Mind Viruses 3- Loneliness Virus

July 24, 2017

In this series we’ve seen how viruses affect and infect your subconscious mind. We’ve seen how learning involves us accessing He subconscious through our conscious mind, and we found that when you consciously do an action over and over and thereby commit it to your subconscious mind, it is powerful training indeed.

 

But on the flip side, addictions are when the subconscious dictates to the conscious how to act. We call it a compulsion. But mind viruses are different… they access our subconscious mind in the most subtle of ways. Yes through our conscious mind, but in a way we would never suspect.

 

And then they can influence every part of our existence, and start influencing how we feel, react and behave, or misbehave as the case might be.

 

As a follow up to what Melva shared last week, this week I want to have a look at a virus that is increasing in frequency and affecting many of us so subtly we don’t even realise…

 

THE LONELINESS VIRUS

 

We are social creatures… always have been, always will be.

 

So here’s the irony… we live in the most connected generation in history, yet we are lonelier and more depressed than ever before! Why? Because the enemy has created a virus that infects so many of us, and society subtly infects us with this virus… the loneliness virus.

 

I met a 40 year old lady this week who told me that, after her 10 year and 2 child de facto relationship had collapsed, she is alone and miserable, so she is putting herself out there on dating websites and fighting off sleazy guys who only want sexual relations not an actual relationship. She is lonely, and she is one of millions infected by the loneliness virus.

 

Look at our Songs, movies, TV shows, books… life imitates art in that loneliness is all around.

 

WELCOME TO HEARTBREAK HOTEL

 

Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell

It’s down at the end of lonely street, called Heartbreak Hotel

You’ll be so lonely you could die.

 

Loneliness is a virus that has always been there. You hold in your hand a universal communication device. You can talk to or write texts to anybody, anywhere, any time. So clearly loneliness is not simply a function of not having the ability to communicate.

 

I mean, we have email taking seconds instead of snail mail taking weeks or months. We have cellphones to call each other, instead of trying to find a phone booth like Superman. You can have 600 Facebook friends, and be the loneliest person in the world. All this technology, all this communication and still we struggle with a feeling of being separate.

 

In fact, from birth we as human beings crave attachment and connection.  Without attachment or relationship, infants will fail to thrive. Without a feeling of connectedness, adults may yield to depression. Because God created people in His image, He made them relational.

 

Right back at creation God said,

Genesis 2:18

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

When God saw Adam alone in the Garden of Eden, He described it is “not good” (Gen. 2:18). Despite God’s own presence and relationship with Adam, God knew people also need human relationships. And nothing has changed, we still need both.

 

Human beings like you and I need both vertical intimacy (with God) and horizontal intimacy (with people) in order to feel fulfilled. Without these relationships, we are vulnerable to the complex set of emotions described as “loneliness.”

 

So, loneliness is not just being alone. I like being alone, as do many of you, some more than others. In fact, there is much to be said for being alone, to spend time with God, to ponder the meanings of life, to relax and chill, sleep, maybe think a bit, maybe cry a little.

 

Being alone on your terms, by your choice is not loneliness. That’s solitude, and I like it, even crave it at times. Loneliness is when being alone is forced upon you, and it quickly leads to depression and its associated problems. So where did this come from?

 

When sin entered the Garden, genuine intimacy disappeared. Adam and Eve blamed each other, lied, blamed God and excused themselves. From that moment, genuine intimacy with God and even with other human beings was lost. Loneliness in people has its beginnings in sin, like all other evils we see in the world.

 

WHY IS THERE AN EPIDEMIC? OR IS IT A TECHIDEMIC?

 

Any casual observer would agree that today, more than ever, the loneliness virus is rampant. Why is that, especially given we are technologically more connected than ever?

 

I think that’s it… technology and lifestyle. While the technology connects us to people on the other side of the world we don’t know and will never meet, we fail to connect socially with people right next to us in a coffee shop!

 

Truth is, more than ever before, we hide behind technology and the anonymity it offers. Couple this with a modern lifestyle that has cut the heart out of families, marriage and relationships, and you have a recipe for loneliness. Our society cannot even define who a person is and what a marriage is, so this further destabilises people’s live.

 

We are even told by society today that love and acceptance equally agreement. If we disagree with someone’s opinion apparently now we cannot love or accept them, further isolating them! One young lady I know told me she is turning into a boy, and that if I love her I would agree with her decision. I said I Di not agree with her, but nothing will stop my live for her, and she was confused.

 

 

No wonder the modern world is so miserable… we’ve put a modern twist on an age old problem!

 

In Christ, people can rediscover the pathway to genuine intimate connection, and they can catch glimpses of true and restored relationship with God and other Christians. Yet even us Christians are not yet able to fully appreciate the spiritual connection this side of heaven. Therefore, loneliness continues to be the constant companion of the human race, regardless of technology, regardless of how rich, powerful or successful you are.

 

So everyone from Napoleon to Elvis, from Marilyn Monroe to Janice Joplin, all publicly have declared struggles with loneliness. The wealthy, the powerful, the popular so often are lonely because with all the trappings, they are infected with the same mind virus.

 

And remember, a virus gets into your body and uses your own cell’s DNA against you. In the same way, this virus gets into your subconscious and uses your own thoughts, your own fears, your own sense of rejection, against you!

 

SYMPTOMS OF THE LONELINESS VIRUS

 

 

Psalm 142:1-7

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!

In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;

no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

 

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!

Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

 

The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

 

This Psalm is a beautiful illustration of the cycle of sadness, loneliness and discouragement we all face at some time, or if you’re like me, you face pretty regularly.

 

David wrote this Psalm when we was on the run from King Saul, in the cave of Adullam…

 

1 Samuel 22:2

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

 

Birds of a feather, right? He wrote these words because he was surrounded by 400 people of like mind, oppressed, depressed, distressed and miserable. Even in that crowd, he was alone. 

 

He was the leader, he was the one they looked to, so he couldn’t let them see how he actually felt inside. Like many of you, he painted on a happy face and came to church. He smiled and said, “She’ll be right mate,” but inside he was desperately lonely.  You can put flowers on a grave to make it look nice, but inside there’s still death and destruction.

 

So let’s look at the symptoms of the virus that David expresses in this Psalm…

 

 

1.     FEELING OVERWHELMED

 

Verse 3, my spirit faints within me. The Hebrew for this word faints means overwhelmed, swooning, made feeble, fainting or muffled. Circumstances are such that they overwhelm him and actually muffle his spirit. I experience this often, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed to the point of numbness.

 

Some of you here will feel like that right now. Whatever is troubling you, whatever you struggle with within, you reach the point of overwhelm, like you’re about to faint, and the joy of the Lord is not your strength, it’s a distant memory, muffled and suppressed.

 

 

2.     FEELING DESERTED

 

Psalms 142:4

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;

no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

 

Notice the lonely words David uses… total rejection, abandonment, isolation. No one cares he laments, because he’s hunted by Saul, abandoned by friends, surrounded by the world.

 

I bet many here feel like that. You ask, does anyone even notice me? Does anyone care? Does anyone even notice how I feel? I’m so alone

 

 

3.     FEELING DEPRESSED

 

Psalms 142:6

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!

 

That phrase in Hebrews literally means to be in a valley experience, emotionally so low, a walking through the valley of the shadow of death experience. That’s the lowest ebb of human existence, the bottom of the pit, where all hope is gone. To put it in 21st century speak, he is depressed, zo low he needs Zo-loft! We would rather medicate than meditate on God’s Word and promises!

 

 

 

4.     FEELING HOPELESS

 

Verse 6 continues... Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

 

At this point he is feels so alone that he is without hope.  Those against him are too strong, those with him too down, he feels lonely, depresses and at his lowest point. The walls are closing in, and in the next verse he cries,

 

Psalms 142:7

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

 

Some of you here feel like you are in prison. You try and cheer up. You dress the prison up with nice curtains and furniture, but it is still a prison.

 

Today is the day you begin to dismantle your prison, because today Jesus says…

 

Luke 4:18

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

 

Is the loneliness virus oppressing you today?

 

WHAT IS THE CURE FOR THE COMMON LONELINESS VIRUS?

 

The cure for this potentially devastating and debilitating virus is multi step, but you can and will overcome the virus of loneliness in your life. The answer is not to join a social network, or dating site, because with all the tech, we still need real people and real relationships, right here where we stand, right now! Let’s get back to that Psalm…

 

1.     RECOGNISE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

Psalms 142:3

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!

In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

 

David recognises and even visualises the rough, difficult, dark path, the valley of the shadow of death. Later he visualises a prison, and what he is doing here is recognising his emotions. When you visualise, it bypasses the intellect and goes to the heart. That’s why songs and movies are so powerful and tug at your emotions.

 

So if you feel lonely and broken-hearted, don’t suppress it, recognise it as a valid and very real emotion.  

 

We often fake it, don’t we? We come to God with pious platitudes not honest openness. Listen, God is not interested in religious prayers, He responds to open and contrite hearts. We have the greatest friend, the One who created and redeemed us, who longs to meet our every need, spiritual, emotional and physical, and we can’t even open up and be honest with Him. We cannot fool Him you know!

 

Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

Step 1 is recognising your emotions and how you feel and this must lead to step 2, being honest and telling God how you actually feel, even if it’s ugly. He’s big, He can take it!

 

 

2.     VERBALISE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

Psalms 142:1-2

Psalm 142

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

 

He does the same in verse 5, and 7. David verbalised how he felt, he didn’t dress it up and pretend, he didn’t toughen up soldier on, he offered cries and complaints not a stiff upper lip!

 

Habakkuk 1:2

 

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

 

Habakkuk didn’t hold back and sound all godly, he let God know how he felt. It’s ok to tell God that you are lonely, that you are down and miserable, because He can take it and He won’t take offence. But bear in mind that your anger, frustration and lashing out at God isn’t what impresses Him… your faith does!

 

 

3.     RECOGNISE HIS PRESENCE

 

Psalms 142:5

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

 

This is the turning point… the moment when, having recognised our feelings and emotions, having verbalised them, having ranted and raved and got it out of our system, we then need to take our eyes off how we feel and place them firmly on Christ, our provider and our sustainer. We need to hide in the shadow of His wings, we need to turn our eyes upon Him.

 

Psalms 34:18

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

 

When you are overwhelmed by loneliness, stop and recognise that He is with you. He cares, He loves you, He wants the best for you and He walks the road with you, as in Psalm 23.

 

I remember when my girls hit puberty. Suddenly, instead of logical processing of problems we got the waterworks. I remember as a father reaching the point where it was all too much emotion for me, so I would walk away and say, talk to your mum! But God never does that. He is always there, He is always ready to listen, to save and to care for you. He never leaves you.

 

4.     RECOGNISE HIS PAST PROVISION

 

Look back at your life. How many times has God sustained you, provided for you, blessed you?

 

Psalms 77:11-12

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

 

We don’t stop to remember how we have been blessed enough, do we? When we recognise His provision in our lives, our faith is strengthened, and we recognise that

 

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

This includes emotional needs. This includes His promises

 

5.     RECOGNISE HIS PROMISES

 

If you are lonely, God makes you a promise...

 

Psalms 68:5-6 (NIV)

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.

 

We live in a sun-scorched land, full of loneliness and pain. But God promises to set the lonely in families, and this church is a family, here for you. What we all need to do is take our eyes off our circumstances and feelings, and place them firmly on God and His promises!

 

6.     REACH OUT AND SERVE OTHERS

 

I know this might seem crazy, but when you are lonely one of the best things you can do is to serve others. Why? Because it takes your eyes off yourself as you serve others. And the church is a great place to do that.

 

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

If you’re lonely today, please don’t pull away. Let us stand with you, let us open our arms to you. So many isolate ems elves when they are feeling down, and that just drives the virus further into your subconscious. Don’t run, stay and open up to those who will love you. I know you’re fearful, but we are family, and we love you. Sure, every family has an annoying sister or a weird uncle, but as unworthy and inadequate as we are, many here want to share the journey with you. If you open up, if you have a heart to serve others, your loneliness will begin to dry up!

 

 

7.     REACH OUT TO HIM

 

But we must also recognise that no person, no pastor and no church can ever be all that we need. No person can ever fully take our loneliness, so pressuring people around us to fulfil our needs is foolishness. They cannot possibly do it.

 

Only One person can be all that you need, and only One can take away the loneliness you feel. Yes surround yourself with good people who love you, and this church needs to be part of that, but only One can fully cure the virus of loneliness …

 

James 4:7-8

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

Drawing near to God is the ultimate cure for loneliness. Can you trust Him to build the right human relationships into your life?

 

John 14:16-18

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

 

Lonely people either draw away from God or towards Him. It’s a simple choice. So what will it be today for you?

 

THE MISSING LINK

 

So what’s the missing link in the battle against loneliness? Here’s a hint… it helps you draw near to Christ.  That’s right, reading the Bible every day is the great kept to conquering loneliness.

 

So today, I want to ask you to stand.

 

Let me finish with the words of Paul. Let us take these in and believe them today, and let us live them…

 

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Interrupted by Divine Appointment- Ps Melva Kajewski

July 17, 2017

How often have you been interrupted by divine appointment?  I bet it's far more frequently than you realise, and that's where Melva's message today is so powerful.  

This dynamite message will not only encourage and bless you, but it will also make you stop and realise just how important it is to listen to the Lord every moment of every day, and act in obedience.  All around us are people in pain, people struggling to get by in life dealing with loneliness, disappointments, and fears, and we can be used by God to bless and encourage them if only we would listen and obey.

 

Thanks to Melva for this moving and powerful message...

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Mind Viruses 2- Love of the World Virus

July 10, 2017

Last week we looked at your mind as a computer, and we talked about the programs running in the background as being like your subconscious. We discovered that when your subconscious controls your conscious, it can either be good forming a good habit, or destructive causing addiction.

