’ve all blown it at some stage. But here’s the great news… look at what Jeremiah wrote about when he visited the potter’s house…

 

Jeremiah 18:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

 

God is the potter, and we are the clay. If we try and take over our own lives, if we try to live life our way, if we make mistakes, even huge mistakes that seem to completely ruin our future, God can rework us.

 

It depends not on the clay, bu on he intentions of the potter.  In the hands of the Master potter, even if the clay is marred, it is never wasted. No matter how many critical mistakes you have made, no matter how much sin you have indulged in, no matter how big a screw up you have made of your life, you are never beyond the care and reshaping power of the Master potter.

 

God is in the business of remoulding lives, taking that which has been overlooked and discarded and making something beautiful of it.

 

Isaiah 61:3 (NIV-WS)

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

 

Some of you here are mourning. For some of you, your life is just a pile of ashes. Some of you are even in despair. But God see the beauty in you, even if the person you look at in the mirror is flawed. No matter how old you are, no matter how marred you are, God looks at the clay and mess of your life and can make something beautiful out of it.

 

YOU NEED TO TRUST THE MASTER

 

The final step in the creation of a pot is to place it in the fire. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of the fires of adversity making me complete does not fill me with joy. But God uses the tough times in life to bake our pots and make us harder, stronger, more beautiful.

 

But, in all of this process, you have to trust Him. You cannot dictate terms to God. Frankly, I am sick of people telling God what He needs to do for them, instead of trusting Him and letting the Master shape your life.

 

Romans 9:20-21 (ESV Strong's)

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

 

God is not your performing dog. He is not here to make your life happy, pleasant and comfortable. What he wants is to make your life amazing, powerful and world changing, even if it takes some pain along the way. He longs to make your life valuable, make your life influential. He can mould and shape you into anything. Maybe humble and unseen, maybe into a person who will change nations.

 

The question is not can God make you into somebody special, it is, “Are you ready to trust Him?”

 

I mean, if you’ve been living your life your way, stop right now and have a look at how things are working out for you.  Are you happy with every aspect of your life? Do you think that, if you give your heart completely to God right now, that He could do a better job, that He could create more with your life than you’ve managed to?

 

Kids, are you ready to trust the Lord for your entire future. Are you ready to ask Him in and let Him lead and guide you into what He has for you?

 

PLACE YOURSELF IN THE MASTER’S HANDS

 

 

Let me finish with a beautiful illustration from missionary Amy Carmichael, who was serving in India for many years in the early part of last century. If you want your future to be everything it possibly can be, let me assure you kids, you cannot do it yourself. Plenty of us adults have tried, but it is the height of foolishness to take your pot from the Master thinking you can do better.  Listen to this…

 

This is the story of one who, watching a potter, thought that he could make a pot on the wheel, and tried, but failed:

 

Then the potter said, "sit down, you can make a pot." "That I cannot do, as you see by what I have already done," I replied.

 

"Sit down," he insisted. I did so. Then, sitting behind me, he put his arms over my arms, his hands over mine, his fingers over my fingers.

 

The wheel began to spin. "Do not allow your fingers to resist mine," he advised, and I obeyed. There under my fingers, to my astonishment, grew a beautiful vessel.

 

The wheel stopped and my friend said, "Behold your pot." "Not mine," I said.

 

But the potter said, "Look on your hands; there is clay on your fingers, so they touched the clay, and there is nothing on my hand. Whose hand touches the vessel, that hand makes the pot," the potter said and smiled.

 

May the God of peace…

 

Hebrews 13:21 (ESV Strong's)

equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

The first step towards letting God create an amazing life for you is asking Him into your life as Lord and Saviour. He knows you’ve sinned, and while we were still sinners, He died for us, so if you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, let’s do that right now.

 

The Bible says,

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

No matter what you’ve done in your life, today is the day of salvation. He will never throw you away, but when you ask Him into your life, the old life, with all its sin, guilt, disappointments and worries, passes away.

 

If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, today is the day you can become a new creation. Let’s pray!

 

 

But the second step is this, place yourself in His hands. With no restrictions, no agendas and no resistance.  Just trust Him with every aspect of your life and future.

 

Many of you believers, you say you love God, and you do love Him, but you find it hard to trust Him with your future. I want you to pray this after me and place your hands under His, letting Him mould you and shape you, direct you and provide for you.

 

Don’t fight Him. He places His hands on yours, but you have to relax, stop trying to direct traffic and let Him direct you.

 

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You, Life, God and a Few Other Important Things- Ps Keith Heale

November 21, 2017

Pastor Keith shares on You, your Life, God and a Few Other Important Things, bringing his humour and fun perspective to many of the big questions of life that we face.  A wonderful message not to be missed...

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Lessons from the Lamps 3- Little Compromises

November 6, 2017

We’ve been looking at the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation, and so far we have looked at Ephesus and Smyrna. The next church in our series is at a town called Pergamum.

 

These three towns were royal cities in Asia Minor, Smyrna was the great commercial center, Ephesus was the great political center, and Pergamum was the great religious center. That’s why Jesus referred to this city as “where Satan’s throne is.”  For Ephesus Jesus addressed losing their first love, Smyrna was about faithfully standing under persecution and today’s Church, Pergamum, is about little compromises and this will speak to all of us, wherever we are on the road with Christ.

 

Revelation 2:12-17 (ESV Strong's)

 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Antipas was the first martyr in Asia, tradition says he was slowly broiled alive inside a big pot shaped like a brass bull)

 

But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

 

SATAN’S HANGOUT

 

This city was very much a temple city, and Jesus calls it the throne of Satan. It was the headquarters of satanic opposition and a Gentile base for false religions. On the acropolis in Pergamum was a huge, throne-shaped altar to Zeus. In addition, Asklepios, the god of healing, was the god most associated with the town. His snake-like form is still the medical symbol today. The famous medical school connected to his temple mingled medicine with superstition. One prescription called for the worshiper to sleep on the temple floor, allowing snakes to crawl over his body to infuse him with their healing power.

 

This was an intensely evil and satanic city, and the church at Pergamum was commended for holding fast to their belief in Christ and not denying a Him, even if it meant hardship and poverty like we saw with the Church at Smyrna.

 

And I wonder, looking at our society today, if we are not living in Satan’s hangout too. Look at the stuff being pushed upon us, look at the pressure to compromise our beliefs in God and the family unit. And you know the scary thing? We Christians are at times like the frog being slowly boiled alived… we get so use to sin and debauchery we think it’s normal!

 

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

 

Certainly our society, like the city of Pergamum, is blinded, but the fear is that we Christians will be blinded by the enemy also. Now more than ever we must be on our guard, we must be totally loving to others but totally unbending in what we believe is right!

 

A FEW THINGS AGAINST YOU…

 

Then Jesus goes in the offensive with this Church in Revelation 2:14, and He doesn’t mince words! He equates their acceptance and tolerance of the Nicolaitan sect, which we think was an early gnostic heresy in the church, with a guy from many years past called Balaam. The result of the Balaam thing was the church permitted the eating of food offered to idols and sexual immorality.

