Success 1- How to Achieve Success in Life

February 12, 2018

Every single one of us wants to be successful in life. No one starts out life with the dream of becoming a failure. You ask a child what they want to become in their life, they says things like, “I want to be a fireman, a doctor, a pastor, a mother.” No child wants to become a drug addict, a wino, a homeless vagabond or a criminal.


So where do we go wrong as we grow, and how can we achieve lasting success. And by lasting, I mean eternal, not something that blossoms for a few years here in earth then fades to nothing in eternity?




What does success look like to you? It looks different for many people, depending on what they themselves are into. Success for a footballer might be playing for their country or winning a premiership, while success for a musician is having a hit record. A painter wants to sell a painting for megabucks, while a businessman sees success as making money or climbing the corporate ladder.


So what constitutes success for you? Is it having a nice house it? Is it being famous or being praised by your peers? Is it finding the right wife or husband? What does success look like, and what do you actually pray for?


Genesis 24:12 (ESV Strong's)

And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.


Now many people have prayed for success in finding a life partner… some may be doing that right now! But many of us have prayed for success in exams, sports, business or other things in life. We tend tell God what we want to have happen and pray for success, for Him to crown our efforts and bless us with success.




As Christians we often have a confused view of what true success actually is. When surrounded by other people constantly pushing to succeed, people of faith often struggle with the place and pursuit of success. The world tells us what success should look like, but for believers we have a vague notion that this isn’t real success and that God has a better plan, right?


Some believe material success always represents a compromise of spiritual convictions. Others feel success signals that God is pleased with them. I believe that neither of these extremes are necessarily true.


Still other Christians say they are not interested in success, and many use their lack of striving for success as  an excuse for poor performance in key areas of life. If we cease to strive for success, we often satisfy ourselves with a second rate performance.


The issue is not whether we as believers should strive for success, because every one of us would agree that God deserves our best, but the real issue revolves around the question of what success really is.


The issue of success is complex and charged with emotion. But these observations may prove helpful:





True success is defined by God, not by man and what people tell us constitutes success.  We often pray for God to prosper us, and it is His desire to prosper us to success as defined by Him.


3 John 1:2 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.


3 John 1:2 (KJV)

Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.


So God wants us to prosper, in health and every way, but above all He wants our souls to prosper, clearly a different measure of success than the world offers!


Worldly success, the success that we are constantly told to strive for, implies striving to meet a set of standards established by a person or group. Those standards may be false or true, but I would suggest that they do not constitute true success. For the Christian, only God can define true success! Consider these people…


Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Janice Joplin, Heath Ledger, Robin Williams, Amy Winehouse, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ernest Hemingway … so many have achieved incredible success in their field of music, writing or acting, they were famous, they were rich, but found that when they achieved the success for which they strived for,  the result was an emptiness inside, and they took their own lives.


Mark 8:36 (ESV Strong's)

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





Obtaining success always involves a cost. It requires time, ability, and resources that may have been better invested in other areas. For example working long hours may bring a temporary promotion but you might lose the joy of working, lose your relationship with your spouse or weaken relationships with Christians who keep you joyful and accountable.


What good is it to work hard getting a business off the ground only to find that you lose your family because you are never home?


Then again, sometimes investing long hours in a job may be exactly God’s plan for this particular season and this job. We cannot sit back and hope that success will roll on down the line to us. Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”


So any success takes effort..

 Your job is to invest the effort where it achieves long lasting, eternal and true success.


Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.


Everything worthwhile costs something. As Gordon Hinkley said, “Without hard work nothing grows but weeds.”


It costs you time and commitment to come to church, to do the Bible reading plan, to attend a connect group, but they are great steps towards success in your relationship with God. Don’t invest time, money and effort in a short term gain… play the long games for eternity!




The pursuit of success is made or denied by each person. No one can make someone else pursue success. You might say you want success in a particular area, but I can’t make you pursue it, only you can.


I have seen Christians pursue all kinds of things, some good, some bad, some important, some just a complete waste of time. So which successes are wise to pursue, and which are foolish to pursue?


Joshua 24:15 (ESV Strong's)

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


The pursuit of success is a choice… your way, or God’s way?


As we pursue success—and as we choose what success to pursue—we can ask three questions:


  1. Who determines what success means for me? You, your parents, your family, your church… or God?
  2. What am I choosing by pursing this particular success? Am I choosing the eternal or something temporary?
  3. What should I, and should I not, invest to achieve this success?




Luke 5 tells the familiar story of a time where Peter and his fishing partners, James and John, went fishing and caught nothing. This is an interesting story of both failure and success in the life of Peter, a man we can all relate to with real triumphs and also real failures in his life. 


The thing that turned his failure into success is really quite simple. I mean, he had fished all night and caught zip! This is roughly the equivalent of my fishing prowess.  But when Jesus came on board his little boat, things took a dramatic turn.


Jesus gave specific instructions that a somewhat reluctant Peter followed. 


Luke 5:4-7 (ESV Strong's)

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.


Now Peter and the boys had been fishing, they had been doing what was their calling, their skill. They had been striving for success as they understood it, for prosperity in fish. They had chosen what to pursue, you could argue it was their God given mandate as fishermen, and they had certainly toiled and worked hard.



Peter’s problem up to this point, which had caused him to have empty nets, was that he was engaged in undirected service. In other words, God had not told him to do what he was doing, he had just assumed that if he worked hard God would bless his efforts.


But there was no lasting fruit. There were no great results. There was no success, not because he was sinning or out of God’s will.  He was working and getting nowhere, spinning his wheels trying to get success, and the result was that he had toiled all night and caught nothing.


Like Peter, maybe you know what it’s like to try and do something for God, only to end up failing.  Hopefully, the principles we’ll be looking at over the next several weeks will help you discover where you went wrong, and help you to really attain success in the areas that matter.




I must confess, I am pretty dopey at times when it comes to situations like this.  Instead of pausing to reevaluate, I just knuckle down and keep plowing ahead, hoping against hope that things will get better, often finding I dig myself further into the mire rather than out of it! Is anyone else like that? Sometimes I think if brains were dynamite I would struggle to blow my nose!


How often we have begun a work for God that bears no fruit, because we have not really been directed by Him… but we’ve chosen what we think God wants and told Him to bless it? How often we have entered into a business deal or a relationship that is a disaster, because we failed to consult with the Lord. And even then, we don’t ask a Him or pull out, we ignore Him and keep plowing on!


If we are smart, we will learn to fail forward—which means that we will learn from the mistakes we have made and hopefully not make them again.


I’m sure that, looking back on the fishing expedition, Peter could quickly see that while the job he did was not bad or evil, he was outside of the will of God. He was not being directed by God. And when he finally obeyed, when he reluctantly did as God told and directed him, he saw the success he longed for.


And I believe many times in our lives, we miss what God wants to do, because we don’t take the first step. We don’t ask God, we tell God what we want to do and demand He bless us. And if we do ask, we often don’t listen and obey.


Proverbs 16:9 (ESV Strong's)

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.


If you want God to tell you His agenda for your life for the next month or the next year, you’re not going to get it. God establishes our steps one at a time. He wants you to obey Him and take the first step He has already shown you. Why should He roll out His plans for your life when you won’t even obey the first step, or the next step?


Many times we don’t see what it is God wants to do in our lives.  We just say, “I don’t want to do that”, or “thanks God, I can take it from here!” So we end up missing out. God wants to do something great in your life. He wants to do a miracle, He wants to move you into unbelievable success, eternal success in your life, but you have to obey.


If we live our lives God’s way and in God’s timing, our nets will be breaking, just as Peter’s net was, because it is directed service. How often have we wasted days, months, years, or even a lifetime pursuing things that are not the will of God for us.