 

The way you overcome addictions and bad habits is by controlling your subconscious, but you cannot do that directly, you have to change it via your conscious mind. We found that addictions and bad habits can be overcome, and good habits can be formed, by the conscious choices we make. It all starts it's a decision.

 

But like many computer programs, our mind can also be affected by viruses. So what is a virus and how does it affect us.

 

VIRUSES- MEDICAL, MICROCHIP AND MIND

 

Computer viruses are named after medical viruses, and we all have experienced something of these. Viruses are not bacteria, but are far more sinister and harder to control and be healed of. So what is the difference?

 

Bacteria are living microorganisms that infect and attack your body’s cells. They reproduce themselves and either engulf other cells or poison them with a toxin.

 

Viruses on the other hand are just tiny parcels of DNA.  They inject themselves into your actual body cells, and take over the cell machinery, thereby using your own cell material to reproduce itself? It attacks you by using your own cells against you! They're often constantly changing form, and because they use your own cells against you, usually far harder to kill. They require a living host to spread, and many cannot be cured at all, such as HIV and the flu, but only the symptoms can be treated, until the bodies immune system fights them off. You become infected by somehow touching, breathing or interacting with an infected person.

 

Computer viruses are similar, often piggybacking in on emails or hidden in programs. Click on the attachment, it fires up and affects programs you are currently running. You get infected by actively interacting with an infected program.

 

Mind viruses likewise sneak into your mind, planted there by the world and/or the devil. They affect the apps you're running in your life, both conscious and subconscious, and like the medical and microchip variety, mind viruses use your own personality and subconscious mind against you. They're also ever changing and fast evolving, so we need to be alert to recognise these viruses! You become infected by interacting with and then tolerating sin in you life.

 

 

GOING VIRAL

 

So where do computer viruses come from? Well, somebody, some brilliant but twisted hacker out there designs them. They tend to have cute names like klez, Anna Kornicova or I Love You, and they can infect any computer if we don't have antivirus in place and up to date.

 

One of they latest I heard of is called WannaCry, and it is ransomware. It locks up data on your computer and only releases it when you pay of $300 US. It is actually based on a code called Eternal Blue, which was developed by the US National Security Agency or NSA.

 

And like computer viruses, mind viruses are designed by a malignant Spirit called the devil, they are downloaded through society and when fired up they control our minds and hold us to ransom! They infect our subconscious mind often without us knowing it, and make us do things we don't want to do or give in to temptations we don't want to give in to, and we don't even know about them!

 

The first family of viruses we will look at is called …

 

LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS

 

1 John 2:15-16

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.

 

Does John mean we can't feel affection towards anything in the world. I can’t love a new car or a nice home? I can't love my wife, my kids, the Broncos, or Paul McCartney? We need to understand what John is saying here, or we'd better just put on a robe and head off to a monastery!

 

In the past, this verse has been used to stop people going to the cinema, wearing shorts or wearing makeup. The last one has worked on me!

 

But to understand this virus we need to unpack 2 words… love and the world.

 

WHAT IN THE WORLD!

 

The Greek word used here is KOSMOS, which has 3 meanings in the Bible. It can refer to the earth, but that's not the meaning here.  It also can refer to the people living on said earth, but that also isn't the meaning here, such as in John 3:16, for God so loved the world. We need to love our earth, and Scripture clearly teaches us to love people, so what's the third meaning?

 

Sometimes the word “world” is used to refer to the world system, the organised, evil system with its principles and its practices, all of which are under the authority of Satan. This includes all teachings, ideas, culture, attitudes, activities, etc., that are opposed to God.

 

A fixation on the material over the spiritual, a promotion of self over others, pleasure over principle—these are just a few descriptors of the world system John is talking about. The word “world” here means everything that opposes Christ and his work on earth. Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world.”

 

John 14:30

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.

 

and Paul called him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

 

LOVE AND HATE

 

Believe it or not, love and hate often go together. On a first grade hospital excursion one child asked why everybody kept washing their hands. The nurse replied, “Because we love health and hate germs!” So what is John trying to say in this passage?

 

The Word for LOVE here is in Greek AGAPE, which refers to the highest form of love, unconditional love. So John is hitting his readers right between the eyes saying, “When you love things of the world to the point where you invest all your time, resources and thoughts into it, you're infected by the virus!”

 

John writes this because some Christians had become too cozy with the world system. They had begun to compromise with the world. They were giving too much ground to the world’s way of thinking and acting. Things in the world began to look more and more glamorous. As the hair commercial says, it doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. It's slow, subtle and like a frog in a pot of gradually boiled water, we don't recognise it soon enough!

 

So Christians had taken their eyes off the Lord, and off things eternal and all they could see is the world. That's exactly what we see today in our society, isn't it? Christians compromising, pastors preaching love without holiness and suddenly the minds of believers becomes infected with the LOVE THE WORLD virus.

 

James 4:4

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

 

If you love the world system, the money, the prestige, the success, and if you love these things of the world more than God, this virus is affecting you and according to a James, it's as if you you hate God!

 

THE ACTION OF THE LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS

 

Loving the world is the sin of allowing your appetites, ambitions, and conduct to be fashioned according to earthly values.

 

So how does this virus act, what are the symptoms of it, and are you infected? Here's 7 telltale signs that you're infected with the LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS…

 

1.     WHEN ALL THOUGHTS ARE CONSUMED BY IT

 

When the world, or any object in it, so engrosses our thoughts to such a degree that it excludes serious reflection on the things of God, we are guilty of loving the world.

 

Dr Carl Tanzler was a German doctor working in Florida, when he became obsessed with a young TB patient Ellen Hoyos, showering her with gifts and professing his love for her. She died of the disease in 1931, but he was so obsessed with her he exhumed her body, preserved it as best he could and kept her in his home with him for 7 years. That is obsession, where his love for her transcended common sense and decency!

 

You won't have done that, but I'm sure you've felt the effects of this virus at some time. We might call it obsession, or maybe stalking, but there are times when what we want, or who we want fills our minds constantly. In these times it is almost impossible to concentrate on God, reading His Word is dry and boring and going to church is a chore, because all we want is that one thing, to the exclusion of God!

 

Let me be specific… it is wrong to want success. It's not bad to be an ardent supporter of a football club, or a fan of a singer. It's not wrong to love a car, love your house or love your spouse. These are normal, wonderful feelings that bring us joy. But there is a line!

 

It becomes wrong when we exclude God and become obsessed with the thing or person.

 

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

When you want it more than you want God, you're infected!

 

2.     WHEN CONVERSATION IS ONLY ON IT

 

Our conversation gives our heart away! What do you talk about a lot? What fills your speech?  When the things of the world engross most or all of our conversation, we are loving the world.

 

Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

In other words, what you are constantly talking about gives away what your heart is really obsessed with. If your conversation rarely includes God, what you've read in His Word, serving the Lord, church activities, etc. then ask what you are actually talking about!  If you talk more about worldly things than about God, you're infected!

 

3.     WHEN YOU CANNOT OR WILL NOT GIVE IT UP

 

If we are unwilling to part with something when need to, or to give it or anything in it up to God’s purposes, we are loving the world. When we refuse to give up something God asks us to, it is a sign that we love it more than we love God.

 

One of the hardest to give up to God is money… the Rich young Ruler

 

Matthew 19:21-22

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

He didn't just have great possessions, they had him! What is it that has you that you won't give it up for God? If you won't give up something or someone for the Lord, you're infected!

 

4.     WHEN YOU PRIDE YOURSELF IN IT

 

Pride is the original sin. If we pride ourselves in earthly distinctions, positions reputations or if we feel superior, if we expect others to treat us well and resent the smallest slight from others or take offence easily, we are loving the world.

 

God feels strongly about pride… He hates it!

 

Proverbs 16:5

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;

be assured, he will not go unpunished.

 

Even in the church pride is an issue! And the answer is not false humility, which is often how prideful Christians try and negate their pride. They gave me a badge for humility, but they took it off me because I wore it!

 

You can be proud of a job well done, or proud of your spouse, but that's not being prideful. When you become arrogant, feeling or acting superior, then you're loving the world more than the Lord, and loving yourself and your achievements instead of acknowledging that every success we have, every good thing we acquire, every compliment we receive is from God, not us!

 

If you're arrogant or prideful, you're infected!

 

5.     WHEN YOU HAVEN'T GOT IT BUT LONG FOR IT

 

You don't have to have possession of something to have obsession with it! What do you long for? Companionship? A new car? Prestige? Money? Someone else's wife?

 

Discontentment with our portion of the world’s goods proclaims a criminal love for it. If we secretly grieve because we are not blessed with every earthly convenience or experience that others possess, we are loving the world.

 

If we envy others we cannot truly trust God that He should distribute his own gifts as he pleases and to whom he pleases.  

 

James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

 

Some rich people, all they talk about is money…. And some poor people too! And some of us are obsessed with the pursuit of money.

 

Sometimes I've found that poor people are more obsessed with money than rich. Everything they talk about, think about and everything they do is about getting more money, and how much they don't have!  You don't have to have something to be obsessed by it!

 

What do you long for in your life? If you cannot answer more of Jesus and His Word, then it's a symptom of loving the world. If you're full of envy, you're infected!

 

6.     WHEN YOU PURSUE IT MORE THAN GOD

 

When we pursue the world with greater zeal and enjoy it with higher relish than we do serving God and enjoying his favour, we are loving the world.

 

So how much do you want something, and what are you prepared to do in order to get it.

 

1 Timothy 6:10-11

For the love of money is a root of all. kinds of evils. It is through this craving (longing) that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

 

Prostitute study. University campus, students were asked how much it would take for the, to sleep with someone they didn't know. Whatever the figure, you're a prostitute!

 

That verse says pursue righteousness, godliness, faith love, steadfastness and gentleness. Pursuing anything else, however good, reveals an idol in our hearts! If you're pursuing something that's not of God, you're infected!

 

 

 

7.     WHEN YOU USE ANY MEANS TO ACQUIRE IT

 

As believers we have a standard… we must be Holy because He is Holy.

 

When we seek to obtain or retain the world’s objects in a wrong or ungodly manner or by questionable means, we are loving the world.

 

Proverbs 11:3

The integrity of the upright guides them,

but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

 

When you love Jesus, the ends does not justify the means! If you are faithful to Him, if you are honest and have integrity, then you can rest assured that He is working on your behalf. You cannot lie cheat and steal and expect God's blessing. You might seem to prosper now, but you will give an account! If you're prepared to compromise your Christian walk and principles in order to get somewhere, or get something, you're infected!

 

THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF THIS VIRUS

 

1 John 2:15

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.

 

You cannot say you love God but live like you love the world! The two are incompatible. They are like oil and water, fire and ice, myself and classy dressing!

 

Imagine proposing to a girl and she says, “yes, I'll marry you, but I love and am devoted to my ex boyfriend far more than you and I am never going to stop loving him, and putting him first.” Would you go ahead with it? I wouldn't!

 

Matthew 6:24

“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.”  In fact, you cannot serve God and anything else!

 

1 John 2:16

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.

 

Verse 16 defines what the world system consists of with three parallel phrases:

 

LUST OF THE FLESH

 

The Word desires is actually the word lusts, from the Greek meaning to be hot after or burn for something. In our world we think of lust in a sexual way, but John is thinking way beyond that.

 

Lust of the Flesh means a burning desire for anything that satisfies your flesh, to the exclusion of what God wants you to have.  It is becoming a slave to pleasures, becoming  prisoner of your own desires. You might think you're free to satisfy your lust for everything , but no matter how nicely you decorate your cell, you're still a prisoner!

 

Taken to the extreme, lust of the flesh makes us become “gluttonous in food, . . . slavish in pleasure, lustful and lax in morals, selfish in the use of possessions; regardless of all the spiritual values; extravagant in the gratification of selfish or material desires.” And it is closely linked with…

 

 

LUST OF THE EYES

 

“The lust of the eyes” describes someone who is captivated by an outward show of materialism. See a new car, must have it. See a dress, must have it. See a position, must have it.

 

Cars, houses, dresses, positions, etc., are not in and of themselves sinful. But the inordinate desire to have what we see is sinful. An inordinate desire to have anything contrary to God’s will is sinful. It's lust of the eyes.

 

Our society, the world if you like, spends billions of dollars trying to stimulate the lust of the flesh and the eyes. If it's not sex, it's cars, houses or the latest gadget. We think that pleasure is our God ordained right, and we will pay any price to have happiness.

 

 

PRIDE OF LIFE

 

The third phrase, “pride of life,” describes the arrogant spirit of self-sufficiency. It expresses the desire for recognition, applause, status, and advantage in life. The phrase describes the pride in what life can offer you.

 

This is definitely part of our modern life, as evidenced by that which sums up our modern world… the selfie!  We have a self serving attitude in everything, and it's all about me. It's like standing in the old house of mirrors, where they have mirrors on either side of you. Everywhere you look as far as the eye can see, is me, me, me, I , I, I?

 

 

So all of these things are the symptoms of a mind viral infection called the LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS. Now let me conclude with God’s antivirus…

 

THE ANTIVIRUS

 

You can choose what you become obsessed with. You can follow a team, or be a crazy fan. You can love a person, or be consumed by your love of them. The choice is yours. David wrote…

 

Psalms 69:9

For zeal for your house has consumed me,

 

And later Paul encourages us…

 

Romans 12:11

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

 

The cure to the LOVE OF THE WORLD virus is simple… love the Lord more. But how can you do that? How can you fall in love with the Lord more and more every day?

 

We looked at it last week… the way to combat this virus, to protect yourself from it and to refuse it’s influence in your subconscious is simply this.  Fill your subconscious mind with the things of God, things that place God and His values centrally into  mind.

 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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.