 

So they stood up for the big things. They made a stand for what was right in a very dark place. But listen, you can make a stand for Christ but still be compromising. So let’s have a look at Balaam, at the sins of this ancient prophet, and see compromise in all its limited power…

 

BALAAM.. A PROPHET FOR PROFIT

 

Numbers 22… Balak was a Midianite King who was threatened by the presence of the Israelites in their exodus journey. So he summoned a prophet called Balaam and asked Balaam to curse the Israelites. For this he would get riches and honour, and Balaam liked riches and honour!

 

Now Balaam was a prophet who could definitely hear God. We have people in this church whom I believe definitely hear God in this prophetic way. It takes time for us to connect as leaders and learn to trust them, and some of you here I definitely trust with regards hearing the voice of the Spirit. These prophetic people are given by God to be a blessing to the church and to us as a Church leadership, but frankly sometimes they are not a blessing at all. There is a fine line between using a genuine spiritual gift to bless others, and misusing it to further your own desires, opinions or aims, as we shall see with Balaam.

 

Now I want to  have a good look at how Balaam acted in this whole situation, because there are some great lessons we can learn about how we react to God’s clear direction, and how we must use our spiritual gifts to serve rather than self serve.

 

When asked to curse the Israelites, Balaam says he will enquire of the Lord. A good start, don’t you think? But then God says this… and this is pretty clear direction…

 

Numbers 22:12 (ESV Strong's)

God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

 

Now call me crazy but I’d have thought that was pretty definitive. God said no, not maybe, not possibly, but definitely no! Now, notice what Balaam says when he reports back to Balak…

 

Numbers 22:13 (ESV Strong's)

So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.”

 

The implication is, “Guys, I’d love to do it, but the Lord won’t let me.” Is that true obedience? Is that absolute trust and love for God, or is he leaving the door ajar here? Remember, partial obedience is total disobedience!

 

BALAAM… IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…

 

If at first you don’t succeed, sky diving is probably not for you. Some things you just don’t want to persist with, and disobedience is one of them, as Balaam is about to find out!

 

So Balak sent more princes, higher princes with the same request, but notice Balaam’s answer…

 

Numbers 22:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold (hint, hint), I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more. So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.”

 

Now Balaam had already asked God and been given an answer. But he really wanted this, so he thought he’d try again. Maybe he can figure out how to twist God’s arm to get what he wanted!

 

Strangely God gives permission for him to go, but to strictly say only what God commands. Just a chapter later, Balaam Himself prophesies this…

 

Numbers 23:19 (ESV Strong's)

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?

 

Listen, if God tells you no, don’t keep going back asking.  If you want something so bad you’re prepared to keep asking and disobey God, you’re in for a world of heartache! So although God let him get what he wanted, He was super angry at him. And sometimes God is like that… He allows us to reap what we sow and gives us what we want, even though it’s going to cause us pain.

 

I’ve seen people who want a partner so badly they settle for someone God never wanted them to have, and convince themselves that this is their last shot at happiness. The result? Mostly heartache and pain for years. I’ve seen people who will do anything to get ahead in business, and finish up in jail. If God says no, and you keep asking, often the consequences for your sin is simply that He takes His hands off the wheel and lets you get what you want!

 

Romans 1:24 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

 

The Greek word PARADIDOMY for “gave them up” means to yield, to surrender, to let them have their way. Trust me, in life, you will reap what you so, more than you sow, and later than you sow.

 

BALAAM… MAKES AN ASS OF HIMSELF

 

So Balaam heads off, and an angel with a sword is waiting for him. His donkey sees the danger, and tries to save Balaam, but he finishes up beating the ass. Then he has a conversation with his ass, who is not trying to be a pain in the proverbial but is actually more aware of God than the prophet is!

 

When he sees that death awaits him,  Balaam understands at this point that God is angry, and turns and heads home, right? Wrong! Balaam wants his own way so badly, listen to what he says to God…

 

Numbers 22:34 (ESV Strong's)

Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”

 

If it is evil… who is he kidding? Beware if God says no but you persist and get your own way. Balaam was given plenty of opportunities to relent, but he refused, and made an ass of himself! Then in Numbers 23, Balaam pronounces 3 oracles over Israel,  but instead of cursing them he actually blesses them! Balak keeps offering more and more money and honour, but Balaam cannot do what he is asked. This prophet, who had a genuine gift, who could genuinely hear God, used the gift to feather his own nest, to drive his own agenda. For prophetic people, the temptation to use your gift to drive your personal preferences and agenda is very strong. Prophets, learn the difference between your opinion and the genuine voice of God!

 

So Balaam goes home, Balak is angry and the children of Israel are not cursed. But there’s a twist…

 

BALAAM’S END GAME

 

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and so it is with the persistent and insistent Balaam… he had an evil plan. Look at what happens in the very next chapter…

 

Numbers 25:1-3 (ESV Strong's)

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.

 

24,000 Israelites died, because the people compromised themselves sexually and allowed the wrong influence into their lives. But where did this come from? How did Balak suddenly get this alternative strategy for overcoming the Israelites?  I’ll give you one guess…

 

Numbers 31:16 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.

 

Balaam wanted the cash, so while God forbade him to curse Israel, he had a more sinister plan. He made his payday because he advised Balak how he could compromise the Israelites, using Moabite prostitutes to lure them into compromising their walk with God and worshipping Baal.

 

Incidentally, this wasn’t a once off… Balaam continues to be in cohorts with Balak and the Midianites, and was eventually exited with them…

 

Numbers 31:8 (ESV Strong's)

They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.

 

STANDING STRONG BUT WITH SECRET SINS  

 

And so here we are centuries later in the church at Pergamum, and nothing’s has really changed. Satan is still trying to lure this church into compromising, and is using lust to do it! The same applies to today’s church. I believe it is a message for us also.

 

There is a difference between taking a stand and compromising… they are not the same thing. Jesus commended this church in verse 13, (ESV Strong's) “Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith” but then zeroes in on their compromising.

 

 Many fine Christians make a stand on something big, but then compromised in another area. Martin Luther King Jr for example, was a Baptist minister who made a famous and influential stand for civil rights, but he was also a serial adulterer, and the FBI used this to try and discredit him. Aimee Semple Macpherson, a mighty woman of God, prophetess and preacher who started the 4 Square Pentecostal denomination disappeared for nearly 2 week’s, and claimed she was kidnaped. Turned our she had shacked up with a married man. Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, there is a long list of Christian leaders who took a stand in one area yet compromised and were found out in another.

 

If we in this church take a stand in one area, that doesn’t mean the enemy will not attack and try to get us to compromise in another area. In Balaam’s case, and in Pergamum as well, lust was the point of attack. But lust is not exclusively  about sex…

 

1 John 2:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

 

We can compromise by lusting for things to satisfy our flesh, and this includes sex. In a sex soaked world, with sex splashed across every TV screen and the entire internet, there is a constant temptation to compromise in this area.  Men, if you don’t feel the tug to compromise you are living under a rock! We must be diligently on guard!

 

But we can also compromise with the lust of the eyes, where we look at things that others have and long for those.  It might be a car or house or job, it might be their husband or wife, it might be their great marriage relationship or it could be their ministry.

 

And of course, we can compromise in the pride of life. Pride is at the root of all sin, and we most often fail to repent of things we need to repent of because of our pride. Pride gives rise to things like anger, temper, dishonouring others, gossip, and so on.