Success, you see, true, lasting, eternal success, depends on you simply yielding to God, giving your life totally to Him and asking Him onto your boat—or into your life. But it also depends on you being obedient and allowing Him to be in control. There are many choices in life, and many of the choices are good. But you don’t want good choices, you want God choices.  This makes all the difference in the world. Same for the church… we don’t want good choices, we want God choices!




This week I attended the funeral of a lovely young lady called Ruth. She has gone to be with the Lord, and I can tell you there is nothing so sobering as sitting in front of a coffin and contemplating your own mortality. Ruth’s short life of only 32 years was a life well led, and much loved. Likely you will get a lot longer than she had, so what will you do with the time you are given on earth. What will they say on your gravestone with all the years you’ve been given?


Hebrews 9:27 (ESV Strong's)

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,


We all, you and I, have an appointment with death. God may call us home in 40 years time, or perhaps much sooner than that. You don’t get another life, you don’t get a rewind button, you cannot unscramble the egg that is your life, your choices, your successes and your failures.


Statisticians tell us that 3 people die every second, 180 every minute, and 11,000 every hour. That means that every day 250,000 people enter into eternity.


So what will they write on your gravestone? Will they write that you were a great businessman, or a great mum? What success will you be remembered by?


More importantly, how does God see your successes and failures? If this is the only life you get on earth, how can you make it a success for eternity, a success in God’s eyes? Someone one said, “Only one life, twill soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”




So what is the success you strive for in your life? Many people simply don’t strive for any success at all, but are content to just float along, wasting the gifts God has given them. I don’t know about you, but I want more than that! I want to serve Jesus with all of my life, because that is fruit that lasts.


Many people are just treading water in their life. They are merely marking time, instead of enjoying real success in their lives. Their favourite day of the week is “someday.” Someday my ship will come in. Someday my prince (or princess) will come. Someday it’s all going to get better. Someday my life will change. Someday, when I’m financially set up, I will start serving the Lord. In a recent study ninety-four percent of the people surveyed said they were simply enduring the present, while “waiting for something better to happen.”


But here’s what people don’t plan on. They don’t plan on death. And they never envision it coming around the corner unexpectedly. When you’re young you tell yourself, “I don’t have to even think about that for another fifty or sixty years.” And that may true, or it may not be true. But death knocks at every door.


In this series on success, I want to shake us all out of our comfortable existences and open out eyes to the greatness of what God has called us to be, not just for ourselves, but for our families, our church, our community and our nation. I don’t care how successful you are in business, in your job, in the stock market or realestate or bitcoin. That stuff fades, falls, and I want to challenge you today to lift your eyes and focus on the Lord, and do what He calls you to do. I challenge you to take your eyes off worldly success and focus, even strain and strive towards eternal goals, the true success God has for you…


Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

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.


Most of us are afraid of dying, but many of us are also afraid of living. Afraid of trusting God, afraid that His success may not equate with success that we want. Paul earlier said this…


Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ


Paul laid all his earthly success aside, the fame, the fortune, the learning, the earning, the prestige… everything, and he saw that true success is what we do for the Lord.


You have one life. You can waste it, you can invest it in something that ultimately doesn’t matter, you can put the nets out and order God to bless your efforts, or you can ask God what He wants to do with your life.


Question: What is the success you are striving for in your life?  Is it what God wants for you? Does it really matter in eternity?


Now give it , whatever it is, to God right now.


Responding to Islam- Kevin Davis

February 6, 2018

Kevin Davis shares an exciting and topical presentation on how we as Christians should be responding to Islam.  He reveals some of the historical background of Islam, and how the Koran points to the person of Jesus Christ.  He encourages us to love and pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters all around the world so that we can make a difference, and he shares exciting and up to date information on how the Spirit is moving among Islamic populations across the world drawing them to Jesus.  Incredibly insightful and topical, and a must for every believer who loves the Lord and wants to see the world won fro Christ!


For Such a Time as This- Melva Kajewski

February 6, 2018

Melva shares her heart and challenges us to stand firm in these dark days.  We live in days that seem darker than ever before, especially with the types of moral decisions our country is making, but Melva suggests that we are here, placed in this nation, for such a time as this!


Traditions- Slaying the Holy Cow

January 22, 2018

A mother was preparing a pot roast for her family’s Easter meal while her young daughter helped. Knowing her daughter was very curious, the mother explained each step. As she was preparing to put the pot roast in the oven, the mother explained, “Now we cut the ends off of each side of the meat.” As young children often do, the daughter asked, “Why?” The mother thought for a moment and replied, “Because that’s the way it’s done. That’s how your grandma did it and that’s how I do it.”

Not satisfied with this answer, the young girl asked if she could call her grandma. The young girl called and asked, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends off the pot roast?” Her grandma thought for a moment and said, “Because that’s the way it’s done. That’s how my mom did it and that’s how I do it.”

Still not satisfied, the young girl called her great grandma, who was now living in a nursing home. “Great grandma,” she said, “Why do you cut the ends off the pot roast?” Her great grandma said, “When I was a young mother, we had a very small oven. The pot roast wouldn’t fit in the oven if I didn’t cut the ends off.”

Everyone loves tradition, including me, and including God. God set up many traditions in the Old Testament to remind people of what He had said and done, and Jesus instigated traditions like communion in His day. 


Tradition is all around us. I remember laying a wreath at the Canberra war memorial in honour of my grandfather. They played the last post, we had careful instructions on how to walk, how to place the wreath. It was all very vivid and special to me, and the tradition made it all the more powerful and memorable.


Go to the RSL, support a football club or watch cricket… tradition is all around us and loved by most of us.


In cricket for example, we have just defeated the English in the Ashes series. We compete for a tiny cup within which lie the ashes. This came about after Australia’s first win in a test match in England at the Oval 1882, when a newspaper jokingly lamented the death of English cricket. The mock obituary stated that English cricket had died, and "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". They burned the bails, put them in a tiny container, and that is what Aussie and English cricketers have competed over for more than 130 years!


So much tradition in sport, in parliament, law courts, schools, in families and especially in the Church! People love tradition, it brings them together, it feeds nostalgia.  People talk about the good old days, do you remember them? I don’t think they were that good, but we always remember the good bits, not the bad.


Tradition is definitely a part of church life, but increasingly those who oppose God sometimes want the traditions, without the God.


Fiona’s brother and his wife just had something recently called a naming ceremony, which honestly is a baby dedication in every way without having God! Same sex marriage is the same. Gay couples had all the legal rights of union, but strangely they want to have an actual wedding and be called married. Why? Because people love traditions. Traditions bring stability, strength and honour.





Tradition is one of the holy cows of all religions, including Christianity. We gain strength and solidarity in traditions, but even in the Church today, much of what we do is not Biblical it is tradition.


Please do not misunderstand… I am not against tradition, I love it! Many of our traditions are good, and positive, but sometimes tradition grows in importance and actually eclipses what God says! We must make a clear distinction between what we do in the name of tradition and what we do in obedience to Christ.


Jesus met the issue of traditional religion head on in Mark 7, where a special delegation of legal experts came to challenge Jesus. They challenged Jesus because His disciples seemed to be breaking the time honoured rules of the Sabbath and ritual cleaning


Mark 7:5-9 (ESV Strong's)

And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!




The issue in question here was not Scripture, but what was known as the tradition of the elders. These were rules created by Jewish leaders and were human traditions which often superseded God’s revealed Word.


So what did these rules involve, and what effect did they have? Let me offer a few samples…


The Mishnah, a compilation of Jewish oral laws made at the end of the second century A.D., says, "Tradition is a fence around the law." Tradition, as the Jews saw it, protected God's Holy Word and assisted God’s people in keeping it.