 

The best antivirus program for your mind to combat and protect against this virus is to fill your mind with good and godly things. If you suspect that you're infected, turn off that TV, get off Facebook, stop reading 50 Shades of Gray and start reading the Bible, listening to Christian music and coming to church. Don't just surround yourself with godly thoughts, immerse yourself in them, until your zeal for God far exceeds the pull of the world.

 

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

Every one of us here feel the pull of this virus, without exception.  What is it that is pulling you, how has this virus infected you?

 

What is it that caresses you, obsesses you, possesses you?

 

I want you to Image you have your entire life in your hands and come and lay it before God this morning.

 

 

 

 

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Mind Viruses 1- Conscious and Subconscious Mind

July 3, 2017

Psalms 139:14

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

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

 

The fact that you are so wonderfully put together, far beyond anything modern science can create, is a testament to God Himself! However, I suspect that we mostly fail to understand and appreciate just how marvelous we really are!

 

YOUR BRAIN, YOUR MIND

 

 

And it all starts with your brain, as Ps Keith told us a little while ago.

 

Think of your mind as a computer. Most neuroscientists consider this a very poor analogy, because It is far more complex than any computer we know of, and its influences are far more wide ranging and subtle than anything we have that influences our computers at home or at work.

 

But, for the purpose of this message, let's consider your brain to be like a computer. But before you start commenting on your spouses hard drive capacity, or lack thereof, think about this… Just like your PC at home, or the phone in your pocket these days, there are loads of programs running in the background.

 

I recently upgraded Fiona's computer, and the salesman told me about a new service called Signature Edition, where for $200 the technician will go through your computer and remove all the unnecessary programs running in the background, so it runs much faster, leaner and meaner!

 

Whenever you boot up your computer, or phone or tablet, many programs that are entirely useless, start up. These do things like look for updates to software you're not interested in, enable the quick start of programs you'll probably never use, allocating memory in certain ways you don't understand and change the look and feel of software, so it's pretty. They all boot up automatically, and clog up the computer’s available memory, making things run slow.

 

In your computer, so many things are happening “under the hood”, the vast majority of which we have absolutely no idea about! And it's the same with our brains, and our minds.

 

UNCONSCIOUSLY CONSCIOUS ABOUT THE SUBCONSCIOUS

 

What you see in the screen is a fraction of what's really happening. The screen is like your conscious mind…

 

1.    CONSCIOUS MIND

 

This is like the headlines of a newspaper, summarising what's going on in a big, complex world. You can see it, manipulate and change it, but it's like the tip of the iceberg.

 

2.    SUBCONSCIOUS MIND

 

 

This is what's operating under the hood that you cannot readily see or control. It's what over a hundred billion neurones are chiefly doing in the background to keep your body functioning, and this allows your conscious mind to operate, unburdened by the details.

 

If you had to spend all day thinking about what your subconscious does, things like breathing, making your heart beat, digesting food and so on, you wouldn't get much done in your day, would you? Graciously God has given control of these important things to the subconscious.

 

Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)

 

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he:

 

In Hebrew the Word think means to think, to reason to split open or to calculate, and so the ESV renders the verse, “he is like one who is inwardly calculating.” Inward calculations for millions of actions are happening all the time in our minds, on a scale that would blow our minds, but most of these we don't even consciously recognise.

 

 

But here's the cool thing… what we call learning or training occurs when many complex tasks which start as conscious thought, then make the journey to the unconscious mind, and this can become really powerful. Think about driving a car, playing an instrument or learning a foreign language. When you can do these tasks in the background, your conscious mind is free to think and explore new possibilities.

 

This process is called learning. Think about how you felt the first time you tried to drive a car. Check the mirrors, foot on brake, let the clutch out, indicator on, etc. within a few weeks you can do all this subconsciously, and pretty soon you can drive while you listen to the radio, talk to a friend's and check your cell phone (don't do it!).

 

 

YOUR SOFTWARE IS WHERE?

 

 

And these things you learn, they're like software or apps. So I'm loaded with music programs, Zac is loaded with accounting software and spreadsheets, and some of you are fun loving so you're just loaded with games!

 

The problem is that, like most software, all of your processors, conscious and subconscious, are prone to viruses. In this series we are going to explore the viruses the world and the evil one might implant into our minds, how these can affect almost every area of life and how we can destroy them and protect our minds with God's anti virus program.

 

But before we explore viruses, let's have a look at how the programs running in the background can have a positive or negative affect in us. These are not viruses in themselves, but they can be infected by viruses. We've seen how learning become powerful when it transfers to the subconscious, but how can we apply that to our everyday life?

 

When your subconscious mind takes over tasks, tasks become automatic or ingrained. And that is the power behind good habits, and the danger behind addiction.

 

The ability to form a habit, good or bad, is written into each of our software.  But it's like the force in Star Wars, you can use it for good, or give in to the dark side!

 

GOOD HABITS

 

Recent studies suggest that it takes 1-3 months to establish or break a habit, and that sounds pretty long right? Marketer Matt Cutts suggested trying something for a month to see if you can change your lifestyle, and I believe that is a great place to start.

 

Whatever the term, establishing good habits is an essential element in growth. Godly habits such as having quiet times, praying or even attending church should be fairly easy to establish if we are determined to follow Christ, because when we decide to do things His way, He gives us the power!

 

Your software if you like forms your character, and some of it you probably don't like. Character changes are hard, unless we allow God's Holy Spirit to work within us, then we can rely on His strength and power, not our own.

 

To commit something to subconscious thought requires the repetition of actions, and this is what creates habits. That's why the Bible says,

 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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.

 

Simply willing yourself to think godly thoughts won't cut it in a world that constantly throwing ungodliness at you! But making a decision to only let godly thoughts into your mind is a sure fire way to win the battle of your mind, and see positive character changes occur in your life! So the prescription for godly thinking is to only allow those good things into your mind, and repeat this every moment day after day until it becomes a habit.

 

DRAW A LINE

 

If you want to establish a godly habit, you must draw a line in the sand and take your stand! Floating along with popular opinion, listening to news, talking to friends at school or work will never result in lasting change. Filling your mind with TV, movies, books or songs that are worldly takes all the power out of your life!

 

We must realise that our bodies, our minds and our souls belong to God, and we have to be obedient to Him, not give into or be controlled by our worldly lusts and desires, apps that are already within us working in the background.

 

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

How do you renew your mind? How to you establish powerful, godly, life changing habits in your life? You renew it, you fill your conscious mind with the things of God, and then, as you repeat this day after day, it leaches through into your subconscious and becomes a controlling part of your life!

 

 

ADDICTION… DON’T MAKE A HABIT OF IT!

 

 

A habit is not a black frock that nuns wear, it's a behaviour that become automatic. It can be positive or negative, and here's the thing, you can choose to further drive habits in or drive them out of your subconscious mind.

 

Many people around us don't rule their subconscious mind, it rules them! When they do things that  are destructive to the person, but driven by the subconscious mind, we call them addictions.

 

Webster dictionary defines addiction as a “compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance,” but we know addictions can go beyond heroin, meth, alcohol or smoking to include things like sex, computer gaming, gambling or hoarding. Addicts feel they have no choice but to obey the subconscious command, but ex addicts know that, with the right help and effort, you can break the pattern of addiction.

 

You may never lose the attraction to the substance or behaviour, but you can overcome the compulsive need to obey! The conscious mind can change and overcome the subconscious mind in the same way that an computer expert can bring up on screen and stop programs or viruses that work in the background adversely affecting our computer’s performance.

 

To do this you need a computer software expert, and I happen to know one… Jesus Christ.

 

The problem with addiction is that the subconscious mind is dictating to the conscious mind and exerting control over it. The subconscious program or app might have been present originally in your software, as it is in most of us, so you cannot just delete this app. It is part of you, and it has turned rogue against you!

 

And while it might take 1-3 months to establish a godly habit, the devil knows he can turn an action into an addiction in less time than that. Why? Because these bad habits centre on pleasure, and when we elevate pleasure above what is right, we can easily and quickly fall victim to addiction!

 

But don't get me wrong… pleasure comes in all kinds of forms, some good, some bad. But even good pleasures like work satisfaction, surfing or shopping can become addictive and thereby destructive, if they begin to control you rather than you controlling them. You will eventually find them empty, hollow and lifeless.

 

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

 

 

CHOOSING ADDICTION

 

 

Some classify addiction as a physical disease. It's not… there is no science supporting that. Making addiction a disease is an attempt to absolve an individual of having to take personal responsibility for their actions. Addiction is not inherited from your parents, although some argue a  predisposition may be, and it is not something that is socially thrust upon you without any control by you.

The reality is that Addiction is about choice. Addictions are habits created by choice, and it takes choices, the right choices, godly choices to deconstruct them.

 

Yes some may have more addictive personalities, and yes there may be a predisposition towards a particular addiction, either physical or social. But that doesn't mean that you are condemned to do it! You still have a choice, and ultimately you reap the fruit of the choices you make!

 

Sometimes there is a physical dependency to break, but often the psychological dependency is the harder one to break. And the basis of this is choice.

 

You can control your urges! Your dad may have been an alcoholic, and you may be drawn to alcohol and the excessive consumption of it. But you still have a choice, right? I'm sick of hearing that addicts, gay people or abusers are preprogrammed to act that way, therefore they must. Sure, they may have tendencies, but ultimately they make a choice. You can control your behaviour if you choose to. Serial killers have a tendency, a desire to kill, but we don't let them murder people and then excuse them of it because it's in their nature? It's still a choice!

 

An addiction is a bondage that starts as a choice, but then leads to excess and then dependency…

 

Ephesians 5:18

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

 

That first drink, that first cigarette, that first sexual encounter, and if you do it more and more it can give rise to an addiction. Addictions generally start with a choice then move into excess,… and the only way to break the bad habit is choice… good not bad choices!

 

Breaking an addiction is certainly not as simple as making a single choice, but it starts with making a choice.  To fully break an addiction, it takes hard work, dedication and faith to stick to the right choice. The allure, the attraction of that habit rarely disappears. Most often it is there, drawing you forever. But you can make the choice, and if you look to God's power, not your own, He can and will establish you. You'll find it hard to overcome addiction, but God can break any bad habit.

 

YOU HAVE TO SERVE SOMEBODY

 

 

God created us with free will, and we value freedom. We insist on being free to make our own decisions, even if many of them are potentially destructive! We want to be free, but here's the crazy thing… ultimately we have to serve somebody (It may be the devil or it may be the Lord… thanks Bob Dylan)

 

You see, every software program runs on an operating system. Some of you are Apple, and some are Microsoft. Apple is more stable, but Windows is cheaper and far more universal. Programs and apps don't exist by themselves, they function in and are slaves to your operating system of choice.

 

And so the choices you make in your conscious and subconscious mind depend on who you are a slave to. You cannot just be free… you need to choose whom you will serve…

 

 

Romans 6:16

…you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

 

Romans 6:21-22

But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

 

So if you struggle with addiction, with breaking bad and destructive habits, then stop being a slave to them, a slave to sin, and instead become a slave to righteousness, because then the power of God can break those habits off you!

 

Accepting Jesus Christ into your life is like changing the operating system, because if affects all the software, apps, actions, habits and character of your entire life. You can try and overcome addictions and destructive apps by yourself, and you might have some degree of success, but it will never be as effective as installing a completely new operating system… asking Jesus into your life!

 

Some of you have previously asked Christ into your life, but you're not walking with Him in obedience. You might have asked the Lord  for a new operating system, but your good apps cannot function correctly because the RAM is being fully utilised by bad programs, habits or destructive addictions. You also need to come to Christ and ask His forgiveness and trust Him for His power to begin to break off these bad habits and addictions.

 

MAKE ONE GOOD DECISION NOW

 

 

And when you make one good, righteous choice and follow through with it, it leads to another and another and pretty soon you break the power of those bad habits, and you build the right habits into your subconscious!

 

David Gushee said, “Right attitudes, dispositions, perceptions, and motives both create the conditions for making good choices and also are the fruit of good choices. There is a kind of moral feedback loop functioning here. The way you become a good person is by making good choices. This pattern of making right choices trains your will to exercise your freedom rightly over and over again.”

 

Today if you want to reprogram yourself, it all starts with a choice. Remember, your mind is like a computer… and you get to choose your operating system. You ultimately stand or fall not based on what your out of control subconscious tells you you must do, but based on the decisions your conscious mind makes. So what's it going to be? Jesus Christ or the world? Blessings or cursing? Life or death?

 

Now choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19).

 

If you are struggling with any bad habit or addiction, or if you are struggling to establish the good habits you need to grow in the things of God, then today I'm going to ask you to make that one, great godly decision upon which future decisions can hang!

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Winning the World for Christ

June 27, 2017

In this wonderful testimony, Ulrich Jaeger shares how a sponsored child through Compassion International in India became a connection where he not only was able to support, and eventually meet his sponsor child, but he was also inspired as he began to see how God can use someone like himself to help win the world for Jesus.

 

A fascinating, at times funny and certainly inspiring story that will bless you and make a difference in how you see the world!

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Bottles and Bowls- God’s Promises Will Come True!

June 19, 2017

We've been talking about wait watchers, how hard it is to wait for the Lord to answer His promises. I know that for some of you it's been a hard series and let's face it, none of us like waiting, especially if it is taking a long time.

 

As George Tuent famously said, “I'm in a hurry, and God isn't!” We've talked about and discovered that, far from being idle and letting you stew so you get more and more frustrated, God is actually weaving people and circumstances together to bring your prayers to pass according to His will.

 

Psalms 25:5

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

 

Sometimes the wait is all day long, day after day, and it gets hard and it gets… well, long! But today I want to finish this series with a wonderfully encouraging message about bottles and bowls….