 

THE LITTLE FOXES, THE LITTLE COMPROMISES

 

So beware any teaching that compromises you, even in the small areas where no one else knows you are sinning. Remember, you can make a giant stand for the Lord but still compromise somewhere else. Now please understand, I’m not saying we never sin, because we are all human, and we all compromise and all sin at times.  But we must be aware of the enemy’s schemes and fight hard to never compromise our walk with God, even in hidden or seemingly insignificant ways.

 

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.”

 

The little foxes, the little sins, they are the ones we overlook but which the enemy uses to bring our walk with Christ down. And aren’t they cute? Hey Lord, I’m basically a good person and I stand for what is right, I voted “no” in the plebiscite and go to Church one week in three, can’t you just overlook the little compromises?

 

I’m a good person, I love the Lord, but yes I still have that temper, I still watch the wrong TV shows, I still get envious and wished I had something my friend has, I still gossip just a little, but hey, God I’m a Christian, right?

 

Listen, 99% faithfulness is by definition unfaithfulness

 

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

Let everyone who thinks they don’t have a problems with small compromises beware! No matter where your life or your ministry is at, we all face the same temptations, and we all are at risk of falling. I remember visiting a man who had morally fallen with a pastor friend, and afterward the pastor suggested that he would never be like him. I actually rebuked this pastor, because that is pride, and we are all sinners saved by grace. Far from arrogantly claiming it would never happen to us, we need to humbly say, there but for the grace of God goes I.

 

Luke 18:11-14 (ESV Strong's)

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Little sins creep in, folks, and we must guard against these little compromises.

 

CONQUERING THE LITTLE COMPROMISES

 

Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor said it this way, “Small things are small things, but faithfulness with a small thing is a big thing.”

 

Revelation 2:17 (ESV Strong's)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

 

The manna speaks of God’s abundant provision, and the white stone is thought to represent victory, because triumphant athletes received a white stone. Interestingly these conquerors receive their reward in secret, very personal, with a name known only to you. The world can’t see these rewards, but we know they are there. Wisdom, character, righteousness, honour, many humble believers receive these, and most of the world misses it.

 

But I am concerned and I believe the Lord is speaking to us about our little compromises, the ones nobody else sees, yet the little foxes are the ones that spoil the vines. These limit our growth in the important things of God, and they can limit our character development and even can leave us exposed to public humiliation. And listen, those little compromises have a habit of growing into bigger and bigger sins, and you cannot hide even the little ones, even the little thoughts from God…

 

Numbers 32:23 (ESV Strong's)

you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.

 

No man sets out to commit adultery and get divorced. It starts with a little look, here and there, a little flirting, and before you realise it you’re hooked. No one sets out to be a gossip, but they start talking about others in small ways behind their backs, and before you know it your reputation is gone. No believer sets out ruin their church, but by pride and grabbing for power many people have destroyed what God was building in a church.  They might gain control of it, but it is spiritually dead!

 

Proverbs 28:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

 

Ignite Church has taken a stand on many issues, and we’ve taken a stand on the big issues of our day including the family, same sex marriage, how our children are taught and abortion.  We know what God’s Word says, and we stand on that 100%, no matter the consequences.

 

But that’s not enough, Church! If we tolerate little compromises in the hidden sins, if we turn a blind eye to little acts of disunity, little conflicts, or little sins no one else even knows about, then we risk losing it all, including our ability to reach our nation for Christ! Our witness for Christ will be destroyed if we tolerate the little compromises.

 

Jim Rohn once said, “Neither a marriage nor a business fails overnight. Cataclysmic failures generally come from a series of small, correctable failures.” The little compromises, not dealt with!

 

STAY ON TARGET

 

Remember Star Wars, and the big attack on the Death Star? The rebel fighters drop into the channel, and the Imperial fighters are shooting at them. I distinctly recall one of the pilots saying over and over, “Stay on target, stay on target.”

 

So I did a little research. Pilots tell us that if they are one degree off course, for every 60 km they fly they will be 1 km off their target. And of course, the longer the flight, the further from the target they will finish up. If a plane is 1 degree off when flying Brisbane to Singapore, as I am about to so this week, we will either land in Indonesia or the South China Sea. I’m kinda hoping they get this right!

 

Yet pilots also tell us that every plane flying is off course 99% of the time. How does any plane travel any distance and arrive at the right place? They constantly readjust their course, and they do not tolerate any little compromises, but when they are made aware of them, they correct them immediately.

 

Sometimes great victories can be undone by seemingly small sins. We need to be consistent in our walk with God, making sure that all areas of our lives are yielded to him. Even the smallest sin or bad habit can lead us off course over time. We consistently need to see the truth of where we are spiritually and ask God to redirect our course back in line with his will.

 

And it’s a constant battle. But the Bible says,

 

Proverbs 4:25 (ESV Strong's)

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

 

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. Little course corrections keep you on target.

 

Little compromises are little turns off course, and we cannot tolerate them if we are to become great for Jesus. I speak to myself as much as to you. Those little compromises, those little foxes will destroy everything if we do not keep short accounts with God. All of us, no exceptions.

 

Balaam compromised a little bit to get what he wanted, the Church at Pergamum, despite their great stand for Christ, let sin in the back door and let those little compromises kill them. I don’t want this to happen to me, or to you, or to our church.

 

STAY ON COURSE DAILY

 

So this morning, I’m going to ask you to clean house in your life. You don’t have to come up here and tell me what the sin is, but I’m asking you to clean it out. No matter how habitual, no matter how embarrassing, no matter how trivial you might consider it, today is the day we deal with the little foxes.

 

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

What little compromise do you need to confess today, to move you back on course? Will you commit to keeping short accounts with God, doing daily quiet times, reading His Word, making those small adjustments to keep on target? Commit or compromise, that’s the choice. It’s always been the choice.

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Lessons from the Lamps 2- Persecution and Poverty

November 1, 2017

I am sharing a series on the 7 churches Jesus prophesies to in the first few chapters of the book of Revelation. The other week we saw a very successful, busy and hard working church at Ephesus, but their problem was that they had forsaken their first love.

 

I hope you fell in love with Jesus once again last week. He is worth being in love with!

 

But this week we want to look at Jesus’ words to the church at a place called Smyrna…

 

Revelation 2:8-11 (ESV Strong's)

To the Church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

 

DYING TO SERVE

 

The Church at Smyrna is one of the two churches Jesus did not rebuke. Why was that? They were suffering, and God has a heart of compassion to those who are suffering righteously. Jesus didn’t commend them so much as express deep sympathy and love for a hurting people.

 

Smyrna was a seaport situated 35 miles north of Ephesus. Jesus’ opening words to this church set the tone…

 

Revelation 2:8 (ESV Strong's)

To the Church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

 

Smyrna in Greek literally means bitter, and is the name for the spice myrrh, which was used as a perfume during burial, famously used when Jesus was buried. So when Christ says He died and came to life, He is playing on the name of their city, and also the fact that some of them would face persecution to the point of martyrdom. Jesus was encouraging this heavily persecuted church to stand firm. He was saying, no matter what they throw at you, no matter what they say, read the end of the book and find out that WE WIN!

 

So what’s with this persecution?