This fencing of the Law probably began well enough, but as the years passed it produced some famous absurdities. For example, in an effort to protect the Sabbath from being broken through inadvertent labor, the devout were given an amazing list of prohibitions —fences. For example, looking in the mirror was forbidden, because if you looked into the mirror on the Sabbath day and saw a gray hair, you might be tempted to pull it out and thus perform work on the Sabbath.


You also could not wear your false teeth; if they fell out, you would have to pick them up and you would be working. In regard to carrying a burden, you could not carry a handkerchief on the Sabbath, but you could wear a handkerchief. That meant if you were upstairs and wanted to take the handkerchief downstairs, you would have to tie it around your neck, walk downstairs, and untie it. Then you could blow your nose downstairs!


The rabbis debated about a man with a wooden leg: if his home caught on fire, could he carry his wooden leg out of the house on the Sabbath? One could spit on the Sabbath, but you had to be careful where. If it landed on the dirt and you scuffed it with your sandal, you would be cultivating the soil and thus performing work.


For many in Jesus’ day, ritual replaced a relationship with God; reputation was more important than godliness. Jesus labeled these attitudes as hypocrisy. Our spiritual growth can succeed only if we are willing to have our hearts and outward actions changed according to God’s Word, not man’s bright ideas.





Before we start feeling too pious, let’s pause to remember that we all have traditions in Church and worship. Yes, even in Ignite, we have traditions. We share communion every week, that’s a tradition. Some of us dressing nice for Church. We start with worship the same way every week… tradition again! These may be good, some perhaps not so good, and none of them seem as absurd as the Mishnah traditions.


I’ve often heard people in Pentecostal churches refer to another churches as “traditional”, but don’t be fooled, we Pentecostals are as traditional as they are, just in different ways. They have responsive readings, we pray in a certain way. We dunk, they sprinkle. We raise our hands, they do not… both are traditions.



Colossians 2:8 (ESV Strong's)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.


The Greek word for tradition is Paradosis, which is the same as used by Jesus with the Pharisees.


And while many traditions are comforting and can be helpful, some can also take us captive and steer us away from God! Traditions are fine, but they are hollow, devoid of any teal life. What sustains us in our hour of need is not traditions but the power of God, the Word of God and the Spirit of God! So we must be on guard!





Church traditions can point us to Christ, or steer us away from Jesus. Most of us enjoy communion every week, but do we let it grow stale and “same ol, same ol”? The problem many times is often not so much in the tradition itself, but in our attitude to it.


All around us, people are in churches where they feel obligated to stay but are slowly dying. Some have loads of ritual, but zero relationship. Some have lots liturgies but no life. Some provide entertainment but no encounter. Many older denominations are steeped in religious traditions that have nothing to do with God, and are impossible to find in His Word. And let’s face it, some of our modern churches have the same, just in a modern guise!


And this is the point… religious traditions can be good, bad or just plain ugly. How do we know the difference? How can we figure out and embrace good traditions and reject the bad? The only standard we can have is the Word of God.


But not everything is specifically addressed in the Bible. However, principles are in the Bible. The Bible does not say, “Thou must not take drugs,” but in many places it talks of self control in places like Galatians 5, which is clearly affected by drug taking. It doesn’t specifically mention smoking, cyberporn, cell phones or Facebook, rock music, styles of worship, etc. but clearly lays out behaviour that applies to these modern phenomenon.


It should be the same in Church. We can embrace traditions, sure, but only those that align with God’s Word.  And some church traditions are clearly human in origin. Nowhere does it say that priests must be celibate, that’s a human tradition. Nowhere does it say you cannot eat meat on Friday. Nowhere does it say you have to sing certain songs or do certain rituals.  Nowhere does it command us to make the sign of the cross, or use bells and smells when we worship. These human traditions were originally brought in by well meaning men for noble reasons, but let’s be clear, they are not God’s Word!


Titus 1:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.


The thing is man made traditions in religions were designed to remind us of God, but ultimately man made traditions do not set us free, they binds us, fences us in and controls us. Many times people choose religion instead of God, and however noble the intent of the religious tradition. I recently saw a program on notorious drug dealer Pablo Escobar, who murdered, extorted, exploited and fornicated his way through life, but still worshipped at a Catholic Church, went to confession and made the sign of the cross.


2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV Strong's)

For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.


Religion and human tradition, as good as it might be, in the end kills rather than brings life if it is not based on the Word of God and directed by the Holy Spirit.


And Religious tradition often has a sinister spirit behind it, one of control and superiority. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mark and pull back the curtain and see what is really behind not all but some man made traditions...




Religion makes you feel pious, superior and better than the next person.  We think we are the best, our denomination has it right and everybody else is wrong. God calls this pride!


The ritualistic washings the Jewish leaders talked about in Mark 7 gave them a sense of being  “special”, and that other people were “unclean”! If a Jew went to the marketplace to buy food, he might be “defiled” by a Gentile or (God forbid!) a Samaritan. This tradition had begun centuries before to remind the Jews that they were God’s elect people and therefore had to keep themselves morally clean and separated. However, this good reminder had gradually degenerated into an empty ritual, a set of holier than Thou rules and the result was pride and religious isolation.


And listen, we can be just as superior. I cannot tell you how many good Pentecostal people have smugly told me that others are “not Spirit filled” as if they are inferior. Being filled with the Spirit of God is a joy and a blessing, it can be a powerhouse for your spiritual life, but it is not a higher rank than another believer. At Ignite Christian Church, we value unity and love for one another above any specific gift.  That’s why when Paul talked about tongues and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, he placed the great love chapter right in the middle. Why? He said he wants us all to exercise the gifts, but we need to love one another more than we love the making others do what we want.


That being said, do I want us all to be filled with the Spirit? Absolutely! I want us all on fire for Christ, I desire to see every person ignited with a passion for Jesus that consumes them. But as your pastor, I’m not here to be superior, and I refuse to force you to do something that you are not comfortable with.. I am here to serve!


Luke 18:10-14 (ESV Strong's)

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


Religion makes us feel superior, but Jesus calls us to be servants.




The second thing tradition can do is be used to manipulate. In the passage we started with in Mark 7, Jesus Himself sites a specific example of how people can use religious traditions to control and manipulate for their own ends.


Mark 7:9-13 (ESV Strong's)

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”


The situation is that the fifth commandment of the law stating you should honour and care for your parents in their age. These religious leaders saw a loophole that trumped caring for your ailing parents.  If you “dedicated” your money to God, you could hang onto it and not give towards your parents care.


Tradition manipulates the situation, in much the same way as Jehovah’s Witnesses use religious tradition and control in teaching their people that they have to witness door to door to get to heaven… they have no assurance of salvation like we do, but the sect gets an endless stream of workers going door to door!


I have seen pastors in our churches using religious tradition to manipulate and control people, to force them to do what the leader wants. This is not leadership, this is abuse, and Jesus got real mad about this kind of religious abuse! Again, traditions are great but they must not be a tool for control or superiority.




People love traditions, and we in the Church do also. They remind us of great truths or great blessings. But Jesus addressed the Pharisees about this because they were substituting traditions of men for the Word of God. A tradition may actually be good and may be established for a very good reason. However, it crosses the line and becomes evil when it is a substitute for the Word of God in later generations. And that is what has happened to these people here.


Anything we establish that is not according to God’s Word is going to become destructive and controlling. And you can see this in many denominations today, some of which started great and have dropped away to become a shell.


Every move of God comes in 4 stages. A man, a movement, a machine and a monument.


It starts with a man, a dynamic man who has a dynamic, God given vision. Look at John Wesley and Methodism, William Booth and the Salvation Army. Look at Amy Semple McPherson and the Four Square movement. Great men and woman, great power, and great anointing.


This then gives rise to a movement, and the denomination gains influence and grows in numbers. But after some time, maybe a generation or two, people are just going through the motions. It becomes a machine, still big and influential, but it’s lost its edge, it’s lost its Holy Spirit power. It’s lost its specific calling and anointing.