 

COLLECTORS’ EDITION

 

People collect the strangest things. One collector has 24,999 toe nail clippings, and others collect Pez dispensers, celebrities hair, back scratchers (Manfred Rothstein owns 675 of them). Bettina Dorfman has 6,025 Barbies worth over $150,000. One Dutch collector has 6,290 air sick bags from over 1,000 airlines. 11 year old Luke Underwood owns over 7,000 McHappy meal toys, then of course there's things like autographs, beer mugs, coffee cups, Coke cans, stamps and coins.  Graham Barker has over 21 grams of belly button fluff, all home grown.

 

People collect things that are important to them, things they value, even if you think that they're a bit weird! And God is the same… He collects things that are important to Him…

 

TEARS IN A BOTTLE

 

Psalms 56:8

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

 

What a beautiful picture of a loving Father. God is not enjoying watching you squirm, He's not testing or trying you for no reason, He's not delaying the answer for His own amusement, He actually feels every pain, and He collects every tear. Why? Because He values them!

 

It's an exquisite description of the tender, personalised care of our Lord. He keeps a count of our wanderings or restless tossing during the night, of our fevered turnings from one side to another. I've had nights this week just like that, tossing to and fro trying to get to sleep but worrying about something almost against my will! Either that or heartburn.

 

And God cares so much about the details of our tears of sorrow that He can be asked to keep our tears in His bottle.   John Bunyan said, “God preserves our tears in a bottle, so that He can wipe them away.” When I read that, I wished I had cried more. We need to weep more. Matthew Henry said, “The tears of God’s persecuted people are bottled up, and sealed among God’s treasures.”

 

So what does this verse teach you about God, and about what you are going through or waiting for?

 

  1. GOD CARES ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BURDENS and SUFFERING

 

1 Peter 5:7

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

 

When you hurt, God cares. Many people ask God where He was when they faced pain, and the answer is right beside you. If you face trouble and pain alone, you do so by your own choice, because He is there willing to walk with you through it. Does it stop the pain? No. Does it help you cope? Yes.

 

Psalms 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I  will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 

Some of you are walking that road right now and it hurts, and He knows that. But He loves you, He collects your tears and He cares for you and urges you to reach out to Him in your pain.

 

2.     GOD CONNECTS HEARTFELT PRAYER WITH TEARS

 

God not only sees your tears, He connects them with heartfelt prayers, and they move His heart.  When King Hezekiah was told that he was about to die, he cried out to God and the Lord gave him another 15 years…

 

2 Kings 20:5

“I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.

 

Don't for one moment think that God is not moved by your pain and tears. He connects with them and they move Him, even move Him to action. And He can create great and amazing things from our tears if you let Him. Our tears can water the soil of our lives to produce great fruit!

 

 

Some of you might know that Fiona endured a very abusive childhood. Without those horrible, painful experiences, she might never have been inspired to found Lily House. Those tears were shed 40 years ago, and God gave her the vision for Lily House 27 years ago, but Lily House was founded 9 years ago. It took a long time for the tears to yield fruit, but they did, in God's timing.

 

 

 

3.     GOD COLLECTS  YOUR TEARS

 

 

We read Psalm 56:8 before, and the image of God collecting our tears and saving each one is beautiful.

 

 

In ancient times, at funerals some people use to cry and collect their tears in a small bottle, which was buried with the deceased. And God is like that with your tears. He sees them and He collects them and He keeps a record of them. He has a book of them, and not one tear falls to the ground, not one pain or hurt is wasted. God sees them all, He keeps a record and He collects them all.

 

Sometimes we feel desperate, but at times we are not. We don't shed enough tears but I'm telling you now, if you've shed tears and are still waiting, He cares and is moved by sincere tears and faithful hearts!  You might think you're tough, you might think that big boys don't cry. But let me tell you, real men cry, and it takes courage to shed tears, just as it takes love to collect them!

 

 

God is not looking for stiff upper lips or religious penitence. You can go to church every Sunday, you can paint on a happy face and pretend that everything is OK in your world, and you might fool your friends and the pastor, but you won't fool God.

 

 

Psalms 51:16-17

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

 

When you are open, when you are brave enough to cry out to God with real tears, God collects them, cherishes them and is moved by them… a broken heart He does not despise!

 

 

 

4.     GOD KNOWS WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT BEAR

 

 

We know 1 Corinthians 10:13 talks about God not tempting us beyond what we can bear. This verse is about temptation, but what about pain, persecution, despair? … Does God know what we can bear, and what it takes to accomplish what He is after in us? This is from the Apostle Paul…

 

 

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

 

 

God’s Holy Spirit is within you if you are a believer, and His Spirit can lead and guide you through anything that comes your way. If it's too much for you to bear, cry out to God, and He will respond to your tears and help you bear it. If it seems overwhelming and beyond you, even to the point of despairing for life itself, then God can and will make a way for you! His Spirit can take over when you reach the end of your ability to bear it.

 

 

5.     GOD FEELS THE PAIN

 

 

Remember, tears can be prayers just as much as words are, and they travel to God when we can't speak.

 

 

Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

 

 

I wonder if those groaning too deep for words include tears? I know I've been so hurt and despondent that tears wouldn't even flow.  We are peering into the unseen world of the Spirit here, but sometimes all we can utter is Dear Lord, and then sometimes we are so hurt, so numb that all we have are tears, or maybe we're even beyond tears. Martin Luther once said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer,” and I think he is often right. When we reach the end of ourselves, His Spirit is there to intercede for us!

 

 

BOWLS OF PRAYERS

 

 

Revelation 5:8

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

 

 

Not only does God collect our tears, but He also collects all the prayers of the saints in golden bowls, bowls of prayers, that are ever before Him.

 

 

Those prayers are precious… they are in golden bowls, and they are constantly before the Father. Wrap your head around that now, the prayers you pray are ever before the Father Himself! He not only collects your tears, but He collects your prayers and values them too!

 

 

1.      OUR PRAYERS ARE NEVER LOST

 

Some you pray and you feel like your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling. You might have believed once, but it's taken so long and hurt or frustrated you so much that you feel like you've wasted your time believing God.

 

 

The elders hold the bowls of God because the prayers are precious to Him, because He values them.

 

 

Psalms 34:15

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.

 

That prayer you prayed last week, last year half a lifetime ago is not floating out in the never never. It's not like when you send an email and the address is not quite right and it floats away never to be seen again. Your prayers are valuable, and no matter how long ago you prayed, no matter how much pain you've gone through, no matter how much water flows under the bridge, they are still there in those beautiful golden bowls.

 

 

2.      GOD IS BLESSED WHEN YOU TURN TO HIM

 

 

We've seen in this series how we tend to be independent souls, doing our own thing, taking matters into our own hands. It didn't work for Abraham, it didn't work for Saul and it is not what God wants from you. He is blessed when you turn to Him and share your heart’s desire with Him and when you remember all He has done for you…

 

 

Psalms 103:1-2

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

 

 

Turning to God, crying out to God, shedding tears and heart felt prayers to God acknowledges your dependency on Him, and He loves to bless you right back!

 

He doesn't want you to do it all yourself, He longs for you to let Him flow through your life.

 

 

3.      DELAYS ARE NOT DENIALS

 

 

Psalms 69:3

I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.

My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

 

Some of you feel like that, you're weary and sick of crying those tears. But let me encourage you… God answers prayer. Your prayers are ever before Him, in those golden bowls, but remember, there are 4 possible ways He can answer you…

 

Yes

No

Wait, or

Wait I have a better idea!

 

 

As we have seen, God is not just there to meet your every request. He's not a performing animal or a celestial Santa clause whose job it is to bring you what you want in life, He's God, and He has perfect knowledge and perfect timing.

 

When He delays, it is not to frustrate you or wreck your life. Delay should not be seen as denials, but instead they are golden opportunities to show God that you trust Him.

 

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

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

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

 

If you want straight paths, if you want to see those heartfelt prayers answered, trust Him. Read the Word daily, get to know Him, cause you cannot trust someone you don't know! Most of the people I know who are struggling with waiting on God don't spend time with Him every day. They neglect Bible reading, and prayer becomes a lifeless monologue.

 

 

If you want to prosper, if you want those prayers to be answered, even if it's a no or a wait, then get close to God. If you're tired of waiting, make a commitment right now to spend the time with the Lord and read His Word every day.

 

 

 

4.      GOD ANSWERS AT THE RIGHT TIME AND IN THE RIGHT WAY

 

 

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

 

 

God has a perfect timing. He has a perfect plan for you! Remember those prayers are still in the golden bowls, and He is still God, and they are still before Him.

 

So if His timing is perfect, how do you move your prayers up in His agenda? How do you make Him answer sooner?

 

 

That's the thing, you can't! But here's a secret, if you get closer to God He will get closer to you, and the importance of those tears and those prayers will fade away, because all you want is to know Him! The closer you get to God, the more your will conforms to His, and the closer you get to God, the less important your agenda and timing becomes!

 

 

At the right time, and the appointed time, Those bowls of prayer will be poured out!

 

 

So my question to you is this…

 

 

WHAT IS IN YOUR BOTTLE, AND WHAT IS IN YOUR BOWL?

 

 

What is it that you have prayed for and asked God for? What is it that you've cried tears for. Those tears that the Lord has counted and stored up for you?  He's collected those tears and His heart is reaching out to you today. But what about the prayers in the golden bowls? Are they still there, even if God seems distant and like He's not even listening?

 

 

Here's the thing… He won't take those prayers out of the golden bowl, He will answer them. The only one who can take them out of the golden bowl is you… when you decide to give up!

 

 

We take our prayers out of God's bowl when

 

  1. We don't trust God to answer
  2. We give up on God and try and do it ourselves
  3. We just plain give up

 

 

You trusted Him for salvation once… do you think you can trust Him with your future, with the longings of your heart, with your prayers… with your tears?

 

Today some of you have been praying for something for so long, you feel like giving up… some of you have already given up. Maybe it's someone you love who has rejected Christ. Maybe it's a financial breakthrough, a house, a job, a plus sign in your bank account. Maybe you're lonely, and you've prayed for a partner, someone to love you and stand with you.

 

 

If you believe that God has given you a promise and it is slow in coming, please stand. I want to encourage you to not give up, and if you've pretty much given up, today is the day you place that prayer back in the golden bowl.

 

 

Today is the day when we see a return on all those tears  through the years, today is the day we place our prayers back in the bowl and we believe that God is the Lord, He's our Father and He loves us, and will answer us!

 

 

Lamentations 3:25-26

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

Our team would love to pray with you, and stand with you, because today is a day of miracles.

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Wait Watchers 2- Wait with a Healthy Faith

June 5, 2017

We are looking at waiting, and in particular how you wait for the Lord to come through for you. Last week we discovered that waiting is a part of life, and it is also a part of growing in maturity in Christ. Want to grow into a mighty man or woman of God? Then you will have to face the issue of waiting on the Lord, and waiting with the right attitude!

 

In our Bible readings this week we  looked at Job. He was a righteous man, and did nothing to deserve the pain thrust upon him. And sometimes it's like that for us… we don't get what we deserve, sometimes bad things happen to good people, and that's how life and sin in the world is. I noticed that Job’s wife couldn't handle it… she said,

Job 2:9

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”

 

But Job would not, because integrity was all he had left!  He refused to curse God, even though he was confused at what had happened, upset and probably angry. What keep him going through this horrible time? What kept him believing God when those around him failed? How, in the midst of loss and disaster, could Job keep trusting God, no matter how long or how painful?

 

Job had a healthy faith. Job’s faith was based on the God he knew and trusted, not on circumstances, not on friends and not on his wealth and success. That's a healthy faith! Now let's look at someone else who complained, cried out, but developed a healthy faith…

 

UNDER SEIGE

 

Habakkuk 2:1-3

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower,

and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

 

 

So Habakkuk is a prophet, and he sees the invasion of the Babylonians coming at them like a freight train. Just as Jeremiah lamented this same situation in last week's reading, Habakkuk is seeing it coming. He is on the watchtower looking out at impending disaster , and he's not silent.

 

He'd been complaining to God for 2 whole chapters now, saying things like,

Habakkuk 1:4

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

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

 

He accused God of being unjust in judging His people. Especially that He used the evil, perverted and utterly ruthless Babylonians do so! He said, “OK, were sinful, but they are worse, so how come they get to conquer us when they're far worse?”

 

And that's a valid question, right? How come what You promised me is taking so long? Why am I in weight watchers when that horrible person over there seems to have it all, and they're not even honest or a Christian?

 

Interestingly, in verses 1 and 2, “and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me:” those two words answer are different in the Hebrew. The Lord’s answer means “to reply, to pay heed to,” but Habakkuk’s answer means “to turn back, to retreat.” So like we discussed last week, the prophet made his complaint, had his rant, but then retreated or turned back to receive the Lord’s answer. There's a lesson here… plenty of people rant and rage, but few go to the next phase of stepping back and listening for God's answer, then trusting Him.

 

So if you are waiting, it’s frustrating, right? It's long, it hurts, you feel like you're in limbo, in a holding pattern, or even going backwards. Like Habakkuk you're mad, you think God is being unjust, you see ungodly people prospering when you're not, so you cry out and complain … and that's OK, because as I said last week, God is big enough and He can handle  it. But when you're done ranting and complaining, it's time to retreat from your supposed moral high ground, sit back and listen.

 

I CAN’T HEAR YOU, GOD!

 

Now ceasing the rant and actually listening is particularly hard in the 21st century. Never before in history has morality been challenged like it is today. As a society, on issues of morality, we have not a clue.

 

Not so long ago abortion was rare, gay meant happy and trans was a type of fat you don't want in your diet. Now our society protects the rights of criminals, but sanctions and even funds the murder of babies. The media wants to redefine what a marriage is to make it something our fathers and grandfathers would never recognise.