 

SMYRNA- THE POOR LITTLE RICH CHURCH

 

The Church at Smyrna was right in the firing line, because the city was not only a prosperous city, but it was the centre for the Roman imperial cult of Caesar worship. In 195 B.C. a temple to the Goddess of Rome was constructed, and in A.D. 26 a temple to Tiberius was also constructed. These and other temples were built upon a hill which produced a dramatic visual effect, looking like a crown, and the temples were popularly described by the phrase “the Crown of Smyrna.”

 

Anyone refusing the say, “Caesar is Lord” was certainly going to be persecuted and experience hardship, maybe even death.

 

The city was set up around various guilds to whom you had to belong if you wanted to be employed, in much the same way some unions are set up today. To be a part of a guild they required all members to worship Caesar, so anyone refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord was certain to be excluded from the guilds, meaning unemployment and poverty.

 

There was also a large Jewish community in Smyrna, but because they were officially recognised as an acceptable religion to the Romans, they were exempt. And they hated the Christians. The bottom line is that these believers were persecuted by both Jews and gentiles, slandered and condemned to abject poverty in what was a very wealthy city.

 

 And you may be experiencing this even now… persecution for being a Christian, or poverty, when others around you seem to have everything. If this is you today, let me tell you that Jesus cares, just as He cared for the Church at Smyrna. He loves you and has a plan. You just need to trust Him!

 

This church at Smyrna knew what suffering was, and faced even more ahead. Jesus said…

 

Revelation 2:10 (ESV Strong's)

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

 

Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna, and was trained for ministry under the apostle John. He was a close friend of the apostle John, and know as a great and honourable pastor and man of God. During the reign of the Roman emperor Antonius Pius, a great persecution against Christians occurred. When the aged Polycarp was arrested and ordered to renounce Christ, he proclaimed: “I have served Him for 86 years and He has done me no wrong. Can I revile my King who saved me?” Polycarp was then burned alive at the stake. Yes, this Church knew much about suffering, and Jesus was preparing them for even more in the near future, even to the point of death.

 

Think about that… whatever suffering, whatever persecution, whatever poverty you face, it’s unlikely that it will involve death for what you believe in. Yet this Church faced such a prospect with hope and with joy, and their leader set the tone for the Church, as I must for you!

 

 

PERSECUTION AND POVERTY

 

Revelation 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

 

Jesus uses two interesting words here… tribulation is Thlipsis in Greek, and it literally means intense pressure. I would liken tribulation to a python killing its prey. The snake does not squeeze, it tightens and holds the tightening. When you breathe out, it tightens again until there is no breath remaining. This is typical of persecution, especially in our country. They don’t line us up in front of the wall and shoot us, they squeeze and squeeze and try and make us conform to their image of what we should believe.

 

Jesus uses the Greek word ptochaia for poverty, which is a descriptive word which goes beyond being poor to the point of being a beggar… it is the grossest form of poverty. In our country we rarely see true poverty on the scale you might see overseas, but many of us are struggling financially.

 

In many Asian countries I know of, Christians face exactly this situation… they refuse to take part in bribery. This means they miss out on business opportunities, work, and many plunge into poverty as a result.

 

But dude, this is Australia, it’ll never happen here! Well folks, what we are seeing right now is the start of our persecution, and far from being upset or bewildered about it, I believe this is our moment to light up and shine more than ever before. This is our chance to ignite and burn brightly when all around is dark!

 

And what tools will the enemy use in our case? The media, popular opinion, even the government, and what will they attack? They will attack our reputations and they will attack our wealth and finances. This plebiscite is not really about gay marriage, it’s about an attack on the family and the Church. So said Arch Bishop Julian Porteous at our state convention the other week.

 

They’ve already started slandering us, they’ve already started an insane level of attack against Christians on social media, and they will pick on certain Christian businesses try and bankrupt them. They did it to a cake store in Portland, Oregon… we will be no different. They are out to destroy the Church, or render it powerless. Interestingly, Jesus uses 2 different words in verses 9-10 to describe the enemy… Satan and devil. 1. Satan literally means the accuser, and 2. Devil means slanderer. How apt! That’s why in Revelation 12:10 he is called the accuser of the brethren.

 

Slander, Financial pressure and poverty are great weapons in the hands of the enemy… but we need not fear them, or him. They will attack, they will persecute but don’t fear them, because my bible says …

 

1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 

IT’S NOT HOW THEY ACT BUT HOW YOU REACT!

 

The fact is, we live in a fallen world, and bad things happen to good people. And bad people sometimes seem to prevail, even when it doesn’t seem right. Have you ever looked at what you don’t have, and how things are not working out for you, and cried out to God saying, “How come the wicked seem to prevail and the righteous don’t?”

 

That’s exactly the question asked by the prophet Habakkuk..

 

Habakkuk 1:4 (ESV Strong's)

So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

 

Habakkuk 1:13 (ESV Strong's)

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,

why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up

the man more righteous than he?

 

In a couple of chapters, the Lord more or less says, “Let me deal with them, what they have done will not go unpunished.”

 

And then comes the great declaration for faith, and this is how we should approach any difficult time we face. We shouldn’t complain. Or compare ourselves with others, but by faith stand for what is right no matter what they say or do. And no matter what the circumstances!

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

 

That how to face poverty! That’s how to face persecution! That’s how to face the times when things just don’t seem to work out! Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

 

You miss out on that job. You prayed for healing and got sicker. That person accuses you of something you know you haven’t done. You’re down to your last few bucks. You feel you’ve been missed out, misrepresented or misunderstood. You feel overlooked, overstressed and you’re just over it. You feel like the bottom of the pile, the bottom of the barrel, the bottom line is your luck’s bottomed out! No matter what it seems like, no matter what circumstances you face, it’s time you stood up and said with the church of Smyrna and the prophet Habakkuk, “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.”

 

See that’s when God really takes notice. That’s when Jesus is full of joy, when the hard times come and you don’t complain and whinge or accuse God of abandoning you or leading you in the wrong direction. We all face hard times, but this doesn’t bless God, especially if we whine, complain and lash out at others. This Church at Smyrna faced persecution, yet through it all they stayed faithful and true, not compromising, not turning aside to the right or the left, not complaining or whinging, not lashing out at people who love us, not leaving churches to try and find a better one. They chose to stand firm where God had placed them, and Jesus commended them!

 

How can you face such persecution and poverty and keep a right attitude. The secret lies in

 

Revelation 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)

 

That’s the secret… they might look poor, but they knew they were truly rich. And so are you!

 

DECEPTION OF WEALTH… JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE

 

Our society is built around the drive to get wealth, isn’t it? Wealthy people are considered blessed, poor people are considered cursed. Our world is about keeping up with the Jones, or the Kardashians.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about wealth, and not much of it is good. The rich young ruler, for example, walked away from Jesus not because he had wealth but because wealth had him!  So lets get this straight…  it is not wrong to have money, but a Jesus said,

 

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 you can have money, have lots of it if you wish, but don’t serve it. Most wealthy people become obsessed with money, and want more and more. Oil tycoon and richest man in the world at the time, John D Rockefeller was once asked, “How much money is enough money?” He famously replied, “Just a little bit more.”

 

But this church at Smyrna was far from wealthy in financial terms, just like you and I.