It finishes up a monument to past glories. Man, movement, machine, monument. Where are we?


In our Bible reading this week in Mark 11, Jesus cursed the fig tree which was in bloom. Why? Is it because he doesn’t like figs? No, it was a comment in the Pharisees and the religious traditions of the day. He was saying, “you look the part, you look and act religious, but there is no fruit!” Let this be a warning to us. It is not our religion, not our tradition, not our gifts or Bible scholarship that impresses Christ. It is the fruit of the Spirit that He is looking for.




Told you I would slay a few holy cows this morning!


Many of you here have come from different churches with different traditions, and I love that you’ve found a home here. Many have only ever know Pentecostalism, and I love that you have accepted and embraced those who think slightly differently to you.


We face a choice this morning, and interestingly this is the same choice that the people of Israel faced Millenia ago…


Exodus 20:18-21 (ESV Strong's)

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.


The people had a unique opportunity, to establish an intimate and special relationship with God, one where He would talk directly to them. But they were afraid, they feared God and were fearful of what He might ask them to do. So they told Moses to go and talk to God for them, then relay the message to them, while they stood afar off, distant from God.


I think we can all agree that human tradition is no substitute for the Word of God, right?




God wants relationship, not religion. He doesn’t want tradition, He wants to touch you. But some of us, because we are scared, because we are comfortable with certain traditions, we choose law over love, and religion over relationship.


But today, I believe that God is asking us to choose Him, and take a chance on a God who loves you. Let us never choose anything, any belief, any tradition over a close relationship with the Lord. I love most of our traditions, but I refuse to let whether you speak in tongues or not, whether you prophesy or not, whether you like hymns or like popular songs, whether you’ve been baptised in water or baptised in the Spirit, I refuse to let that stand between us!


Unity is where the Lord bestows blessing, and God has called Ignite to be a church of unity! We must be one in the Spirit, and while we may not see eye to eye, we can still walk hand in hand and arm in arm.


2 Timothy 2:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,


Church, we stand on the brink of something Mighty here at Ignite. God is unrolling, unfurling a vision before me that is the most exciting I have ever been a part of. And you are a part of it too! So let us agree to set aside the things that separate, even if you think you are right, and let us agree to love first and foremost. Let us agree that our standard is simply the Bible. If it’s in here, it’s in. If it’s not, it’s not!


But ultimately we face the same decision the people of Israel faced… rules or relationship. This is why I continue to remind you of the Bible reading plan. I’m not trying to control you, but if you read this every day, just 2 chapters a day, then you will grow your relationship. If not this plan, do another, but will you covenant with me to endeavour to read His Word and pray every day? Tun off Facebook, click the TV off and read or listen to 2 chapters a day. Then you will discover life abundantly, a greater life in God than you have ever experienced, and all the things you need will be added to you.


Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.





Speaking Life- Ps Greg Biddell

January 16, 2018

Speaking life into your heart and your situation is the subject of this excellent and inspiring message from pastor Greg Biddell.


Greg and Sue have been in ministry since 1966 and have served as missionaries, pastors and teachers.  They now travel extensively throughout Australia as itinerant ministers. To read more information about Greg and Sue and their ministry, please go to the About Us tab on the tool bar above.

Our desire is to teach the Word of God in a practical way, to help you be victorious, live in health and receive the blessings of God for your family, church and business life.

Greg has written and published over thirty five BooksCD's and Charts, which can be viewed on our Products page or from the navigation bar on the left.  These are great resources which will inspire you to move deeper into God's Word.

So if you are keen to be speaking life into all the situations you face, rather than words of death, then listen to Greg's message now...


Total Surrender

January 8, 2018

As we face a New Year, we wonder what is in store for us. Is this going to be a good year, or a tough one? Am I going to go ahead with the potential in my life, or fall away? Is it going to be the same as last year and the year before?


I believe that this is a pivotal year for Ignite Christian Church, and for each of you personally. I was recently criticised by a visitor for preaching too hard on righteousness, but I make no apology for this. I’m not here to play games or tickle ears, I’m here to encourage but also to challenge you. My vision for you is not to see you cruise through life and just exist, rather it is to see you thrive in the things of God and to inspire you in 2018 to become all that God has destined you to be.


I have sought the Lord asking for a key verse for this year, and I believe He has given us


Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong's)

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


In 2018, Ignite Church is the light on a hill, and we are called to shine boldly and brightly in this dark world. Another verse our leadership have received several times is this one…


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

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

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

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


So it is time to stop looking back, however good, however tough, and start looking ahead to what the Lord has destined for us!


As we face this New Year, what  can make a difference in Ignite and also in us as individuals?




One of our greatest needs as human beings is to know that we are loved. Each one of us here has to feel certain, deep down in our hearts, that someone loves us, cares for us, and has our best interests at heart.


The need to be loved is at the centre of most human relationships.  Men and women getting married, having families, having affairs, giving presents at Christmas, bringing up children, playing sport, joining clubs, joining Church, signing up to RSVP… all of us want to be loved in some way. And all of us need to know that somebody loves us.


That is how God designed us. He wants us to know that He loves each and every one of us with a passionate intensity too deep for words.


Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.


God created human beings with fellowship in mind—first with Himself and then with others. But we cannot fully love one another until we have ourselves experienced the love of God. We experience His love when we willingly surrender to His call to be our Saviour, Lord, and Friend.


2018 is the year to get intimate with God.  It is the year to totally surrender to Him!




The fact is, many of us cannot hear God with any degree of accuracy or confidence. Lots of Christians say, “God told me this or that,” but how can they know? Very often Christians preface what is actually their opinion with the phrase, “God told me…” because they know that we can have no come back if it were true. That’s not often God, that’s often manipulation!


Of all the people who say, “God told me to tell you this” over the past year, barely a handful would genuinely be God.  Many good people tell me that they are never sure if the Lord is speaking to them, if at all.


So this year, how can you foster an attitude and a lifestyle that enables the Lord to speak to you intimately as He promised He will? Do you have to be a crazy nutcase to hear God, and is the only other alternative being as spiritually deaf as a post?


Of course not! Hearing God should be a natural part of every Christian’s relationship with the Lord. You shouldn’t be weird or over the top strange to have to hear God, and my experience is that most of the odd people are not really hearing God clearly anyway.


But neither should you be spiritually hard of hearing. Religious people in church, even back in Jesus’ day, never had a great track record of listening to God, that why Jesus quoted Isaiah in saying,

Matthew 13:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Now, I want to give you one word that can transform your year. One word that will open your eyes to what God wants you to see, one word that will open your spiritual ears to hear Him. One word that, if you truly embraced it and acted upon it, will take the life that you live right now and morph it into the life you’ve dreamed of, the powerful, Spirit filled life your Father has destined you to live…




Charles Stanley writes, “Our intimacy with God determines the impact of our lives.”


Surrender is defined as, “To yield to the power, control or possession of another.” (Miriam Webster’s Dictionary)

Romans 12:1 (ESV Strong's)

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

The Greek word for present is paristemi which means to yield or surrender.


When I think of surrender, I always think of soldiers with their hands above their heads, yielding to the power of their conquerors. Now, when a soldier surrenders there is much fear. They have been fighting against the enemy, killing and destroying, and so to yield or surrender means they place their life into their enemy’s control, with no guarantees of survival or humane  treatment. They take a chance, and their life hangs in the balance.


But not so when we surrender to Christ. We yield to Christ with the knowledge that He will never leave nor forsake us.

Psalms 9:10 (ESV Strong's)

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

There are at least three reasons God seeks our surrender:




God loves us and desires our fellowship and worship. If we hold something back from God, if we refuse to draw close to Him by surrendering our lives to Him, we cannot know Him completely or fully experience His love.