We don't know who we are, we don't even know what gender we are, who we should marry or what we believe about pretty much anything. And whatever we believe is likely to change next week. How do we hear God in a moral landscape that is twisted and shifts like sand in the wind?

 

We have one authority, one moral compass folks… the authority that doesn't move every year, doesn't change based on what 60 minutes thinks, isn't subject to Facebook trends or afraid of social media, the authority that doesn't use cute slogans to justify seismic changes in morality, the authority that never changes and lasts forever… the Word of God!

 

If you are waiting and waiting and have no answers, by all means cry our to God and tell Him how you feel, but then retreat or step back, open His Word and pour it into your life. The Bible reading plan is working for so many here, so if you're struggling to wait, don't get mad, don't get discouraged, get into the Bible, get into prayer and listen, obey and serve.

 

We read earlier the first 3 verses of Habakkuk 2, but let's take a look at verse 4…

Habakkuk 2:4

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

 

So the first 3 verses lead to the 4th, which says the righteous shall live by his faith, and the Hebrew word for faith here is MUNA, which means “firmness, moral fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness.” How interesting… in a world where morals are discarded, where nothing is stable and everything seems wrong and unjust, Habakkuk says the righteous, which is you and I , shall live by firmness, moral fidelity, steadfastness… by healthy faith!

 

If you are waiting today, if you feel unjustly treated or like God is taking too long, this morning I want to build healthy faith into your life, because the righteous live by faith!

 

FAITH TO LIVE BY

 

Faith is a term that some in the church have tried to hijack! Some teach that we can choose the promises we want, forget the conditions and simply try to muster all the belief we can that God will prosper and heal and save and bless us. That He'll give us what we want when we want if only we can summon a mustard seed of faith.

 

We live in a consumer society, where the slogan “What's in it for me” is the basis of nearly every action and transaction. Church, consumer faith is not faith at all. So many have had their faith in God destroyed because they were taught to believe God for something He never promised in the first place.

 

We don't need consumer faith, we need healthy faith, the faith that sustains you when times are hard, when the road is long, when the wait is painful beyond measure. Healthy faith that moves mountains isn't wasted on trivial pursuits and consumer goods, it's the faith that us centred not on me and my wants and my desires and my welfare, but on Christ.

 

Isaiah 26:3

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

 

Trust here means to find refuge in, to be secure, to trust, to hope and to have an unshakable faith in God. Regardless of circumstances , if our minds are on God, our trust is in God, our faith is in God, we cannot be shaken!

 

So what is this healthy faith, the faith by which the prophet says the righteous live by?

 

HEALTHY EMOTIONS AND HEALTHY FAITH

 

2 Timothy 1:7

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

 

God’s Word promises that His children can have power, love and a sound mind, although the way some Christians carry on you'd be excused for thinking that a sound mind wasn’t part of the deal! The foundation of a sound or self controlled mind is healthy emotions, and the healthy faith that we are to exhibit grows from healthy emotions, which are constantly under attack by our society.

 

Think for a moment about how your emotions play into your faith. You feel great and you have faith. You feel down, sick or discouraged and your faith wanes. Modern consumerism plays on emotions, our TV and videos tug at our emotions and people are more emotional about even small things now than ever before. Get on Facebook and you will often see a raw flood of emotion which years ago people would never reveal! The anonymity of the internet makes people say things they would never say to your face!

 

Healthy faith is not just trying to believe, not just a feeling, it is a way of life! It builds healthy emotion, not the other way around. Our faith is never independent of our emotions, but it must not be controlled by our emotions. Let your emotions stem from a healthy faith, not the other way around. Healthy faith not only loves God, but trusts Him enough to wait patiently, yes there's that word again, WAIT. Let's have a look at what healthy faith and therefore healthy emotions look like in our modern culture…

 

1.      HEALTHY FAITH FOSTERS SELF WORTH

 

Many Christians feel they are not worthy, despite receiving forgiveness for their sins and knowing that Jesus loves them and shed His blood for them on Calvary. Having a health faith in God helps us to see ourselves as God sees us, as valuable, lovable, forgiveable and changeable. We begin to see that we are not an evolved ape, not a product of chance, but that we are created in the image of God, and that we are chosen to be princes and princesses…

 

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

 

He chose you, He adopted you, He gave you His Spirit. Healthy faith takes its eyes off perceived circumstances, off what you think, off how you feel and you begin to see all things, including yourself, as God sees you.

 

2.      HEALTHY FAITH MANAGES ANGER IN LIFE’S STORMS

 

Life is full of troubles, and even if we have faith we face storms of various kinds. Whether it be relationships troubles, divorce, rebellious kids, sickness, finances, stress or anything else, without a healthy faith you are thrown around, you're on an emotional rollercoaster and so many are destroyed by the emotional price these stressors exact.

 

What happens to you in life is not nearly as important as how you choose to react to it. Emotionally healthy people keep a balanced and measured perspective on their difficulties and can respond appropriately. People who fire up, rant rave, write abusive letters, vent their spleen on Facebook or cut others off are generally emotionally unhealthy.

 

James 1:19-20

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

 

Healthy faith in Christ creates healthy emotions and this gives rise to healthy relationships. It also enables you to face and conquer events and stresses that others fall apart under, because when healthy faith meets troubles or attacks it responds rather than reacts. A reaction is immediate, emotional, usually disproportional, and causes inflammation of the situation. A response is delayed, measured, thought through and defuses the situation.

 

Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

This does not mean that healthy faith never gets angry. I’m sure Habakkuk, Job, Jeremiah, Paul and everyone else in the Bible felt anger, but as Paul says,

Ephesians 4:26

Be angry and do not sin;

When properly directed, the energy that anger creates can be very constructive.

 

Anger makes a poor master, but an excellent servant. Emotionally healthy people direct the energy created by anger into constructive activities. If they get angry, they might go for a walk and cool down instead of reacting and saying what can never be retracted or doing things that can never be undone. Anger in my life often gives rise to determination, and that's a great use of a potentially destructive emotion! Wise people with a healthy faith put anger to work for them.

 

So when your faith is healthy, it is not that you never get angry. It's how you respond that reveals the state of your faith! Healthy faith weighs and measures its response. It doesn't react to little things but keeps its eyes on things above!

 

3.      HEALTHY FAITH REDUCES FEAR OF THE FUTURE

 

Fear is an ever present emotion in our world. Fear of terrorism, fear of financial collapse, fear of failure, fear of loss… for some folks, fear paralyses their life, and we are seeing more phobias and mental illness than ever before.

 

Fear of change is a huge fear to many, and a healthy faith lessens one’s fear of change. To live is to grow, so to resist change is to resist growth. Emotionally healthy people are not afraid to change if it means growth, because their healthy faith is grounded not in what they know and are comfortable with but in Christ, and in reaching their potential in Him.

 

Matthew 6:34

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

 

Healthy faith has no fear for the future, change or otherwise, because real faith is based not on circumstances, not on what might happen, not on fear of loss if we change, but on the Word of God, which never changes!

 

This church has undergone many changes, and continues to change. If that upsets your apple cart I apologise, but it's not going to stop, because I am going to continue pressing into the Lord and changing where I believe He calls us to change. If that's a problem, I love you, I want to guide you through the changes, but I'm not going to stop obey God to appease you! Change is inevitable if we are to grow, change is growth! Healthy faith does not fear it!

 

4.      HEALTHY FAITH MODERATES STRESS AND TENSION

 

We all face stress and tension, and it's not all bad! Believe it or not, stress and tension are essential for excitement, motivation and growth in life. With a healthy faith, you can trust more and worry less. With a healthy faith, we recognise that our earthly possessions will perish in time, so why waste time now worrying about them? Those with healthy faith and thus healthy emotions spend time on what is of eternal significance, such as relationships and learning about or serving the Lord.

 

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

Worrisome people are overwhelmed by earthly  things, but those with a healthy faith realise that earthy things have little eternal significance, therefore they worry less about them! If your eyes are in the eternal, your faith is healthy. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of earth grow strangely dim, as does its worries and stresses!

 

5.      HEALTHY FAITH FINDS JOY IN GIVING

 

People grasp things. People want things, and take them where they can. It's human nature.  Giving is contrary to human nature, but an essential part of Christian living. Most people always put themselves first, what they want, what they think and where they're going. We call it, “Looking out for number one,” and it is part of business, commerce and even social security, where all anyone thinks about is what benefits they can get.

 

Healthy faith doesn’t take, it gives rise to a generous spirit, because a healthy faith believes God's promise, whether you have riches or not…

Malachi 3:10

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

 

A healthy faith is generous with both time and money, because we realise that as we give, far from losing something, we are placing ourselves in the way of God’s blessings, and God, who cannot lie, will see His promise fulfilled in us!

 

And if you're waiting right now, don't fret and don't grasp. Have a generous spirit, have an open and kind heart and keep giving, keep serving and keep blessings others around you.

 

6.      HEALTHY FAITH IS BIBLICAL

 

Emotionally unhealthy people usually isolate themselves from other believers, or chase after experiences that are without Biblical support and are harmful to healthy faith. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our Coast is full of people chasing experiences and cheap parlour tricks rather than the faith the Bible talks about.

 

In this church, if it's not in the Bible it won't fly at all! I'm all for everything the Holy Spirit has for us, and I too am praying for manifestations of the Spirit, but I'm praying for salvations, healings and miracles in people's lives, not weird gold dust, angel feathers and aberratant behaviour.

 

Mankind seeks sensationalism, we almost lust for signs, but Jesus faced this too..,

 

Matthew 12:38-39

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.

 

Paul told Timothy that he needs to examine everything Biblically…

 

2 Timothy 3:14-15

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Healthy faith is built on the Word of God, not on sensationalism or cheap entertainment.

 

7.      HEALTHY FAITH GROWS YOU IN GOD

 

Healthy faith always continues to grow in the things of God. Healthy faith grows in the knowledge that God is love, and that God's agenda is to grow us to be like Him.

 

Unhealthy people see God as threatening, overbearing, restricting and controlling. Some see Him only as the God of judgement, destroying the wicked, punishing believers when they step out of line, and if you really know God you'd realise nothing is further from the truth!

 

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

Healthy faith grows to know a loving, caring, beautiful Father who is for you, not against you…

Romans 8:31

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

 

Yes God gets angry, yes God disciplines those He loves, but He is always loving, and healthy faith grows that love. And the more you know that God is love, the more that in turn grows your faith!

 

8.      HEALTHY FAITH IS BALANCED

 

Work life balance is part of healthy faith and an emotionally healthy life. In Genesis 2:15 God gave people work, but in Genesis 2:2 and Exodus 20:8-11, God made provision for a day of rest. God gives us work and He also gives us play, so a healthy balance is an essential part of a healthy faith.

 

God gave people work in Genesis 2:15. He also gave them play, for He designated one day in seven for rest and worship (Gen. 2:2; Ex. 20:8-11). By keeping this balance, emotionally healthy people learn to work hard and rest well.

 

So now we know what it looks like, how can you attain healthy faith?

 

RESTORING EMOTIONAL HEALTH THROUGH HEALTHY FAITH

 

People who feel emotionally unhealthy are often internalising the pain of past or present situations. It is possible to help heal these unhealthy thoughts and feelings. There are four steps for them to follow to help “pray through” the process.

 

1.      BE HONEST WITH GOD

 

Just as Habakkuk was honest, and Jeremiah was honest, tell God your feelings of hurt, fear even anger. He knows it all anyway, so get it off your chest. And when you're done, retreat as we saw Habakkuk do and listen to God, believing that He will answer you. Habakkuk 2:1

 

2.      CONFESS YOUR UNHEALTHY THINKING

 

Unhealthy feelings give rise to lack of faith, and, call it what it is, its sin. If you had a rant and got it off your chest, if you are fearful or angry or stressed, just confess it and move on. 1 John 1:9

 

3.      ASK GOD FOR A NEW WAY OF THINKING

 

Your faith will not grow if you don't change the way you think, to make it more like Christ’s.

 

So how do you change the way you think? It's easy to say, but hard to do. You stop putting things into your mind that drag you down, and instead you put the Word of God into your head instead…

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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.

 

4.      THANK HIM FOR IT

 

Join with Jeremiah and thank God for His steadfast love. It's new every morning for you, so thank Him for it…

Lamentations 3:22-26

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

If you want to impress God, have a healthy faith! Hebrews 11:6 tells us that faith pleases Him, and in the Bible you will see time and again that God rewards faith.

 

We've been sharing on waiting for God, and the way you can do this is to foster healthy faith in your life. Many of you here have been waiting, and waiting for a long time for God to do as He has promised. But all of us here need to develop a healthy faith, and none of us have arrived. Faith is like a muscle, you develop it by using it, so ask God for the opportunities to stand in faith!

Philippians 3:13-14

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

PRAYER OF FAITH

In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Dear Lord, see me through these hard times. In these troubling times, I am filled with unspeakable fears. I reach out my hand to you now, And ask you to walk besides me.

I cannot carry all my burdens, But I know you can, and will. Please walk beside me. Please guide me. Please help me hold on strong, Through the trials and storms.

Help me hold on to my faith, In even the darkest hour. Stay with me Lord, And show me Your way. In your love and Holy Spirit I abide. Amen.

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Wait Watchers 1- Why and How We Should Wait

May 29, 2017

Imagine being in Manchester over this last week…. Suicide bomber, 22 dead, nearly 60 injured. Now imagine a more widespread terrorist attack that painfully and more permanently alters your daily life. This attack destroys federal, state and local government buildings in your community. Somehow, the terrorists seriously damage local utilities, phone lines, cell phone networks and banking services. They murder many government and church leaders. Still worse, the attackers raze your home, rob you of all your possessions and kill your family members. You have no one left.

Welcome to Jerusalem in 586 b.c., following the invasion by the Babylonian army.