 

Revelation 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)… What does Jesus mean?

 

TRUE WEALTH

 

So they had no money, but they had something that was priceless, riches beyond measure. What did they have? Their relationship with Christ, that’s what. And this relationship gave rise to a wealth of wisdom and understanding that far outweighs and eclipses money, houses, cars and thick wallets.

 

Colossians 2:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

 

Godly wisdom, righteous maturity, the love of your family, eternal life… these cannot be bought and their worth cannot be measured.

 

I’ve known many people, some of who, are in his room, who have little money, are on pensions and have few assets, but they have a godly wisdom I respect and crave, a deep love of God, a level of faith and contentment you simply cannot buy. This is what the church at Smyrna had… this is true wealth!

 

Romans 11:33 (ESV Strong's)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

 

If you face persecution today, if you face poverty, if you face sickness, fear, anxiety, lack, it’s time to take your eyes off the situation, take your eyes off the circumstance and recognise the wealth you possess, what many people overlook, but which is right in your hands…

 

 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV Strong's)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

 

People with money often become obsessed with money, getting more of it, the things it can buy, the power it can wield. Most I know are never content… never!

 

Money is not evil, the love of money is the root of all evil. People are basically greedy, but the Church at Smyrna inspires us to be so much more. To take our eyes off the money, and recognise how blessed we really are. We’re wealthy folks, whether the world can see it or not. You might not have much right no, but you’re still in the top 5% of the world for standard of living.

 

Serve God, or serve money? People who choose money are, in my experience, far from fulfilled. They crave something more, they crave wisdom, crave knowledge, crave families that love them, faithful partners, contentment, fulfilled lives. Yet they try and meet these cravings with money, and it doesn’t work. You can’t buy happiness, you can just be miserable in comfort. But I’d rather be genuinely happy!

 

HOW WEALTHY ARE YOU?

 

Look at your life. Go on, take a good long look. You may not have a lot of money, but look at the true wealth you have. Have you got the Word of God? This is gold, this is precious stones. Reading this every day, you open the door to wisdom

 

James 3:17 (ESV Strong's)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

 

You have salvation. You have the opportunity to gain a godly wisdom from above, to have an amazing understanding beyond human contemplation.

 

You have a church like this, full of people who love you, who want to get to know you, support you, care for you, inspire you. You have people around you who love you, friends, spouses, kids. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you have wealth that lasts for eternity.  It’s not pie in the sky when you die by and by, it’s really power for living, starting right here, right now by the Holy Spirit.

 

So today, some of you here are battered and bruised. Persecuted, mistreated, hurt by others. Some of you struggle with poverty, with lack… no job, little money, much depression. You cannot buy the things you want, for yourself or those you love. But listen to what Jesus said..

 

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.

 

Today I challenge you… what are you treasuring right now? Where is your treasure, and where is your heart.

 

Stand if you are facing financial hardship. Today I want challenge those who are desperate enough to pursue God first, not wealth. To pursue the divine, not the dollar.

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV-WS)

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights.

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The Truth about Fasting- Lynn Preece

October 24, 2017

Learn the truth about Biblical fasting, and the incredible health benefits of fasting.  In this amazing message, Nutritional Therapist Lynn Preece explores the basis for fasting, the benefits of fasting and the way every one of us can begin to make fasting a part of your lives.  There are spiritual and health benefits, and you can learn all about them in this wonderful session.

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Ignite Christian Church… New Name, New Vision

October 24, 2017

Today is a major day in the history of this church. It is a day of fresh beginnings, it is a day of fresh vision. As you can see, the stage is different, no longer black and dull because we have added a little colour. It is also the day when we launch our new name. 

 

WHY CHANGE YOUR NAME?

 

Now some people think this is a great idea, while others are not so sure. This is not about whether it is your preference or not, I have sensed for 2 years and had it confirmed in dozens of ways that we need to change our name. Why change your name?

 

If you look throughout the Bible you will see that many times names were changed at significant points in people’s lives especially after encounters with God. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, Judas became Mud! Encounters with the Lord caused new direction in the lives of these men, and sometimes, but not always, it was accompanied by a change of name.

 

In Bible times a name should tell you something about a person, and so it is with us.

 

The name Coast Church has been around for several years, and is quite a strange one. We are nowhere near the coast, we get mixed up all the time with Suncoast Church, and we have significant history both good and bad, some of which is great and some of which we need to distance ourselves from.

 

The other week at our national conference I believe the Lord spoke clearly to me confirming once again the name change, and He used the phrase “draw a line under the past.” So today, we draw a line under the past, take our eyes from the past and look to the future!

 

And also this very week in my quiet times came a verse which I believe some of us need to hear…

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

 

Today God is doing a new thing among us, and I believe this change of name is a new thing that will yield fruit long into the future. The leadership have been seeking the Lord for many months regarding His choice of name, and we wanted one that spoke prophetically into the future the Lord has for us.  So without any further ado, here is our new name...

 

IGNITE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

 

Went camping a few weeks ago, and lit a small fire. Just after I lit the fire, a massive storm blew up, and I watched the tiny flame whip up into something extraordinary. As the wind rushed across the little fire, the embers glowed, the flames grew and the sparks began to fly far away. At this point God spoke into my heart and said, “This is what I have destined for you!”

 

I shared this with a few pastors in oversight last week, and they loved it. They believed that Ignite speaks prophetically into our church about the task ahead, to ignite fires of the Holy. Spirit right across this great land. And, after input from many including our prayer folk, it was decided to call it a Christian Church, because of the evil times in which we live. We will proudly profess to be Christians, no matter the consequences in these troubled days!

 

Now you might be thinking that calling yourself ignite is a brave move for a group of people who live in a 100 year old wooden building, but I want to share my vision of how Ignite Christian Church can set your life ablaze with the power of God.

 

FIRE AS A SYMBOL

 

Fire is a frequently used symbol in the Bible. It is a symbol of judgement at Sodom and Gomorrah, it’s a symbol of sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac. In the temple, fire denoted sacrifice too, and Paul continues this image when he talks of us being a living sacrifice in Roman 12:1.  Fire was a key image of God’s guidance right through the Exodus, leading, guiding and protecting God’s people

 

Exodus 13:21 (ESV Strong's)

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

 

And of course when the Holy Spirit was poured out…

 

Acts 2:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 

Fire is a powerful and arresting manifestation of the presence of God, and that’s why we are seeking the Lord as a Church and asking Him to ignite and fan into flame His presence among us.

 

Hebrews 12:29 (ESV Strong's)

for our God is a consuming fire.

 

But enough of the theology, what do we hope this new name does for you as our church family? Let me share one fiery encounter…

 

Exodus 3:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

 

The Hebrew for burning means fire, kindling, it also means it was ignited. So our prayer is that Ignite Christian Church ignites something special within you today! It was a bush on fire that turned Moses aside, and it will be a Church on fire, believers on fire that will turn a world aside that is heading to hell fire!

 

And I for one want to be on fire for Christ! If I am on fire, if the leaders are on fire, if the church is on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit, then chances are you will be ignited too! John Wesley was once asked why he attracted such crowds to his preaching, and he replied, “I set myself on fire in the pulpit, and people came to watch me burn.”