James 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

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.


When we surrender to Him, when we yield our lives to Him, we get all of Him. When we decide to move close to the Lord, when we start to seek Him with all our hearts, He moves closer to us.




God wants our service for Him to be effective and fruitful.


The more we know and love Jesus, the more effective our service will be, and the more He will grow our ministry. The closer we draw to God, the more impact our lives will have. The more energetically we nurture our relationship with the Lord, the greater the positive mark we will leave behind.

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.


 Surrendering to God means more effective service, and this is what I mean by surrendering to God grows your ministry.




God waits for the freedom to bless us.


Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV Strong's)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.


Note verse 13, seeking God with all your heart. This is surrendering to Him.


God is omnipotent, He is all powerful and can do anything, but He will not violate His own principles. He draws us to Himself so we can experience His love and forgiveness. He asks for our willing surrender so that He can give us the best blessings He has to offer.


We are sometimes like a young child watching TV. Their parent comes and wants to take them to the zoo, but they resist because they are content just watching TV, not knowing the wonderful experience awaiting them!




It is in your interests to surrender to God today at the start of this year! But we resist, don’t we? Why do we want to join the resistance instead of surrendering to someone whose expressed desire is to bless us not to harm us?


With all the blessings God has clearly in mind for us, why does anyone resist surrendering to God?


1.      PRIDE


Pride is the key reason most people resist surrender.


I remember Kira learning to tie her shoelaces, saying, “I do it mine self” and making us all late!


People think they know better than God and that they can handle their lives better than He can, so they keep Him at a distance.  Which is ironic, given the mess most of our lives finish up in, isn’t it?

Proverbs 18:12 (ESV Strong's)

Before destruction a man's heart is haughty (prideful), but humility comes before honor.

God wants us to put our trust in him.

We insult God when we trust in our own resources, or anything else, to deliver us from our problems. When we surrender our lives to God, we become his own chosen ones. He promises to hear us when we call out to him.


2.      FEAR


Others do not surrender because they fear what God will do (or not do) for them. They think that if they give God control, He’ll make them do exactly what will make them most miserable.


Many apparently can trust God to give them heaven, but cannot trust Him enough to give them heaven on earth in a life of fulfilment and joy.



Fear of the Lord is a great thing. Fear of the future is not. Can your trust in God exceed your fear for the future?

Proverbs 29:25 (ESV Strong's)

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.


We often treat God like a man, thinking He is out to punish us, or make us suffer, or make us do things we hate just to show us who is boss. God is not like that, so stop tarring Him with the same brush as you would a leader, pastor or politician.

John 14:27 (ESV Strong's)

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


3.      UNBELIEF


Still others refuse to surrender to Christ because they believe Satan’s lie, which tells them that God is judgmental and will punish them for their mistakes.


Jesus says this about Satan…

John 8:44 (ESV Strong's)

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.


Don’t let your pride, fear or unbelief stop you from fully surrendering to the Lord




God always has our best in mind. He will refuse us no good thing when we gladly submit to His will. He tells us, “‘I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

Romans 8:31-32 (ESV Strong's)

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?


When we fully surrender to Him, He will withhold no good thing. Of course, we will still face trials of many kinds, but He will graciously help us triumph over them, and use the trials to build character and wisdom into our lives.


It only makes sense to surrender to God, because when we do, we grow close to Him—which is His highest priority for us—and we begin to have an impact on our world.


And right now, at the start of the New Year is the perfect time to fully surrender to Him and allow Him to fulfil our destiny!


I have to do this every day.  I constantly have to fully surrender my life to Christ. In my life I have trusted many things, from my own talents and abilities to my profession to financial advisors.


When I fully surrender to Christ, when I fully trust Him for my provision, my future, my reputation and my blessings, that is when He can truly work in my behalf. Whatever I have to face, if I can face them with Jesus, I will be content!




Is this the cry of your heart? Do you want to know the Savior and live in the fullness of His blessing each day? You can. David wrote,

Psalms 34:10 (ESV Strong's)

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Young lions try their best, but they are young, strong and headstrong. This year, are you resolved to work harder, try harder, do your best more often, or are you ready to surrender and give it all to Jesus?


If you boarded a flight to Sydney from our local airport, and the pilot was just 1 degree to the east off, you would land 17 km out to sea! The only way the pilot can cause you to arrive at your destination is to constantly realign the direction of the plane.


At the start of this year, we need realignment. We constantly need realignment. We need to be totally surrendering daily to God, and we can start right now.


If you have drifted in your devotion to the Savior last year and feel as though you grow more distant each day in your relationship with Him, then pray that He will draw you near once more. He knows your weaknesses, and if you will tell Him that you want Him to take control of your life, He will come to you in a mighty way and bring hope and light to your situation, no matter how dark and hopeless it may feel…

Isaiah 55:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.




Charles Blondin, the great French tightrope Walker, became famous in 1860 for walking across a quarter of a mile of tightrope stretched 160 feet above Niagara Falls. He performed the feat many times in a variety of death defying ways, including on stilts, on a bicycle and blindfolded. He even carried a small stove and eggs across, and stopped halfway to cook an omelet!


Then he took a wheelbarrow across the falls, and asked the huge crowd if they believed he could carry a man in the wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls. They enthusiastically replied, “Yes, you’re the greatest tightrope walker in the world.”


“Ok!” He replied, “Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow?”

James 2:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

You’ve heard me call for total surrender this morning, and you can sit and applaud my fully committed heart. But today, I’m asking you to get into the wheelbarrow, I’m asking you to respond by not just listening, not just agreeing, not just thinking or resolving, but by stepping out and doing…


William Booth said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”


How great do you want to be in this coming year? How surrendered are you prepared to be?


New Year’s Eve 2018… Rise and Shine

January 2, 2018

Glen Cook once said, “Morning is wonderful…it’s only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.”


I don’t know about you, but I like sleep, and never seem to get enough of it.  And when you are asleep, waking up is often one of the hardest things to do.


My dad used to get up with the sparrows and start singing loudly, calling us to rise and shine. So Church, on the brink of a New Year, I believe 2018 is time for us to wake up, rise and shine.





Billy Graham once said, “We are to wait for the coming of Christ with patience. We are to watch with anticipation. We are to work with zeal. We are to prepare with urgency.” 


Paul put it this way…


Romans 13:11-14 (ESV Strong's)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.



Warne Wiersbe summarised today’s passage in this way… “Wake up, clean up and grow up.” As we approach 2018, I believe we are in for one of the most challenging years yet, but it will also provide some of the greatest opportunities we have ever seen in this nation to shine for Jesus. For decades the church has been barely noticeable in our society, and now they notice us and they hate us and brand us bigots and prejudicial hypocrites. So let’s see how we can turn the lemons of the end of 2017 into the lemonade of joy and achievement in 2018.




Romans 13:11 (ESV Strong's)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.


Like teenagers sleeping in, the church has been asleep in this nation for decades. We’ve looked like the world, tried to sound like the world and in most ways been indistinguishable from the rest of the world. But now suddenly in 2018, following the government legislating same sex marriage, we now have the chance to wake up and look different to the rest of the world.


Jesus is coming back soon, I am more convinced than ever. Jesus describes the end times in Matthew as times of war, times of famine and pestilence. Then He says this…


Matthew 24:9-13 (ESV Strong's)

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.


Then Jesus equates the end times with two other period in history, both of which were followed by severe judgement…


Luke 17:26-29 (ESV Strong's)

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—


Our society is facing imminent judgement for our wickedness and depravity. And while some Christians are content to float along and condone this wickedness, I believe 2018 is time to wake up and make a stand for what is true and noble and right!



A priest and pastor were standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that read, "The End is near! Turn around before it's too late!"

One speeding motorist yelled out his window, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” as he flew by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.