 

This is the backdrop to the book of Lamentations, which is a lament by the prophet Jeremiah over the city and the nation he loved, destroyed, deported, blown apart by a godless, cruel and vicious enemy. Your world, everything you've known and cared for, gone, ripped from your grasp! Nothing seems right, nothing seems fair, and everything seems way too long.

 

So Jeremiah writes 5 poems of sadness, fear, misery and anger towards God.  Today I want to focus on a few key verses in the middle of this gut wrenching lament…

 

Lamentations 3:22-26

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

I know many of you here are waiting on God. You've asked Him to lead you, you've told Him what you want, and you've started waiting… and waiting… and waiting. Things have taken longer than expected. Way longer. And now you've joined wait watchers and you are sitting there watching yourself wait.

 

You're frustrated , you're angry, you're impatient, you're losing hope! I understand, I've been there and wait is my least favourite word in the Bible.

 

Today I want to start a confronting but honest series called wait watchers. I know many of you need to hear this, as do I, constantly.  I know many of you are in wait mode, in a holding pattern , waiting what seems like an eternity for God to speak, for God to lead. As I share, don't take offence at the words, take it on board and recognise the incredible if painful things God is doing.

 

Now when you think of wait watchers, You might recall some great weight watching slogans…

A mind is a terrible thing to waste and A waist is a terrible thing to mind!
A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.
Bigger Snacks, Bigger Slacks.
Don’t give up what you want most for what you want at this moment.
Eat your veggies-have less wedgies!
He who Indulges, bulges.
If you hang your swimsuit on the refrigerator door, the goodies inside will be easier to ignore.

WHY ARE WE WAITING?

 

Jeremiah, in the midst of disaster, calls us to wait quietly and seek the Lord. He's not the only one found waiting in Scripture. In Genesis 15:4, God gave Abram  a promise, that he would have a child and heir. Cool says Abram, but he didn't know it would take 25 years of waiting to see it come to pass.  And I know many of you here feel God has given you promises, but they haven't happened yet and you are asking the same question, right?

 

When we are faced with waiting, our minds race ahead. Our fingers tap. And often we begin to question: “Where is God, anyway? Life wasn’t supposed to look like this.What is God doing? Why hasn't He answered my prayer?”

 

Question: Might God have a greater agenda than simply answering our prayer? If so, what's the big idea, God? I have come to believe God intends the holding patterns of life to be times of reflection and contemplation that draw us closer to him. They are times of invitation, when God calls us to Himself. They are not His attempts at frustrating us, angering us or or alienating us. They are times when He lovingly, gently teaches us to rely on Him and Him alone. He's a loving Father, and He doesn't make us wait for no reason. He loves us, and has a plan for us. And if we wait, He has a reason. So what could possibly be the reasons God might make you wait?

 

1.     GOD IS ORCHESTRATING THINGS FOR YOU

 

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

Does this mean God works only the things we like? Only the things we want and want now? It says all things, and this means the good, the bad and the ugly!

 

Even while you sit impatiently waiting, and often whining, God is likely orchestrating things behind the scenes, things you have no idea about, to bring about that which He has promised. Many big decisions in life like jobs, houses, cars and relationships are a complex interweaving of people, personalities and circumstances, and while we are busy complaining that God is taking too long, He is surely working behind the scenes on our behalf!

 

You trusted the Lord for your salvation, His blood shed on Calvary.You trusted Him for your partner, your business, your home, etc. in the past. If you are waiting right now, can you not trust this same Lord that He is working all things for good for you? Rather than complain, why not ask Him to reveal what He is doing, so you can learn to trust Him all the more!

 

2.     GOD IS DEVELOPING FRUIT IN YOU

 

In this world of ATMs, direct access, instant credit, and immediate gratification, the idea of waiting for something seems quaint, almost outdated. We rush through life. Yet waiting quietly for God’s blessings is a discipline that yields tremendous rewards. As we wait, we can begin to see God working in our lives,  and we begin to produce fruit of the Spirit in our character.

 

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

 

Was patience on that list? Yes it was, and in a world that is crazy for instant gratification, patience is a massive billboard for God on the highway of life! We teach our kids the virtue of waiting because it builds character, then we get mad at God if He makes us wait and teaches the same lesson.

 

But here's the good news. We learned in our series on the University of Adversity that, if we fail a test and fail to develop the right character or fruit, we don't fail the whole of life.  We just get to sit the exam again… and again… and again!

 

My advice is this: Get your heart right, stop being mad at God and learn the lesson and develop the fruit, so you only have to sit the exam once!

 

3.     GOD IS HEIGHTENING EXPECTATION WITHIN YOU

 

Believe it or not, waiting makes us rely on God and enjoy and appreciate the answer even more when it comes through.

 

Look at Hannah in our quiet times this week. She was desperate for a child, tormented by her peers, ashamed by her infertility, miserable and impatient.

 

1 Samuel 1:10

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

 

God heard her, God promised her, and God answered her prayer. And what was the result? She was so thankful, she dedicated her child to the Lord and He became one of Israel's greatest prophets … Samuel!  Heightened expectation makes the answer all the more sweet. You know this with your kids, and you need to recognise this with yourself.

 

4.     GOD IS TEACHING YOU TO RELY ON HIM

 

Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength” (Is. 40:31). A time of waiting can be a time of renewal. Waiting on God need not be wearisome, frustrating or miserable.

 

God often makes us wait so that we learn to rely on Him more. When Jesus heard that Lazarus His dear friend was ill, near death, we read this strange sentence…

 

John 11:6

So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

 

Do you think Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, were waiting? Do you think Jesus could have maybe rushed to His friends deathbed, or at least left on time? Of course, but Jesus said

John 11:4

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

 

Jesus waited, and His friend died, so that the miracle would clearly be seen for what it was… an act of God! When God makes you wait, He develops not only the fruit of patience, but also hope, expectation and deeper trust in Him. If you wait in the correct way, if you learn the right lessons and wait patiently, He will renew your strength. In fact, your waiting will give birth to a strength you never knew you had, and a faith that will move mountains.

 

5.     GOD IS TRAINING YOU FOR FUTURE SERVICE

 

1 Timothy 4:7-8

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

Waiting is God’s way of training you for future ministry. Melva told me last week how long she prayed for someone close to her to come to Christ. Now, do you think this lady has a prayer ministry? Do you think she might have a degree of faith that perhaps others do not?

 

I am an impatient person, always have been. Years ago I was almost constantly angry that God took too long to bring about what He'd promised me. Through a series of long, painful losses, including financial, relationships and ministries, I have learned some of the lessons of waiting patiently. And my faith is now far stronger, and my wisdom is now far deeper, because I have suffered and been forced to wait! I'm still in training, not perfected, but not wanting to sit extra exams!

 

HOW ARE WE WAITING?

 

John Piper said, "Patience in doing the will of God is not an optional Christian virtue, because faith is not optional and impatience is the fruit of unbelief. This is no minor skirmish!”

 

How you wait is a bigger deal than you think! Whether you wait for the Lord’s goodness is not open to debate, and is beyond your control.  But how you wait, the attitude with which you wait, is of paramount importance! So how does God want us to wait for Him?

 

1.     WAIT ACTIVELY

 

When God says wait, He doesn't mean sit down and twiddle your thumbs…

Psalms 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

Wait is qawa in Hebrew, and it literally means to bind, to gather or to wait expectantly in hope. It is not a passive, but rather an active word. The inference is that you don't stop what you are doing, you don't sit and sulk, you keep on serving, keep on giving, keep on trusting, you have courage and hope.  You keep on doing what you are doing with as one commentator said, “As if expecting new measures of help.”

 

So if you are waiting expectantly for the Lord, don't stop! Keep living, keep trusting Him, keep rejoicing, keep learning and keep waiting actively because He will never let you down!

 

2.     WAIT PATIENTLY

 

Psalms 37:7

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

 

It is tempting when we are waiting to not be patient, but God calls us to patience. This applies even if other people seem to be prospering, even if bad guys seem to be doing well while you suffer! Patience is a fruit of the Spirit , and I have found that the more patient I am the quicker I learn the lesson and the faster my answer comes.

 

Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of wait… WAIT! So wait patiently!

 

3.     WAIT WITHOUT COMPLAINT

 

Philippians 2:14-15

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

 

When you have to wait longer than you like, are you shining as you wait or are you a black hole of misery? If you're like me, you find it hard to wait without complaining… ,

 

Psalms 62:5

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

 

No, if you're like me, you don't wait in silence real good, you like to have a moan.

 

Now look, if you're expressing your anger, your frustration and your complaints to the Lord, He can handle it. He's big enough and has heard it all before. David often did this in the Psalms, and trust me, God is big enough to handle it! My advice to you is rant , rave, tell God what you think. Then get over it. As I said, if you get this wrong you have the joy of sitting the exam again, and again. So if you need to blow off steam, feel free. But let me remind you it doesn't impress God one bit.

 

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

 

Faith impresses God, not our rants, not our anger and not our presumptions.  And when you're done having your rant, humble yourself and pray and seek Him and then you have His attention!

 

4.     WAIT WITHOUT DICTATING TERMS

 

Many people tell God what they want from Him, them get mad if He doesn't do what they want, when they want. Listen, faith is not telling God what and how He needs to do things for you!  Faith is asking His will and obeying, even if it is contrary to what you want!

 

So if you are waiting, ask God for a word from Scripture and stop ordering Him around! I have found myself doing this at times. Something like God, I'm doing this right now and I order You to bless it, rather than Lord, show me what to do. If God gives you a Word from His Word, you can stand on that forever. But beware of claiming promises that He has never given to you. Let Him quicken a Scripture to your heart instead of you ordering Him to perform for you.

 

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

 

So don't tell Him what He needs to do for you, ask Him and trust Him without dictating terms. Want to see a real prayer of faith..

 Look to Jesus… not my will but Yours be done!

 

5.     WAIT WITHOUT RATIONALISATION

 

We humans are funny creatures… we can't just believe God, we think we need to give God an out, just in case He can't manage to keep His Word! 

 

We pray things like, if it's your will, Lord; not to truly be obedient to His will, but to give Him an escape clause just in case it doesn't come true!

 

When our reasonings differ from what God’s Word has revealed, we usually try to disguise our true motive. We rationalise, saying, Well, I can probably do without the promise, and we do this so we can pursue what we want to do rather than be obedient the the Word of the Lord. In essence we say, If God doesn't come through for me, then I'm not keeping my end of the bargain! That's right, the longer we wait, the more frustrated we get, we start to bargain with God!

 

How much better to have the faith and conviction of the 3 young men facing the furnace…

 

Daniel 3:17-18

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

 

They didn't rationalise , they didn't try and bargain with God, they just said, I'm believing, no matter what! If you're waiting for the Lord right now, can you say that too? Can you say whatever I see, whatever my friends say, whatever circumstances say, I'm believing Him, no matter what, and no matter how long!

 

6.     WAIT WITHOUT SELF FULFILLING

 

For me, the longer it takes the greater the temptation towards self fulfilment of God's promises. You know what I mean. God is taking too long, and you just might help Him out a Little bit, right? The do it yourself project!

 

When Fiona and I go shopping, I often suggest that we go to different places in the store to save time. I tell her I'll meet her at a certain aisle. But this often doesn't work. I arrive, she's not there, so I get impatient rather than wait for her, I go looking for her. Meanwhile she arrives, finds me not there, because I'm out looking for her. She doesn't know whether to look for me or wait. It's a mess.

 

I'm a man of action, I get stuff done. I don't wait, I act, with Fiona in the store and with God. So I tell the Lord, “FORGET IT, LORD, I’LL DO IT MYSELF”

 

The classic example in Scripture of this is Abraham. He had the promise, he waited, and waited, and after 20 years, still no promised heir. Sure, he kept believing God, but Sarah came up with a great idea, one she thought of all by herself...

Genesis 16:2

And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

 

Rather than waiting for God, they helped out, and took matters into their own hands. They chose a servant girl, Hagar, to be a surrogate mother for Abram’s son. It was logical, it was helping God, and guess what…  it was sin! And it's the gift that keeps on giving even to the present day.  This “solution” resulted in a complicated family relationship because Abram’s seed through Hagar gave us the Arab nations. Their conflict with the Jews, Abram’s descendants through Sarai, keeps the Middle East in constant turmoil.

 

When you're hanging onto a promise that seems distant or impossible, a wise man resists the temptation to take matters into his own hands and do it yourself!

 

7.     WAIT IN HOPE OR EXPECTATION

 

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

 

Hope in the Bible is different to the way we understand it.  I might say, I hope tomorrow will be sunny, I hope Queensland wins the State of Origin, but this is not what hope means in the Bible.

 

Biblical hope is a sure thing, a 100% safe bet. When the Bible says hope in the Lord, it means He will never, never, never let you down. When you wait with hope, it is the absolute surety that God will never leave nor forsake you.

 

Micah 7:7

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

 

WAIT WATCHERS

 

Over the next few weeks I want to explore what God really says about waiting. Many of you here are in holding patterns, waiting for the Lord, often angry, sometimes impatient, sometimes faith filled. God is speaking I believe to so many, but let me assure you of this. God is for you, not against you. God has a plan to prosper you, not harm you. He is growing something amazing in you. He has a hope and a future. He has a perfect way and today He is asking you to wait. To be strong, take heart and to wait for the Lord.

 

1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

This is why adversity, and waiting patiently, is a bridge to a deeper relationship with the Lord. He allows your faith to be refined by fire—just as gold is—it is heated, and heated, so that every impurity, doubt, anxiety, and frustration bubbles to the surface. Then, when He answers your long awaited, desperate prayers, all of those hindrances to your trust in Him are removed, leaving only purified confidence in His holy ways.