 

So this is what we want to ignite in you…

 

1.      IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR CHRIST

 

Last week we talked about first love, and first love must involve passion. Now passion can be a good or a bad thing. I’m passionate about many things, but I’m especially passionate about the Lord Jesus. Passion is often described in terms of a burning within, so in a sense we want to ignite the right kind of fire as passion in your life.

 

In Romans 1:27 we see the bad side of passion,

 

Romans 1:27 (ESV Strong's)

the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another,

 

That’s not the passion we want to stir up, but rather passion for the One who saved your souls…

 

Romans 12:10-11 (ESV Strong's)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

 

The phrase fervent in spirit is often translated “Keep the fire of devotion burning strong.”

 

In this church, we want to ignite a passion within you for Jesus Christ, and we want to stoke that fire until it is white hot, until it is all consuming. I’m asking the Lord for a church of on fire believers, so my prayer is that He ignites a fire of the Holy Spirit within all of us!

 

 

2.      IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR THE LOST

 

Jeremiah proclaimed the word of the Lord to a generation that treated him with scorn and derision.  Frankly, he got tired of the attacks, and tried to keep his mouth shut and just let them go to hell… literally. But then he writes this…

 

Jeremiah 20:9 (ESV Strong's)

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,”

there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones,

and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

 

The fire for evangelism kindled up or ignited and burned so deep within him that he could not stay quiet. And that is my prayer for all of us. That we ignite the fires of Evangelism so that we share our faith and see people coming to Christ on a scale we have never even dreamed of! Now I believe that we face persecution as Christians in this next season, but oh Lord, ignite a fire and a passion within us to share our faith and win this area to Christ!

 

 

3.      IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR THE TRUTH

 

Truth is a dubious commodity these days, and even in the church we have well meaning but deluded people watering down God’s clear commands and truths. But when you ignite the truth it has a way of exploding in fire, searing consciences and burning the fakeness and self centred theories off like dross. Have you ever wondered why, on the road to Emmeus, the disciples said this…

 

Luke 24:32 (ESV Strong's)

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

 

Their hearts were ignited because Jesus expounded truth to them, and when Jesus ignited the fire it was as if their hearts burned within them. And that’s our agenda here, we want to ignite a passion for the truth, and we want truth to be preached and taught and spoken about over coffee, and we want the truth of God’s Word burning within us, because the truth is what will set you free!

 

So we will continue to preach and teach the Word of God…

 

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

 

 

4.      IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR WORSHIP

 

Worshipping the Lord is a part of our Christian life, and we want to ignite a real passion within all of us to worship the King of Kings

 

Psalms 39:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned;

then I spoke with my tongue: “O Lord, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!

 

The Psalmist had ignited within Him a heat or a passion for worship, such that he could not but speak out the praises of the Lord! How small we are, how awesome God is, we want Church to ignite a passion for praise and worship that consumes us!

 

We are starting special meetings that will be just praise and worship, prophecy and prayers. I believe that these services will ignite a passion within us that will empower us to reach our community for Christ!

 

5.      IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR YOU OWN MINISTRY

 

One of the central desires I have had as your pastor is to stir up the gifts that you have. This is why we do 101 and 201, and if you have a desire for ministry in your heart, this is the place for you. My calling, my passion is to release people into ministry. If you want to minister and make a difference in the lives of others, we have teams here that can help you, train you and give you opportunities that simply do not exist elsewhere.

 

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

The Greek word for “fan into flame” is a compound word anazo-pyro, where anazo means make alive and pyro means fire. So this word translates as to inflame, to kindle up or to ignite a fire.

 

If you long to be involved in ministry, this church can and will ignite the ministry flames in your heart!

 

 

6.      IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR THE CHURCH

 

Ephesians 5:25 (ESV Strong's)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

 

Jesus loves the church… many modern Christians don’t, many profess to love the Lord but hate Church, but Christ loves the church. We are still His plan for a fallen world.

 

I believe that on our coast, for every believer in church there is a believer dislocated from Church. Dislocated means not connected in. I have many times dislocated my shoulder, and I can tell you the experience is painful, sickening and when I do it, my arm is not functioning properly. So too, believers not connected to church are usually in pain, feeling separated and not functioning the way God wants them to.

 

And they’re mostly like this because someone in Church, usually the pastor, has offended them, or upset them, or bored them to tears.

 

Our prayer is that this church ignites a fresh a passion for the church, and for bringing others into the Church. A church that is a home, a place of peace and excitement, a place of love and support.  Are we perfect? No, of course not. But are we still God’s answer or a hurting world? Absolutely!

 

 

 

7.      IGNITE OUR NATION

 

Jesus said,

Luke 12:49 (ESV Strong's)

 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

 

Already kindled? Already ignited? We face one of the bleakest times for Christianity in this nation, but if we ignite a fire together, then when it’s darkest we can shine more brightly than ever before!

 

Zechariah 13:9 (ESV Strong's)

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver,

and test them as gold is tested.

They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

 

We are going to be tested, but by God’s grace, the truth of the Word of God and by the power of His Spirit, we will stand firm, and we will be refined by fire, ignited and consumed for our Jesus!

 

The vision for moving ahead in Ignite Christian Church is not to just build a big church. How do you start a bushfire? Not by building a big bonfire and toasting marshmallows, but by igniting a string of fires that spread and build momentum.

 

I believe we are called to ignite fires right across this area, and even beyond, and start a series of fires that will transform a nation! My vision is to plant new churches out of this one. And to build up those churches who are struggling. Let’s kindle the fire, let’s ignite a fire together and see revival fires sweep across our nation!

 

STAND WITH US

 

Ignite Christian Church is a new start, a fresh vision, but also I believe a God given prophetic word to our people. It’s time to unite and ignite, its time to not look back but to unite as one as we look to the future. It’s time to light a fire against which the gates of hell shall not prevail!

 

So what I’m asking of you this morning is how about it? Will you join us? You have the opportunity to stand with us and ignite these passions in your own life. I’m asking you to join with us to ignite the fire of God in our nation and believe God for revival in the great Southland of the Holy Spirit!

 

And what will this take? We need to discover the greatest strength we have as believers… unity!

 

Psalm133 shows us that when we have unity, we will see the Lord bestow His blessing, even life forevermore. Last week we attended our state conference, and they spoke on unity. It was said that when we unite around a God given vision for the Church, God can do wonders. Unity is not about just getting along, it’s not about us enjoying unity and peace. No, it’s far more than that.

 

That Psalm talk about unity seeing a flow of anointing oil, overflowing the face and beard of Aaron

 

Psalms 133:2 (ESV Strong's)

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,

on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!

 

What it is talking about is the flow of the Holy Spirit. Disunity blocks the flow, but if we stand together, united and ignited in unity, we will see a flow of the Holy Spirit such as we have never seen before!

 

So that is the challenge… We may not see eye to eye on everything, but if we are mature enough, we can walk hand in hand and arm in arm. So will you join us and ignite the fires of revival, in your own heart, in our church and across our nation?

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Lessons from the Lamps- First Love

October 16, 2017

Today I want to start a series looking at the first few chapters of one of the most controversial and misunderstood books of the BibLe… the book of Revelation.