“Do you think," said one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says ‘Bridge Out’ instead?”

We as a church need to get the message right. The message is not that we hate homosexuals. The message is not that we want to ostracise ourselves from them. The message is not even that we don’t want homosexuals to have a fair go!


The message is that Jesus loves people, and He died for them.  Yet He is a holy God. We must stand for the righteousness the Bible peaches, but we must also love those who persecute us, and never before have we had the opportunity to do this like we face in 2018.


Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV Strong's)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.


In 2018 it is time to wake up and love people, even those we disagree with. And that is my stand with regards homosexuals and transgenders… I do not, cannot and will not agree with your behaviour, but I love you and accept you and will treat you with respect. We will never win them if we do not love them, but loving them does not mean compromising what the Bible clearly teaches is sin.


They tell us that if we love them we will agree with their behaviour. That’s not true. We can say, “I love you so much, that I cannot let ultimately destructive behaviour slip quietly by. I love you so much I’m going to share the truth with you, even if you hate me for it!”




Romans 13:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy.


We need to wake up in 2018, but we also need to clean up. Not just wake up to the threats and challenges in our society, we must also clean ourselves up. If Ignite is to reach its full potential this year, it’s is up to us to be clean, Holy, pure, and to not harbour any sin in our lives.


While most of us will not be involved in orgies, drunkenness and sexual immorality, we will be sorely tempted in areas like quarrelling and jealousy.


1 Peter 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

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


If God is going to use us in 2018, we need to be careful about how we behave.  I don’t expect you to agree with every decision our church leadership makes, but I do expect you to behave in a godly manner, and to maintain unity. Unity doesn’t mean that we see eye to eye on everything, but we can walk hand in hand and arm in arm. I believe that this year holds the greatest promise of any year in the history of this church, but only if we walk in obedience and stay clean before Him! In word, in deed and in conscience.


Without unity, we become just a shell of who we should be.  So as we face the New Year, let us leave behind anger, resentment and gossip. We need to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to serving the Lord and recognise our opinions are most just that… opinions.  Let’s keep our hearts and lives clean so we can move ahead together!




Romans 13:14 (ESV Strong's)

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.


This year more than ever before we need to grow up. Remember, growing old is compulsory, but growing in maturity is optional. So how can we grow in maturity this year?




This year we need to cast off the old man and put on the new. I just talked about cleaning up our lives, but cleaning house is a sign of maturity. It’s time for you and I to stop trying to beat those old sins, and start trusting Jesus to beat them. And don’t look so smug, we all have them. It is time to get ruthless about tolerating sin in our lives. It’s time to get serious with sin!


And the truth is that many times we tolerate sin and treat it so casually.


Little boy fishing.


If doing something causes you to sin, stop doing it. If someone constantly causes you to sin, come away from them.


Romans 8:13 (ESV Strong's)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


Charles Stanley observes, “We know we should avoid a certain place, but we go there anyway. We recognise a personal weakness for a particular activity, but we tempt ourselves anyway. How often do we fall into sin because we plan for it?”


This New Year is your opportunity to repent, seek forgiveness and take drastic action to stop persistent sin. Make a covenant with me now to do whatever it takes to stop persistent sin in your life, even if it means losing friends or giving up activities you enjoy. It’s time for drastic surgery!


Proverbs 22:3 (ESV Strong's)

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.


A native American story speaks of two wolves: one representing your good and wholesome self, the part of you that seeks to treat others honourably, to encourage, to build up, to love. The second wolf represents your destructive, evil self, the part of you that bites out with sarcasm and resentment and gossip, that tears down others and satisfies your own needs alone.


A boy once asked his father, “Which wolf will get stronger and over power the other in the battle for my life?” And the father said, “Son, that’s simple: the one that you feed.” As you follow Christ, you feed the good wolf within.


This year, which wolf will you feed? It’s time for us to cast off the sin that so easily entangles us!




Some of you here look at your life and wonder if that’s as good as it gets. Job, family, house, car, surely there is more to life than that? Ask yourself now, is there more to life than the life I now lead?


Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong's)

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


Listen, God has a plan and a destiny for your life, something significant you can do, something special you can be a part of in the Kingdom of God. And part of the reason Ignite exists is to make your dreams of ministry come true.


Someone once gave me a workout DVD, and I reckon it doesn’t work. I watched it 20 times and feel no fitter than I did before! What’s the problem? I need to get off my backside and actually do it, not just watch it. And so it is with your destiny. 2018 is the year you can stop watching and start doing, you can stop merely attending church and start getting involved, you can stop wishing and start serving!


2018 is the year that many of you will discover your God given purpose. Some of you will rediscover it, because you use to do things in the Kingdom and you thought that time had passed. Your gift is not dead, it is dormant, and this next year is the year for stirring it up again!





None of this will happen if we do not get serious with God!  We have a new Bible reading plan, and I want to encourage you all to do it. This thing has taken off all over the place, and those doing it are really blessed. You cannot achieve anything significant for God unless you know Him, and the more you know Him the greater you will become.


The way you get to know Him is by reading His Word. Do it every day and I guarantee you your life with Christ will take off. 7 days without prayer and Bible study makes one weak.


This is not some stodgy old book, the Bible is empowered by God’s Spirit,


Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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


You don’t have to do my Bible reading plan, but do some plan. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail, and I believe that 2018 is the year many of us take off into the stratosphere in our lives and ministries.





Two statisticians went hunting. They saw a deer, and one shot and missed by 1m to the right, while the other shot and missed by 1m to the left, so they jumped up excitedly and proclaimed, “We hit it!”


Statistics are like that, you can make them say anything. But recently I saw statistics that indicate that in the modern church someone who attends church once a month is now considered regular.


We live in an age where people find it easy to lash out on Facebook, but hard to commit to Church, marriage or jobs. If we are to get anywhere this year, you and I need to be committed to church, not casual attenders. Ok, some have jobs that require them to work or travel on a Sunday, and some have family obligations, but outside of these I believe we need to do our utmost to play our part in Ignite Christian Church.


Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

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.


The hour is getting late, society and morals are crumbling around us, persecution is upon us and we as a family of believers need to get serious about church. Come join us as often as you can, and don’t stand on the sidelines criticising or feeling left out. Join us, there are wonderful things you can do and wonderful people you can share the journey with.


The Bible says don’t neglect meeting together. Remember,


Leviticus 26:8 (ESV Strong's)

Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.


There is Holy Spirit power in us pulling together, and there is blessing in unity! And 2018 is the year when we shine our light, when we say to the forces of darkness,  “enough”, we will no longer cower in the corner, we will not fade away into the night, but we will stand together and fight for what is right, what is godly and what is honourable.


I was just reading Malachi 1 in the Bible reading plan, and was struck by how upset God was when we offer second rate sacrifices. The people were offering sacrifices as required by law, sure, but they were blemished, lame and sick.


It made me think, how often do we as Christians treat Church like a second rate sacrifice. I will turn up if I have nothing better on, if the surf is average, if the family lunch is cancelled. Brothers and sisters, this should not be!


If we get serious about showing up every week we can to church, and being involved in every way we can, then I believe it will bless God’s heart. If we are inconsistent, we are the ones who will miss out on the greatest opportunity we will ever get to be a part of something truly significant here at Ignite.


God knows our hearts, and He sees the level of our commitment. He promises this…


2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV-WS)

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 


I aim to be that guy.  What about you?


More than ever before in the history of the church in this nation, we need to have Christians standing together. And in 2018, you and I have the chance to join the triumphant church and make a difference that will last eternity!




Towards the end of this previous year we underwent some changes in this church, including changing our name. Ignite is not some random name I conjured up, it is a prophetic word over our church, and this is the year when we get to ignite, fire up and shine God’s Holy light in the darkness.