 

Can you trust Him? Can you believe Him for the future He promises? Are you trying to manipulate Him or ordering Him to do what you want? All of this, however desperate you feel, however difficult the circumstances and however angry you become, all of it is sin!

 

Can you keep praying, keep believing, keep pressing into God while you wait expectantly? EM Bounds said, the severer the trial and the longer the waiting, the more glorious the result.

 

James 5:7-8

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

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Full Potential 6- Taking God Approved Risks

May 22, 2017

Life has been described as a series of calculated risks. We've been looking at how we can reach our full potential in Christ, how we can become all that He has planned for us. We've seen that we need a clean heart and a clear mind, that we need to use our gifts, body and time the right way and that we must surround ourselves with the right friends and influencers, but here's the final step.

 

We have to take a chance! We face a life full of risks, if we are honest. Today is the day you need to decide to step out in faith, and take a chance on God, because life is full of risks…

I get up in the morning, turn on the light. According to one study, every year in the US 500 people die electrocuted by light switches. I walk downstairs, 16,000 people die doing this every year. There's water we drink, air we breathe, and that's before we get on the road in the 2 tons of lethal projectile we call a car. Risk is all around us, folks, like it or not, so let's address this topic head on… I believe we must get ready to act and follow the Lord into God approved and God arranged risks!

 

Now for some folk like me, I just say bring it on. My risk profile is skewed way over the the “Let's have a crack at it” side. But for many, you are fearful of stepping out and taking a chance because of the risk that you will fall or be hurt in some way. This is often because it's happened before, right?

 

Well today we are going to pour faith into your life in a scale you have never experienced before!

 

NO FEAR

 

Do you like to play it safe? Do you insist on guarantees? Are you afraid of change? In life, in relationships, in work, in ministry? Do you like to explore new possibilities?

If you truly are going to pursue your God-given potential, you are going to find yourself in situations and face opportunities that will require decisions and action. Some of those decisions and actions may appear risky to you, but to reach your full potential you must take those risks.

And unless Jesus comes in our lifetime, the only risk free truth is that you're going to die!

 

Does God want you to live a life that is totally risk free? No. He's more interested in your character than your comfort. But hey, you will want to make sure they are God given, God approved risks, not crazy, kamikaze, self destructive mistakes!

 

And the truth is that you have absolutely no way to comprehend all of the possibilities that an all-wise, all-knowing, infinite God sees for you. You cannot know with your finite mind and your limited perspective all that He knows.

 

So do you trust your opinions, or do you trust your Heavenly Father who has stated He wants the best for you, and He will never leave you nor forsake you.

A significant amount of risk is involved in trusting God in all things, in all relationships, in all choices, and in all decisions. Risk is part of the very nature of faith:

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

 

Want to please your Father? Siting in your comfort zone doesn't please Him. Believe in Him, listen to Him, obey Him and trust Him for the results. If you want to bless God, take opportunities He places before you without fear and with faith.

 

Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered… there was no one there!

 

What you see as a risk from your perspective could be the very situation that God wants to use to strengthen your faith. What you think holds the potential for loss or danger, God may very well be using to strengthen your character. What you view as taking a chance, very possibly could be what God will use to carry you one giant step closer to reaching your full potential.

 

RISKY BUSINESS

 

Consider the nature of a risk. It involves the possibility of suffering danger or a loss of some kind. We often associate taking risks with doing something that holds out the possibility of rejection or failure. There are elements of fear and disappointment that are part of every risk we take. The flip side of a risk is the possibility that we just might experience a great blessing or reward!

 

Is the prize worth the risk? Do you have and hold or is there nothing ventured, nothing gained? Do you like where your life is at right now? Are you totally satisfied? Do you risk the life you have for something greater, much greater, than could change lives around you and impact the world?

 

Question: if the prize is reaching your full potential, becoming everything you can possibly become with Jesus, how do we determine which opportunities to pursue in our quest to reach our full potential? We must never make decisions based on the degree of perceived risk. Rather, we are to make decisions solely on the basis of what God says. So the question isn't about the risk, it's about hearing and obeying the voice of God.

 

The truth is, choosing to do something solely on the basis of your limited understanding and ability leaves too much to chance. But pursuing God’s command—acting on the product of His unlimited wisdom and power—is not risky at all. If it is God’s idea, we cannot fail in our pursuit of it.

The challenge we face as opportunities come our way is to understand what God is doing and where He is leading. Taking God approved risks shouldn't have anything to do with the risk, and everything to do with the God approved part! The challenge is knowing for sure that you've heard Him right.

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF AN OPPORTUNITY IS FROM GOD?

 

I don't know what opportunity you're facing. Might be a relationship, maybe a job or business, it might even be going to church, stepping out in a new way in ministry.  If you are facing a challenge, opportunity or risk, how do you know what's God?

 

1.      GOD’S OPPORTUNITIES UPWARDLY CHALLENGE WHO YOU ARE

 

When God places His opportunities before us, He always challenges our God given gifts and talents, and our character, and it is always in the upward direction. The Lord does not call us to do something that is the total opposite of who He made us to be. He also won't call us to a challenge that requires more than the abilities and propensities that He already has placed in us.

 

God’s opportunities might stretch us, might make us feel uncomfortable, but they are in keeping with who we are so that we might become even more than who we are.

Isaiah 64:8

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.

 

2.      GOD’S OPPORTUNITIES CALL US TO SOMETHING

 

God doesn't call us to quit something and kick back and slack off for the rest of our lives. Ok, He may not reveal all the details, but He always has a plan, a special plan for you.

Jeremiah 29:11

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.

 

Take Abram for example. God called Him out of Haran, his home, but God didn't leave him there. God led him to a new, strange, promised land, and gave him the promise for his future… that Abram will become a mighty nation under God!

He was 70 years old at the time. Trust me, you are never too old to not be used by God. And God leads you forward.

 

If God leads you to stop something, then He is preparing you for something else, probably something greater! God delights in leading those who have the faith and courage to follow! So sorry, He's not calling you to laziness He's leading you forth to greatness!

 

3.      GOD’S OPPORTUNITIES ALWAYS BLESS OTHERS

 

I'm sorry, but God's opportunities aren't all about you! Yes you'll be blessed as you serve, but ultimately God’s opportunities invariably bless others, those around you. Success in an exam, a course, a business, a ministry or a relationship benefits you, but the aim is for you to bless others!

 

Think of Moses. He was free of the dangers or Egypt, and God challenged him to go back. No wonder he came up with a variety of excuses… I mean, who wants to walk back into the jaws of danger and defeat? He had nothing personally to gain, but God had a nation to be set free!

 

Ultimately he was blessed, leading the entire nation, but when Moses took the risk, it took real courage!

 

And what about Gideon, the reluctant leader, full of fear, threshing wheat in a wine press. When the angel greeted him with the words

Judges 6:12

“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valour.”

Gideon felt completely unworthy. And every step of the way he showed his lack of faith, fleeces and all, but God saw something in him that Gideon couldn't see! And shaky Gideon saved the nation, with not 32,000 but only 300 men.

 

Look at Esther, the beautiful queen whom God challenged to step up and and save His people. She had benefits being queen, but

Esther 4:14

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

 

If you act on what you believe is a challenge from God and suddenly are gripped with fear or doubt, you need to realise you're in good company! But then, put your eyes back on Jesus. Stop looking at the negative circumstances. Stop listening to the naysayer who doesn’t think you are capable or worthy of anything good from God. Today God is asking you to commit to trusting Him, and blessing others!

 

4.      GOD’S OPPORTUNITIES ARE CONFIRMED BY HIS PRESENCE

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water, he took a few steps and began to sink. But who was there with him? Who reached out a hand and saved him from drowning? Jesus was there. God’s Spirit was there with Paul when he faced his accusers, His Spirit travelled with Moses, His Spirit led Joshua and Gideon and Esther, and the same Holy Spirit lives in you, and will be with you always!

 

Look at the greatest challenge we all face… the Great Commission. Taking the gospel to the world!

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

As a believer, the Lord is with you. He leads you into God approved challenges, He remains with you every step of the journey. He does not forsake you nor does He abandon you, even if you have fear, doubt, or hesitation. Stay close to God, listen and obey and you cannot fail!

 

5.      GOD’S OPPORTUNITIES ARE ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY HOLY SPIRIT POWER

 

When God challenges you with an opportunity, He will always equip you for the task. So you need to learn how to hear and obey the Holy Spirit. That still small voice that nudges your conscience.

 

And here's the great thing… the action of the Holy Spirit is not just to give you a nice feeling, or a sense of where God is leading. The Holy Spirit is powerful! He's the creative force who can lead you into unbelievable blessing and incredible creativity beyond what you can even imagine!

 

Even this week the Holy Spirit has challenged me to a greater vision for this church. Yes we've grown. Yes there's a buzz in the air, but that's a fraction of what God has planned for us! I am not worthy of leading this church, and I do not have the power to lead you, but God has the power and through His Spirit I'm not going to stop trusting Him as your pastor. I am not good enough, I can do very little by myself, but who says I'm by myself? With His Spirit’s power in me, I can do all things.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

 We believed God to buy this building against all odds, and we can now believe Him to expand it, and to reach our area for Christ. But I'm going beyond that… I'm praying for millions around the world to be influenced for Christ by our Church. Are you with me? Are you part of that! Is God asking you to step out and take a chance on Him?

 

SO WHY DON’T PEOPLE RESPOND TO GOD’S CHALLENGES?

 

You would think that, if we received Christ, then we would surely know Him and thereby trust Him with what He is calling us to do, right? But the majority of believers don't respond to God's challenges.

 

1.      WE’RE MORE INTERESTED IN OUR OWN PURSUITS

 

Following Jesus means laying down our own personal agendas, desires and needs, and most of us struggle with that. We want what we want, and we often dress that up in religious garb.

 

I love the Lord, and I believe He demonstrates His power. He heals, He opens doors, He encourages and blesses us. But I am sick of hearing about people chasing the so called signs of the Spirit, wanting God to prove His presence here.

 

Listen, God is not a performing dog, and we shouldn't ask Him to conjure cheap tricks to prove He's here to you. The Bible says where 2 or 3 gather, and that's good enough for me! We need to put aside our own desires, agendas and yes, even needs, even the need to have something constantly proved to us, and ask what He commands us to do. We need to base our lives solidly on His Word alone,

 

Matthew 16:4

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”

 

I believe in a miracle working, all powerful God, but the obsession some folks have with so called manifestations is their own agenda. I’m begging for signs and wonders too, but I'm asking for souls to be saved, bodies healed, relationships restored and godly maturity!  To paraphrase JFK, ask not what your God can do for you, ask what you can do for your God!

 

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 

Christians don't respond to God's challenges because they refuse to lay aside their own agenda!

 

2.      WE WANT TO STAY IN CONTROL

 

Humans are control freaks… yes we are, admit it! We live to control things around us, and hate it when things even feel out of control, right? To grow our true potential in God, we need to take our hands off the wheel and let God steer! If you can trust Him for eternal life, why can't you trust Him for your daily needs instead of trying to control things…

 

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

 

But still we cling to the pathetic level of control we feel we have, instead of yielding to the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God of the Universe Who is on our side!

 

3.      WE ARE AFRAID

 

Matthew 6:31-34

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.

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

 

Are you fearful? Jesus says simply to not be! All the worried, fears and anxieties you struggle with are null and void in the hands of omnipotent God! All those fears… you need to let them go and get ready to step out and take a chance on a God who will never let you down and never let you go

 

4.      WE LISTEN TO THE DEVIL’S LIES RATHER THAN GOD’S TRUTH

 

We all hear voices in our heads, and if we are to pursue the right choices God has for us, we need to discern God’s voice from both the devil and even our own, selfish, self serving voice.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

To listen to God’s Spirit effectively you have to know Him, who He is and what He sounds like. And those other voices, don't try and push them away, don't try and reason with them, take those things captive. Don't entertain them even for a minute!

 

5.      WE EASILY RATIONALISE OUR DISOBEDIENCE

 

People are great rationalisers, and we are experts at excusing our behaviour, aren't we? When we fail to follow God into His ordained choices for us, we easily rationalise it away as something like, it's not my time, I'm not worth that or, in true Christian form, I just felt a check in my spirit about it!

 

Proverbs 28:13

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

 

Disobedience, call it what it is, is sin. Rather than rationalising away why you can't or won't follow God, confess it and move on into the destiny He has for you!

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Let me cut the the real reason we fail to follow the Lord into our God approved opportunities…

 

WE JUST DON’T KNOW HIM!

 

It's that simple, we don't know Him well enough. To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him. If you truly know God, I mean intimately like He wants to know you, you will have no issue trusting Him in every situation. The more you know Him, the more you are comfortable trusting Him, even if you are cautious by nature.

 

But getting to know Him takes time, effort and commitment. Do the Bible reading plan. Spend time in prayer. Fall in love with the lover of your soul. If you put the effort into getting to know God, you'll hear His voice and grow in confidence to follow Him into your destiny.

 

So the way to meet this final hurdle in discovering you full potential in God is simply this… get to know God. Put aside your agenda, lay aside your fears, take your eyes off what surrounds you and place them squarely on Jesus. He is here now, He loves you, He's already proven that. He longs to draw you near, He longs for you to trust Him. And I guarantee you, if you commit to getting to know Him, He will begin to lead you into the destiny He has planned for you…

 

Jeremiah 33:3

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

 

REMEMBER YOUR REAL PURPOSE

 

An airplane is meant to fly, a car is built to be driven, and clothes are designed to be worn. You have very little use for a plane that would not fly, a car that would not move, or clothes that can no longer be worn.

Why? Because their purpose is not being realised. It’s a great frustration to have things that are no longer useful. Do you think God might feel that way about us sometimes.