 

No some of you may have already switched off, thinking I’m going to be predicting the end of the world for next week, but I believe that we have much to learn from this book. That being said, I am only going to concentrate on a few chapters, specifically what Jesus said to seven churches, because I think He is saying much the same to the modern church today.

 

DO YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED?

 

A bit of background is needed to understand what is going on. The apostle John is writing this book, and at the time he has been banished and imprisoned on a rocky, desolate little island called Patmos, in the Mediterranean off the coast of modern day Turkey. He is in a miserable situation, persecuted for his faith, and in the middle of this dark, hopeless situation God gives him the most amazing visions.

 

Revelation 1:3 (ESV Strong's)

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

 

So even though his situation is miserable and hopeless, he tells us that ending this book will bring us blessing. I’m up for that! Are you?

 

TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

 

The very first thing he sees in this vision is Jesus. Now John knew Jesus personally when He was on earth. He’d seen Him crucified, He seen the resurrected Christ, but this vision is different. What He sees is the triumphant Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the ruler over all creation, the One soon to return to earth.

 

Revelation 1:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

 

So this is not some vague, thus sayeth the Lord kind of vision, it’s the real deal, with Jesus at the centre. His hair is white like snow, his eyes are like fire, his mouth is like a sword, and this Jesus has a message for 7 churches in Asia Minor, or modern day Turkey.

 

In the vision Jesus has 7 stars in His right hand, and walks among 7 lamp stands, and just so you don’t get this wrong, John tells you what this is about…

 

Revelation 1:20 (ESV Strong's)

As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

 

So with this sort of vision, Jesus must have something pretty important to say. Though these seven letters were for specific churches at specific times, they also provide valuable advice and insight for churches today. Today we still face the temptation to lethargy, immorality, and false teaching—and we are still called to continued faithfulness. By identifying the temptations, failures, and faith of those first-century churches, John provides a map for modern-day churches that reveals where the spiritual dangers lie and how to avoid them.

 

 

EPHESUS- I’M NOT FEELING THE LOVE!

 

 

Revelation 2:1-7 (ESV Strong's)

 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 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. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

 

Jesus addresses this church at Ephesus, and He has many great things to say about them, commending them for their perseverance and beliefs. In fact, Jesus states 9 positives about them, because He sees them and knows them.

 

NOTHING IS HIDDEN

 

Luke 12:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

 

Jesus sees it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. And He examined these people, and found much to commend about them. I bet, if He wrote us this letter today, He’d probably say the same about our church, and about us as individuals. To summarise, Jesus bigs them up because they are…

 

1.     A SERVING CHURCH

 

This was a busy church, serving the Lord in many areas. I bet their calendar was just packed with events, filled with great activities like rock n roll nights, dig in and Church camps. They had great morning teas, men’s and ladies meetings and a ton of interesting Connect groups.

 

2.     A SACRIFICING CHURCH

 

The Greek word translated as labour or toil in verse 2 literally means “toil to the point of exhaustion.” These believers not only worked hard and served with all their hearts, but they had paid a price to do so.

 

They keep going even when things got tough, and they have and gave until I hurt. Fully committed, they turned up and served faithfully, just as many of you do here.

 

3.     A SEPARATED CHURCH

 

The Ephesians Church was a separated church, and they carefully examined visiting ministry to make sure they were teaching truth, not error.

 

2 John 1:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. They did not just swallow what any old preacher said, but carefully examined it… They tested the spirits…

 

1 John 4:1 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 

These people were no voters in the plebiscite, and they stood for what was right and true, not flying off into error and excess.

 

4.     A SUFFERING CHURCH

 

In verse 3 Jesus describes them as

Revelation 2:3

enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and this in the Greek means enduring under trial. And you have not grown weary.

 

Under attack they persevered and did not lose heart. They suffered, but kept going standing for the truth.

 

Now I reckon Jesus could probably say exactly the same thing about this Church, and us as believers, don’t you? Many of you here serve faithfully, test what myself and others say for error , stand for what is right and persevere even under suffering. This church looks like our church today. But while Jesus found so much to commend about them, He found one telling factor which was so severe, so important that if they failed to address it the penalty was going to be severe.

 

They had lost they first love.  Church, with all the great things going on here, and with all the wonderful things you do and the way you serve, the question is this…

 

HAVE YOU LOST 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. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

 

This busy, serving, separated, sacrificing church really suffered from “heart trouble”–they had abandoned their first love! They displayed “works … labor … and patience” (Rev. 2:2), but these qualities were not motivated by a love for Christ. Jesus’ words here are not about what they are doing, or that they should do more, they are about the motivation behind the acts… love! Somewhere, somehow along the way they had morphed from human beings to human doings!

 

Paul wrote to another church at Thessalonica

 

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (ESV Strong's)

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

What you do for Jesus is important, but why do do it it even more important.

 

A HONEYMOON TO REMEMBER

 

What is “first love”? It is the devotion to Christ that so often characterises the new believer: fervent, personal, uninhibited, excited, and openly displayed.

 

Do you remember when you first became a Christian? It’s different for everyone, but I know for me, I reached a point where I just wanted to lay it all down for Jesus.  I pledged to give myself totally to the Lord and serve him forever! I recognise that love is not just a feeling, it’s an act of the will.

 

It is the “honeymoon love” of the husband and wife. And God feels the same love too…

 

Jeremiah 2:2 (ESV Strong's)

“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

 

When I first met Fiona, she came to my youth group. I was playing guitar, and she was looking cute. I rolled my eyes at her, and she rolled them back, and there was that electric spark. Not long after we started dating, then got engaged, then got married. And there was real excitement, at least in my life.

 

While it is true that mature married love deepens and grows richer over time, it is also true that the love husbands and wives feel for each other can easily wane. We should never lose the excitement and wonder of those “honeymoon days.” When a husband and wife begin to take each other for granted, and life becomes routine, then the marriage is in danger.

 

And so it is with this church… and maybe with us!

 

SAME OLD SAME OLD

 

How many of us love the Lord? How many of us long to serve Him? Can I ask you honestly… do you have the same spark, the same level of love for the Lord today as you once had? Are you in love with Him in the same way?

 

He is our bridegroom, and we are his bride. He is unabashedly passionate about us. He’s captivated with us. He thinks we’re beautiful. He yearns for us to love him as passionately as he loves us. Do you respond with the same love, or has it grown cold?

 

When you are dating, you’d crawl over cut glass to be with your beloved. But now it’s, “So what have you cooked for dinner, before I head out for the Church meeting.” Many marriages get into a rut, but a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out… it’s not a place you want to be, right?

 

I heard about an older couple in marriage counselling. The woman complained, “He never tells me he loves me!”  The man replied, “I told you I loved you when we were married, and if I ever change my mind you’ll be the first to know!”

 

Just think about it: It is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “for the sake of the Lord” and yet not really love Jesus Christ! The Ephesian believers were so busy maintaining their separation that they were neglecting adoration. They were substituting labour for love; purity for passion. But these sacrifices did not impress Jesus. The church must have both if it is to please Him.

 

Listen, this is a great Church. There’s a buzz in the room every Sunday, and people are busy, serving one another, and serving the Lord. Busy, productive, happy… yet Jesus says, I hold one thing against you… you’re too busy serving the King to have time to just love the King!

 

If you’ve been a Christian for years, you are prone to this sin.