In Church, and in your Christian life, it is now time to stop looking back and start moving ahead. It’s hats off to the past, but coats off to the future, because God has place a mighty destiny before us!


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

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

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

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


In a dry, parched and weary land, we can be the streams our people need. In a dark, evil, godless society, we can be the shining light.


But to truly shine this year, it takes 2 decisions on your part…


  1. Decide to shine
  2. Decide to keep shining, no matter what!


Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

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.


2018 is our year of destiny, it’s our year of moving forward, it’s our moment to shine! It’s our year to put aside things that ultimately don’t really matter, and concentrate in the one thing that does matter… serving Jesus with everything we have, everything we are, everything we say, everything we do and every desire we possess for the future.


Some of you will hear this and look away, saying he must be talking to someone else. But some of you know you have destiny within you, and you’re just waiting for the opportunity to shine. I stand before you pledging to give my all for the purposes of God in Ignite church this next year, and I’m asking you to stand with me, to shine with me!


Jesus- On a Mission from God

December 20, 2017

Christmas means different things to different people. For some it’s a time of joy, a time to spend with family and good friends. For others it is a time of loneliness. For some it’s a thing of wonder, lights and magic, while for others it’s just a chance to take a few days off work, eat a bit and drink a lot.


In the middle of all this, you might be forgiven for thinking that the central figure of Christmas is a old, fat jolly guy in a red suit. There’s a lot of fake in Christmas… fake elves, fake snow, fake stars, fake trees, fake smiles at family gatherings, to the point where as adults we are conditioned to believe nothing but play along with the façade.  But those of us who are Christians have something more than the fakeness, something that makes this season one of true joy and genuine thankfulness. 


His name is Jesus, and at this time we celebrate His coming to earth. You’ll see pictures of Him as a baby, but that’s not the end of the story… it’s not even the beginning of the story! But why did He, being God, become a man, a person born in a lowly stable, to a working class family who lived in a working class town?  This is one of the great mysteries of Christmas, that Christ...


Philippians 2:6-11 (ESV Strong's)

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


He did not come randomly, He didn’t come to set up a religion. Jesus wasn’t just a good person, or a world class prophet. He was and still is God Himself, and He had the end game in mind.


Jesus came on a mission from God…






I remember seeing the movie “The Blues Brothers”, where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd played Jake and Elwood, who get the original band back together to raise money to save a Catholic orphanage… hence they told everyone there were on a mission from God.


While that mission is debatable, Jesus definitely was on a mission from God. His birth was no accident, it was a very specific moment when God’s Son stepped into time for a specific, God ordained purpose.


This purpose involved Him becoming a man, being conceived supernaturally but being born just like you or I, growing up as a man, living life as a man of that time and finally, choosing to lay down His life. This mission was planned for centuries, and meticulously fulfilled by Jesus Christ.






According to Jewish teaching, the Messiah must fulfil specific descriptive words that were written about Him centuries before, (which we call prophecies) and fulfil them 100%... every single one of them!


Matthew 5:17 (ESV Strong's)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.


There are over 300 references to 61 specific prophecies about Jesus in the OT. Failure to fulfil any single one of these would discount Jesus as the promised Messiah.


These prophecies are very specific, such as the town He must be born into, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) even down to things like being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13), where it even predicts that the 30 pieces of silver are given to buy the potter’s field. Not 29 pieces, and not 31. That’s how specific many of these predictions were.


So, 61 prophecies written 500-1000 years before Christ were all totally fulfilled in one man… Jesus Christ!


Mathematics Professor Peter Stoner calculated the odds that 8 of these prophecies could be fulfilled in one man, and discovered that the odds were 1 in 10 to the 21st power. What does that mean? Well, imagine if you covered the entire earth land mass in 20c coins to a depth of 36 metres, marked one coin and asked someone to travel the world and select that one specific coin first go. That’s the odds.


Forensic scientists match a DNA profile and say the odds of having the wrong person is one in several billion… well that’s the same for having these prophecies fulfilled in one man, and that’s only 8 of the 61 needed.


Jesus came on a mission from God, a very specific mission. Before we examine that mission, let me explain to you what Jesus’ mission from God was not…




People being people, read the Word of God and twist and turn it to suit themselves, but when we examine why Jesus came to earth, we have to take the entire Bible into context, not just the bits that suit us.  Contrary to popular belief, these things were not Jesus’ mission from God…




When the angels announced the arrival of Jesus, they didn’t say peace on earth to all men. They said,


Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)

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


Yes, Jesus came to bring peace on earth, but not for all men, only those with whom God is pleased, those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Until He returns again, we will always have war on earth because people are selfish and nations are militant.


In fact, Jesus said this…


Matthew 10:34 (ESV Strong's)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.


He said this because He realised that when he came to save men’s souls, that this would cause conflict between believers and those who refuse to believe. I’ve experienced that at times, and many times people we love are against our beliefs and what inspires us.


But in the midst of all the terrorism, war, family conflict, divorce and pain, in a sea of arguments over money, things, relationships, gender, children and prejudice, Jesus can make you an island of inner peace. He did not come to bring world peace, but to allow you and I to have the inner peace that passes all understanding, and live a life of joy and fulfilment.






Almost every religion or belief system I have seen emphasises “what’s in it for me!” People turn to religion to get God to do what they want. People turn to atheism not because it makes sense, (it clearly doesn’t) but because it gives them the right to behave the way they want.


I’m so sick of hearing people ordering God around, thinking if they can only say the right prayer, or do the right things they will get what they want.  That, my friends, is paganism.


We are consumers, you and I, and we always make choices based on what is best for us. But Jesus’ mission was never to come and give us what we want. It was never to make us feel comfortable and happy. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion, and yes, I will be the first to tell you that God has given me so many wonderful things in life, and unbelievable joy, but that’s a fringe benefit, it was never the main mission!


Philippians 4:19 (ESV Strong's)

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


Blessing comes to those who seek God first, but never lose sight of the fact that Jesus came with a greater mission that making your life joyful, happy and fun.





Many people resist coming to Jesus not because they don’t believe He is real, but because they are worried that He will want to change the way they live, and they quite like how they live, sin and all!


Ephesians 4:22-23 (ESV Strong's)

put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,


Jesus did come to change your life, but He did not come to rain on your parade! People say to me, “If I become a Christian I will have to stop smoking, swearing, drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, driving a nice car or partying, right?”


Ok, let’s have a look at that… Smoking? An expensive, dirty habit, and one that almost every smoker I know would give anything to stop. Drinking? It’s ok when you’re drunk, but how much fun are hangovers or alcoholism? Drugs? Expensive, ruins your life, ruins your career, ruins your relationships. Swearing? That’s an embarrassment. Sleeping around? How many diseases or disastrous relationships do you need before you figure out that sex with multiple partners is never as fulfilling as having God’s choice as a wonderful wife or husband? If sex brought fulfilment, the most fulfilled person in the world would be a prostitute! Partying? Well, you look cool when you are 18, sad when you are 28, embarrassing when you’re 38 and downright tragic when you’re 48 and still trying to party. What a waste of a life!


People tell me they don’t want to give up the things they like doing to become a Christian. Listen, coming to Christ doesn’t mean you stop having fun… in fact you have more fun, a fulfilled life, family, careers, and blessing others! And when you know Jesus, you recognise how shallow and destructive those old behaviours are.  When you come to Jesus, you don’t give up the lousy life you currently lead, you throw it away. I don’t give up my garbage, I throw it away.


John 10:10 (ESV Strong's)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.


Any so called restriction placed on your life when you come to Christ is for your own protection, and it allows you to live the best life ever! I’ve been married to the same girl for 33 years last week, and I know guys who pick up girls in bars regularly. The world thinks their life is more exciting than mine, more fulfilling than mine, but all of them envy me and the relationship I have with one woman.