You were designed to know Him and make Him known, not simply to have a comfortable life. You were not created just to get married, have children and a successful career, then grow old and enjoy retirement. These are some of life’s benefits, its side dishes, but it's not its purpose.

The tragedy today is that we have taken life’s benefits and tried to make them our purpose. We’re trying to make the side dishes the main course. The result is that we often find the benefits very unsatisfactory. No wonder.

So if the purpose of life is not marriage, success, happiness, or any of that, what is it? What were we created for? Answer: we were created to know and worship God with an all-consuming passion. That’s it. That’s why Paul tells us to do everything to God’s glory.

 

TODAY GOD CHALLENGES YOU: TAKE A CHANCE ON ME

 

To take God approved risks you need 3 things… Courage, Obedience and you need to know God.

 

If you are going to do anything for God, you've got to trust Him. You trusted Him when you accepted His gracious gift of salvation, you trusted and believed that His blood shed on Calvary covers your sin, so why can't you trust Him with every part of your life? He's the same God, the same One who bled and died for you, the same one who bought you back from death, and the same One who has a plan for your life!

 

So what challenge, what opportunities is the Lord laying before you today? I believe God is speaking to people here, and I believe God is asking you to step out in faith. He might be asking you to try something again, He might be asking you to step up into a particular ministry. He might be asking you to just plant yourself here, rest and grow in Christ.

 

Total commitment, absolute surrender!

 

Whatever it is, I know it's scary, I know it's fearful, but if God is God you need to trust Him. And the only way to learn to trust Him is to know Him better and better. If you struggle trusting God, if you have fear right now about a decision you face, if you feel that God is distant, yet you long to know Him more, then this is your moment. I'm going to ask you to respond to Him. I'm even going to ask you to take a chance, take a risk, and come to the front of the meeting and let people who love you pray for you.

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A Mother’s Faith- Mother’s Day 2017

May 15, 2017

Today is Mother's Day and is I would like to study and celebrate the phenomenon of a mother's faith.

 

A MOTHER’S LOVE

 

Now we know that a mother's faith is born out of a mother's love, and I know in my case my mother's love is to a large part the reason I stand before you today.

 

Many a night as a teenager I went out and my mum’s prayers protected and sustained me. She prayed and protected me from my own stupid decisions and actions. And the grace of God got me out of some difficult situations. I'm sure most of you can relate to something like that.

 

But your mum may not be a Christian, and your upbringing may not have been part of your salvation experience. I mean, you may not even like your mum. You might have wished you were born into slavery rather than your family, but mums, today is the day we want to make it right for your kids!

 

We know what love is, or at least we think we do, but how many of us know that a mother's love for her children is something very special. But when we discuss love, English is a poor way to do it.

 

Think about it… I love my wife, I love the Broncos. I love my mum, I love Vegemite! Love in English is so universal and misused isn't it? I mean, we talk about “making love” when often the two parties don't love each other at all and they are using and abusing each other for sex. That's not love, folks! In the movies or in real life.

 

So to understand a mother's love, let's have a look at the 4 Greek words for love…

 

IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME!

 

1.      STORGE

Not used in the Bible, it refers to love, empathy or affection for something, mainly family members. “I don't like him, but I guess I have to love him!” The same word is used in loving your country or a sporting team. Or Vegemite.

 

2.      EROS

This is sexual love, from which we get the term erotic. Plato suggested that it also applies to attraction without the expression of sex, leading to the term platonic to refer to non sexual relationships.

 

3.      PHILIA

Affectionate regard or intimate friendship is referred to as philia, and it denotes loyalty, friendship and brotherly love. I'm guessing this approximates our concept of mateship.

 

4.      AGAPE

This is the highest form of love or charity, the type God has for man, and embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends and serves unconditionally regardless of circumstances. It is not affected by whether it is returned or not, it is unconditional love. Usually this is reserved for God's love for us, but not always.

 

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Interestingly, though storge fits for family love, a mother’s love is often referred to, especially in great acts of exceptional motherly love and charity as agape. It's  the unconditional, unassailable, undefeatable, love that is independent of anything you do, say or become, and true motherhood exudes this!

 

Great mums are fiercely protective of their kids. Most mums always see the good in their children, despite what everyone else thinks, and sometimes despite the facts.

 

Mums want to believe in you, whether you believe in you or not. They see the good in their children, even if no one else does. Hitler’s mum Klara took him to church and wanted him to be a civil servant. Napoleon’s mum was married at 13 and accompanied him into exile on the island of Elba.  Osama Bin Laden’s mum wanted him to stop fighting the west and come home to Saudi like a good boy. Donald Trump described his mum as smart as hell and  he said he's had trouble finding women to marry who compare to his her!

 

I read about Ted Bundy’s mother Louise, who loved her son so much that she refused to believe he was a killer, until a series of death row confessions of 36 murders put the matter beyond doubt. These mums saw the best in their children when others saw them as tyrants and killers.

 

Mums believe in us when others give up on us. Mums always want the best for their kids and grandkids, as I bet every mum in this room does. So let me look at a few positive instances of motherly love and motherly faith.

 

St Augustine’s mother was a godly woman who lived around 350AD. She loved her wayward son, and the young Augustine lived with a girl and had an illegitimate child, then followed this by joining a heretical sect for 9 long years. He refused to listen to her, and she was so distraught she prayed and prayed and God gave her a dream that settled her heart, and then a mother's faith checked in.

 

A short time later Augustine came to Christ, and became one of the most significant church fathers of his generation! He was once lost, but then through a mother's faith he was found.

 

That's the great privilege of being a mother. Your faith is stronger, your love is stronger and God loves the faith of a mother! And He bestows not only faith but wisdom…

 

MUM’S WORDS OF WISDOM

 

My mother had a great deal if trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it… Mark Twain

My mother thinks I'm the best, and I was raised to always believe what my mama tells me… Diego Maradonna

Phyllis Dilla: I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford… then I want to move in with them!

Erma Bombeck: when your mother asks if you want a piece of advice, it's a formality. Whatever you answer, you're going to get it.

One mum said, My kids call it yelling when I raise my voice. I call it motivational speaking for selective listeners.

Another said, My nickname is mum. My real name is mum, mum, mum, mum!

 

Another quote I found which is what you have to put up with as a mum sometimes… Benjamin Spock: there are only 2 things a child will share willingly. Communicable diseases and their mother's age.

 

So that's mother's wisdom, let's zero in now on a mother's faith.

 

A MOTHER’S FAITH

 

Scripture has many examples of faithful mums, mums who made a difference in the lives of their children and even the world in which they lived. Moses’ mum is one example, placing him in the little basket in the bulrushes, then becoming his nanny when Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him. Rahab, whose faith saved her family. Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah even Deborah, who was described as the mother of Israel and led her troops to a great victory over Sisera.

 

But today I want to concentrate on one situation, recorded in Matthew 15, where the faith of a Canaanite woman saved and set her daughter free from demonic oppression.

 

The background to this passage is that Jews hated gentiles, and actually called them dogs! If you think right back to Joshua and Judges, these were the remnant of the evil nations that the conquering Israelites failed to dislodge. Jews considered them lower than a wombat’s basement.

 

Matthew 15:21-28

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

 

Mums, on this your special day, I want to speak directly to you and ask you about your children, your husband, your family and those you care about. We see in this story that the woman had plenty of obstacles, but she stood in the gap for her child. As I share around this passage, take a moment to think about someone you know in your family that isn't walking with the Lord…

 

1.      THIS MOTHER TOOK A CHANCE

 

The Canaanite woman knew the social stigmas. I mean, she knew everything was against her…

 

Certainly her race was against her: She was a Gentile. Her sex was against her, because most Jewish rabbis paid little attention to women. It seemed that the disciples were against her, and even Christ’s words might have led her to believe that even He was against her.

She could have stopped, she could have given up even before she started… oh, it's all too hard!

 

But hey, it was her daughter we're talking about here. She decided not to give up on her child, and should you!

 

And sometimes we look at people we love who are not walking with the Lord and it all seems too hard! They're doing things we don't approve of, they're making bad decisions, they're breaking our hearts. They might even been attacking us or pulling away from us!

 

Listen mums, this mum took a chance, and I want to encourage you to do the same. Sure, our wayward kids may seem distant from you now, they may be ignoring your advice or rebelling, but the faith of a mother is worth much! This mother's faith won the day, so you need to take a chance and trust God!

 

2.      THIS MOTHER ASKED THE QUESTION

 

This mother's faith drove her to ask the question. They may accuse you of being pushy or overbearing, but sometimes asking a simple question can make people think.

Sometimes even just a look will suffice. I remember being caught doing things as a kid, and mum didn't even have to say anything, she'd just look, and I'd know she knew. Mums do that!

Trust me, guys, you can't fool mum. Mother's know, they have wider fields of view and eyes in the back of their heads. They see everything l hear everything and read between the lines well. And trust me. I'm married to a mother who is a psychotherapist, sometimes more psycho that's therapist.

 

So this Canaanite mum asked the question…

Matthew 15:22

And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

 

Speaking to Jesus, she addressed Him as the Lord, the Son of David, a title which only the Jews used in speaking of the Messiah. Although Jesus was the Son of David, a Gentile had no right to approach Him on that basis. That is why He did not answer her at first.

So she had no right to approach, but she did it anyway. And that's the thing: a mother's faith will push through and ask the question, so mums, step up and ask for your wayward children… you'll be surprised at what God wants to do for you!

 

3.      THIS MOTHER SUFFERED ATTACK

 

Listen ladies, if you step out and ask God, expect opposition. You might get it from your kids, you might get it from their dad, their partner, their friends, somebody. You will find your own feelings being attacked, periods when you even doubt that God hears you. It might even come from people in the church who don't believe with you. And just like this mum faced…

Matthew 15:23-24

But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

 

The disciples didn't want her around, and she may have even thought Jesus wanted her gone. But she stayed!

 

When you face attack, react like this mother of faith did! He came and she said…

Matthew 15:25

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

 

And mums, I encourage you to just get real and honest with the Lord this morning. Today is Mother's Day, and I sense the heart of God for faithful mums right now. So get real, get honest and say with all your heart, “Lord help me.” I believe that the prayer of a mother's faithfulness for her kids and grandkids is going to be answered by God.

 

4.      THIS MOTHER’S FAITH WAS TESTED

 

Jesus then decided to probe her faith.

Matthew 15:26

And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”

 

Now it might sound a bit nasty, but in context Jesus wasn't having a shot at her at all. A little but of Hebrew comes in handy here…

You have to remember, she wasn't a Jew, she was a gentile. The Jews looked upon the Gentiles as scavenging dogs, prowling the streets for scraps of food. However, Jesus here doesn't use that particular word when He says dogs. Instead, He used the word for little pet puppies. He didn't call her a rabid street dog or mangy mongrel, He called her a little puppy.

 

The question was, “Would she take offence or acknowledge her unworthiness to receive the least of His mercies?”

 

Mums, don't take offence at anything that say and do, even your own kids. Love them, pray for them, believe for them and claim them for Jesus. I'd rather be offended and see my kids saved than silent and distant!

 

5.      THIS MOTHER PERSISTED

 

This mum’s  reply was not to crawl away and be insulted that Jesus tested her faith, but to press in and persist…

Matthew 15:27

She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”

 

In these few words she was humbling herself for the sake of her daughter. She was persisting and believing because she loved her child and wanted to see her set free.

 

She said, in effect, “You are right! I am only one of the little puppies under the table. But I notice that crumbs sometimes fall from the table to the floor. Won’t You let me have some crumbs? I am not worthy that You should heal my daughter, but I beg You to do it for one of Your undeserving creatures.”

 

Some of you mums here have prayed for years for your kids, and seen little result. Sometimes it seems so discouraging because they never seem to change, even into adulthood. Maybe they're lost in a bad relationship or substance abuse, maybe they are good people but they've crowded God out of their lives and have no time for Him.

 

Your see, you can be a really good person, a super nice guy, but when you die you'll miss going to eternity in heaven and be the nicest guy in hell. How nice you are, how good you are, how generous to charities or your kids you doesn't get you to heaven. The Bible is clear…

 

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

Christian mums here today, you know that, and for many of you this truth leads you to pray for your wayward kids, whether they are successful corporate CEOs or cellar dwelling drug addicts. I want to urge you today to keep praying, to do like this lady did and never give up on your kids, grandkids and even husbands or exes. I can't change them, you can't change them, but God can. You must persist!

 

6.      THIS MOTHER’S FAITH WAS REWARDED

 

And here's the thing. Jesus was so delighted with her persisting, He commended her!

Matthew 15:28

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

 

Jesus commended her for her great faith. While the unbelieving children, the Jews, had no hunger for the bread, here was a self-confessed “doggie” crying out for it. A mother's faith was rewarded; her daughter was healed instantly. Interestingly Jesus never complimented the religious leaders or the disciples like this, only a gentile, despised woman.

 

And that, mums, is my challenge to you today. Whatever you are believing for with your family, partners, children or grandchildren, I believe that today is the day when you can stand and believe, and we want to stand with you.

In a moment, I'm going to ask all the mums to stand and come forward and let us pray for your wayward children, grandchildren or even husbands. Let's join together and believe for God to reward your mother's faith today!

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY… TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT YOU REALLY, REALLY WANT?

 

The Spice girls said it, but I'm saying it today. So tell me what you want, what you really, really want! Today some of you got breakfast in bed, and many of you got presents, cute things, special things, things that are great but will never last. But I know the heart cry of many of you mums is the salvation of your children and grandchildren. That will last forever.

 

You may have been fighting for them in prayer for years, but I'm going to ask you to stand for them, and let us as a church fight together! If you as a mum have a child or grandchild on your heart and you are praying specifically for their salvation, I'm going to ask you to stand, come to the front and our elders will pray and believe with you for the greatest Mother's Day gift of all… your child coming to Christ.

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