 

Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV Strong's)

In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.

 

In the midst of the years, many of us need reviving. We need reminding of God’s Goodness to us through the years, and we need the spark of that first love! However long you’ve been a Christian, today is a great day o fall in love again!

 

BACKSLIDING IN THE CHURCH?

 

We often think of backsliding as people who drop out of Church, but I challenge you with this… there are often many backsliders still in the church. Turning up regularly or semi regularly for Church, going to events, maybe even serving in some way.

 

Like that great Church at Ephesus… Full of labor, opposed to wicked men and false teachers, persistently orthodox, not fainting in the day of trial; and yet, lacking in love to the point where Jesus is ready to reject them!  Is the complaint true of us here in this church?

 

People may not see you as a backslider, but you know your own heart. And love develops over time.  The exuberance of its emotion may have passed with the years, but has it been replaced by a deep, all-constraining, and complete devotion to our Lord?

 

HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY MEASURE YOUR LOVE?

 

So what is the measure of whether we have lost our first love? Is it a feeling, or can we measure it in a more tangible way?

 

 Was once speaking to a friend who told me, “I love my wife and kids, but I just can’t stop having affairs and sleeping around.” I said to him, “OK, bro, but let’s be honest… you actually don’t love your wife and kids.” Love is not a feeling, it is action, it is obedience, it is faithfulness.

 

1 John 3:18 (ESV Strong's)

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

 

True love is demonstrated, not just felt or spoken of. It’s easy to say I love my wife, but it’s much harder to demonstrate that every day, devotion time to her, listening to her, caring for her, providing for her, remaining faithful to her.

 

The true measure of love for Christ is not a feeling, it is obedience…

 

1 John 5:3 (ESV Strong's)

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

 

Are you reading His Word daily as He commands, are you keeping yourself pure. Are you praying constantly, are you repenting of sin in your life? Are attending church, are you serving in a ministry with gladness and Joy?

 

If you are doing lots of things for the Lord, but without a joyful, devoted, serving heart, without spending time everyday with Him, then perhaps you’ve lost your first love. I preach to myself as much as anyone, in fact, even more. I’m a busy guy as you know, too busy, getting too tired, slowly running down. I need to jealously guard my time with the Lord, keep pure and stay devoted!

 

REDISCOVERING YOUR FIRST LOVE

 

John the apostle reveals a simple, 3 step plan for rediscovering your first love…

 

Revelation 2:5 (ESV Strong's)

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

 

1.     REMEMBER

 

First, we must remember (in Greek it literally means “keep on remembering”). Jesus calls us to remember the height from which we have fallen, the pinnacle of our relationship with Him. He wants us to remember what we have lost and cultivate a desire to regain that close communion once again. And it’s not a once off, we need to keep on remembering, lest our love grow old and stale!

 

Acknowledge the problem and determine “how far you have fallen.” Losing your first love is accompanied by a lack of communion with God and fellowship with other believers, so you can likely determine when the problem started by identifying when you last engaged in spiritual acts of devotion. Make a list that includes the last time you prayed regularly, read the Bible and attended church. Next, examine the list and consider how you’ve changed, both externally and in your heart, since you began neglecting or stopped engaging in those spiritual disciplines.

 

Psalms 106:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.

But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.

 

Forgetfulness is a chronic human problem, and that’s why Jesus says, keep on remembering.

 

No one sets out to see their marriage grow cold. No true believer ever plans to backslide. It happens gradually, like a man who has one last surviving hair that he took care of, until one day he woke up and there was the hair on his pillow. So he exclaimed, “oh no, I’ve gone bald!”

 

People sometimes describe their first love for Jesus as a mountaintop experience. Jesus tells us here to look back up the mountain.

 

2.     REPENT

 

The next step is that we must repent. Repentance means to change our minds, literally to turn away from sin–and we need to confess our sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9).

 

That means we must not only confess our dulled love but also put our hearts back on the trail up the mountain, where we once loved Jesus passionately.

 

Repentance literally means a “change of mind.” It’s not about changing our intentions or beliefs, and it’s not about feeling sorry that we’ve been caught, but rather it’s about turning 180 degrees from sin to obedience.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

 

To rediscover your first love, you need to take steps not only to stop your fall but also to get back on the right path of obedience to God. You must love Him enough to let His Spirit change you.

 

 

3.     REDO

 

We may be doing love-chilling things and failing to do love-warming things. To rekindle that first love, we should purposefully do the things we once did. When we do them, we will fall in love with Jesus again.

 

 “Do the things you did at first”, Jesus commands. (Revelation 2:5)

 

What actions did you take when you were being faithful to God, when you were full on loving and serving Him? What activities were you engaged in when you were leaning on the strength of God rather than on your own strength? Remembering what you did before can help you see what you must start doing once again.

 

The third step is very practical… we must repeat the first works, we must get back to what we use to do and love in our relationship with Christ. This suggests a restoration of the original fellowship that was broken by our sin and neglect. For the believer, in practical terms, this means prayer, Bible reading and meditation, obedient service, and worship.

 

And if you were not doing them at first, start afresh today.  We have our Bible reading plan, and we recommend doing 201 today. Get excited, fall in love again and rediscover your first love!

 

WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING?

 

So there it is… remember, repent and redo what you first did. For the church at Ephesus, with all their good works, all their service, all their suffering, all their piety, today no church exists in the city. Their lamp stand has been removed, just as Jesus promised.

 

And here today, let me ask you… what are you building? All of your good works, all of your good intentions, all the things you do might look very impressive, but let me finish with this image…

 

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (ESV Strong's)

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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.

 

All the great things we do for Jesus ultimately are worth nothing if we don’t have that first love.

 

We judge our lives based on results. Look at my family, look at my church, look at my life. See how God is blessing us, blessing our church, blessing our ministries. But if the church is half the size, if you are broke, if your family is split, can you still love God? I mean really love and trust Him?

 

Philippians 3:14 (ESV Strong's)

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

The goal is knowing God. The prizes are many, and the come along the way, but let us never focus on the peripheral results of the one great aim we must all have… knowing God! The church at Ephesus had it all, achieved it all, worked hard and served hard, but lost the most important thing of all!

 

God doesn’t want to be used, He wants to be loved. Life is not about what we achieve, it’s about who we follow. But today, in this church, don’t be deceived by the phrase “first love”. First love might be the starting point of your life with Christ, but it’s got to be the high point! It’s not a way to get what you want or to achieve more for the Kingdom, it is the Kingdom!

 

Rekindling that love that once so powerfully attracted us to each other in marriage and also in our relationship with the Lord  is worth all the effort we put into it—and more. It’s priceless!

 

So what are you building in your life, in your ministry in your Christian Life? Is it gold, silver, costly stones, is it something that delights your Heavenly Father, that brings Him joy because it is done with that love, that devotion, that total commitment? Or are you doing all the right things without the right attitude. Whatever you do, without your first love, are you investing into wood, hay and straw. Looks good now, when God ignites it, will it pass the test or will it amount to nothing of value.

 

Today many of us, myself included, need to fall in love with Jesus once again. I do this often with my wife, take her on dates all the time, but I need to do it more. And I need to do it more with my Lord.

 

IT’S TIME TO FALL IN LOVE AGAIN!

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