Jesus’ mission from God is not to restrict or mess up your life, it’s to fulfil it and make it abundant!


So now we know what Jesus’ mission wasn’t, let look at what His mission from God was.  Why did Jesus come to earth as a baby that first Christmas Day?


First, we need to understand the situation we find ourselves in, the condition of mankind. God created us perfect and without sin, and He gave us a garden to enjoy, but the devil tempted Adam and Eve away from God and towards sin.




What is sin? Is to murdering, or stealing or getting angry at people.  Those are some of the many symptoms of sin, but what is the cause of sin.


Sin is defined by the Bible thus…


1 John 3:4 (ESV Strong's)

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.


Sin is doing anything, saying anything, even thinking anything that is contrary or against God. I have people say to me, “I’m a good guy, I’m honest, I try and do the right thing, so I don’t think I sin.”


Really? Have you ever been selfish? Ever envied your friend? Ever hurt someone you love? Clearly, according to the Bible, we are all guilty as charged. We all live in sin city. We are all lawless, obeying our laws and desires, not God’s.




The Bible says,


Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong's)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,


And that is clearly true. The Bible says that God is holy, and that He, and indeed Jesus is without sin. Any sin. And God is so holy, He will not even look upon sin. The penalty for sin is separation from God, separation in this life from Him, and in eternity separated in hell.


Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


We are all destined for eternal death in hell, every one of us, because clearly we are all sinners! You might cry to God that it’s not fair, but it is extremely fair and just.


And this is why we can do nothing to redeem ourselves. Every religion in the world says that, if you live a good life and your good outweighs the bad, you might just be saved. It’s salvation by works, by doing everything from being a good person, handing out watchtower magazines or murdering non believers!


Every religion is man’s attempt up to reach God, but only Christianity is God’s attempt to reach down to man in the person of His Son and draw man to Himself.




But because of Jesus’ mission from God, Christianity is completely different. The Bible teaches that you and I are destined for hell, and nothing you can do will stop that. Even if you’re a nice guy, you won’t get to heaven, you’ll just get to be the nicest guy in hell!


Jesus’ primary mission was this… God knew we couldn’t become good enough to be saved, and that we deserve to die, so God sent His only Son to die in our place.


John 3:16 (ESV Strong's)

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


That’s the good news of the gospel… you don’t have to be good enough to be saved, because you can never be good enough, you just have to be willing to accept Jesus.


Romans 5:8 (ESV Strong's)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV Strong's)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


This Christmas, look beyond the baby in the manger and see the Saviour hanging on nails dying in your place! Nails didn’t hold Him to the cross, love did! His love for you is the very reason He became that baby, lived as a man and died the death we should have died, to open the door for us to come back to God.


John 10:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”


Accepting God’s gift of eternal life is available to you this Christmas, free of charge. Just repent and receive, it is that simple.




You probably don’t need me to tell you that this world is a dark, dark place! There’s pain, sickness, selfishness, war and prejudice. It seems mankind can’t help themselves, they just hurt each other.


Pause right now and look around at life… there’s the threat of war in North Korea, there’s famines we can’t control, there’s sicknesses we cannot heal, let alone control, there’s evil regimes that operate unchecked. Today there’s more terrorism, more mental illness and more drug abuse than ever before.  Mankind doesn’t know where the next terror attack is coming from, we don’t know how to act kindly, how to care properly for the poor, how to eat properly ourselves, how to relate properly. We’ve no idea how to stop envy, greed, prejudice, exploitation, divorce, separation, and mankind is so smart we don’t know the difference between a male and a female any more!


This world is a mess. What sort of world are we leaving to our children? If we really love our kids, the best thing we can do is to come to Jesus and lead them out of this horrible darkness and into His light.


You see, into such a world God sent His Son to shine a light, His truth, His grace and compassion into our lives, a ray of hope that started at Christmas and grew to completeness hanging on a cross for you.


The second part of Jesus’ mission from God was to shine His holy light in the darkness of the world…


Jesus said,

John 8:12 (ESV Strong's)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”


John 12:46 (ESV Strong's)

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.


But here’s the thing… the Bible says mankind hates it when the light shines into their darkness, because they are ashamed of what they do. Men love darkness because it kind of covers up their faults and sin. Ever wondered why evil things like prostitution, drug taking, drinking, gambling, wife beating, pornography, murder and most other sins, mostly occur at night?


John 3:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”





Jesus’ mission from God was summarised in Isaiah, used by Jesus in Luke to describe Himself

Luke 4:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

“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, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”


If you are feeling like someone or something holds you captive today, Jesus has come to set you free. If you’re a slave to destructive habits, Jesus has come to set you free. If you feel bound, overwhelmed, hurt, if you feel like you are struggling against insurmountable odds, Jesus has come to set you free.


Jesus mission includes healing the sick, binding up the hurt and broken hearted.





Jesus didn’t just come on a mission from God to save us, and to heal and restore us, but His coming opened the way for us to have real power for living. He died in our place on the cross, but death could not hold Him, and 3 days later He conquered death and sin and rose again, showing us that we too can have eternal life!


John 11:25 (ESV Strong's)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,


Eternal life is not some pie in the sky when you die by and by, it starts right here. Jesus’ mission was to give us life for here and now, as well as eternity. The power to live a triumphant life, every day, no matter what circumstances throw at us. Life to the full, starting now.


Jesus died, rose to life again and then went back to be with the Father, but before He went He gave us this gift…


Acts 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”


The Holy Spirit is the deposit of God, living within us. I can’t live a righteous life, and either can you, but God’s Spirit living in you can slowly transform the way you live to empower you to live a righteous, triumphant and blessed life. When Jesus came that first Christmas, His mission was to bring salvation to mankind, to shine in a dark world, to heal and set men free and to empower you to life life to the full. But He has one more mission objective…





Jesus came that first Christmas as a meek and mild baby, born into poverty, raised in obscurity, but He has promised to return, and it will not be as a baby! He’s coming back again in triumph, as the rightful King, and to this end He is raising an army of believers to win the world!


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

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




This Christmas, we remember Jesus coming as a baby. He came on a mission from God, He came and died a horrible death because He loves you. You don’t deserve it, either do I, but God loves you so much He wants to save you for all eternity, and empower you to live for Him, starting right now.


This Christmas you face a choice… go your own way, or turn to Jesus. Stumble in this dark world or come into the light? Give Him the flick, or give Him your life? There are consequences to every decision. What will you do?


Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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


If you come to Jesus, you receive life, and your children are led into the light. Yes, you can save generations by making the right decision now.


Matt Prater shares his life and wisdom

December 11, 2017

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So settle back and listen to Pastor Matt Prater


Peace on Earth, or Pieces on Earth?

December 4, 2017

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


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

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

“Glory to God in the highest,

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

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






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


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


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






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


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


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


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


Luke 2:14 (KJV Strong's)

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


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


Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


Isaiah 48:22 (ESV)

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


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


But Paul writes this…


Romans 5:1 (ESV)

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


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


Isaiah 9:6 (KJV Strong's)


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

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

The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.


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





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


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


Xanthophobia- fear of the colour yellow

Turophobia- fear of cheese

Omphalophobia- fear of bellybuttons

Pogonophobia- fear of beards

Frigatriskaideaphobia- fear of long words (ironic)

Papa phobia- fear of the pope

Hylophobia- fear of trees and woods

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

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


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


John 14:27 (ESV Strong's)

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




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


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




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


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

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


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


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

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


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


Paul wrote


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

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


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




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


2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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





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


Psalms 68:5-6 (NIV-WS)

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

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


If you are feeling lonely and overlooked this Christmas, defender

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


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


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

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


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




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


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


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


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

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

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


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






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


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


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

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

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

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


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




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


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


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


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


1.      PRAY


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

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


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


2.      READ


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


Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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




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


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



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


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


Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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