Ps Darin Browne @ Ignite Christian Church
Spiritual Battlefield 6- Suit Up in the Armour of God

Spiritual Battlefield 6- Suit Up in the Armour of God

June 23, 2019

The armour of God is next, because over the last several weeks we have been doing a series looking at the various battlefields we face as believers in the 21st century. We have examined battles in society, the mind, the family and the battle for money, but no discussion of the battles we face would be complete without looking at the daily, personal battle we fight, for high we need the armour of God.

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

 

We can not withstand the enemy’s attacks if we are not suited up and properly prepared, and we will not take ground for the Kingdom of God if we fail to use the armour of God and the weapons God provides for us.

 

THE TRUE ENEMY

 

We must remember that our true enemy is not people, governments, family members, debt or mental stress. The true enemy is seen in Ephesians 6…

 

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

We need to be strong and to stand in His strength, because our enemy the devil and his troops are fighting hard. But we can and I believe will win! We need to recognise, protect ourselves from and take ground from our true enemy the devil. He is real, he is nasty but he also is a defeated foe!

 

The Bible speaks of the devil more than 100 times. Not once is he a short, red, goat-like dude with a pitchfork. Not once does he enter into fiddling contests down in Georgia.

 

CS Lewis said it well: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

 

Scripture makes it clear that Satan is real and is always working against God and His kingdom. He might ultimately be a defeated foe, but he’s still kicking up mischief, controlling and manipulating people to achieve his evil ends. That's why we need the armour of God.

 

1 John 5:19 (ESV Strong's)

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

 

There is a real spiritual war being waged against God, and every believer finds themselves in this spiritual battle. It’s in our homes and families, it’s in our finances, it’s in our society and it’s also in our heads. When we understand that we are in a battle, our first thought should be “How can I keep from becoming a casualty on this spiritual battlefield?”

 

So yes, Christian. Satan is real and he is still very active. But why do we still need armour of God if Satan was defeated on the cross?

 

Just as an army that has been dealt a decisive blow can still inflict casualties and destruction on individual soldiers, Christians can become also casualties on the spiritual battlefield.  Though we may not lose our salvation—nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord—we can nevertheless be gravely wounded in our spiritual life, as our defeated foe pursues a scorched earth policy.

 

Warfare and spiritual battles are not reserved for the super-spiritual among us. Every one of us who bear the name of Christ are soldiers in His cause, and we require the armour of God so we can be protected from the battle that rages around us.

 

IT’S TIME TO SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD!

 

Ephesians 6:13 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

 

We are instructed to take up the whole armour of God, not bits and pieces, the entire armour of God. Why? Because we need all the armour and weapons in the various battles we face. When Paul wrote this, he was imprisoned, so he likely based his illustration on the Roman soldiers who guarded him. So let’s work our way through Ephesians 6 and see how each piece of the armour of God relates to these battle fronts.

 

1.      BELT OF TRUTH

 

Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong's)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,

 

A soldier’s belt wasn’t a fashion accessory to hold their pants up. It was an important piece of the armour, had various other pieces fastened to it, most noticeably the sword. It’s the belt of truth, and truth is the foundational element of protection for the Christian soldier.  Jesus prayed,

 

John 17:17 (ESV Strong's)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

 

God’s Word is complete truth and it never changes, so the piece of the armour of God upon which our defence hangs is the Word of God. Society’s morals change every 2 minutes, and the world accuses us of being bigoted, draconian and out of touch, but we’re not… We build our defence on Biblical truth that has stood for generations, and we stand on the Word of God, regardless of how culture changes and media react.

 

Scripture should be the basis of the way we live, raise our kids, do business, vote, and connect with our communities.  We must not compromise truth, now more than ever, but we must also commit to loving those whom we disagree with, even those who hate and attack us…

 

Ephesians 4:15 (ESV Strong's)

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

Listen, for too long Christians have had truth, and inflexibly stood for truth, but not showed love. The belt of truth needs to be based on God’s unfathomable love, which doesn’t mean we agree with gays or transgenders or abortionists or sex workers or politicians or media commentators, but that we love them unconditionally, all the while holding onto truth.

 

2.      BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong's)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

 

We must live righteous lives. To be a Christian and walk in a way unworthy of the calling to which we have been called is to march into battle with chinks in your armour of God.

 

Godly character and a right relationship with God are necessary in protecting our heart and allowing us to fight effectively for purity and justice. We must guard our heart and be righteous,

 

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV Strong's)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

 

Philippians 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

 

We are made righteous through faith in Christ, but we still have to protect our heart. We must be living right, living with integrity, we cannot and must not compromise in this present time of darkness. If I claim to be a Christian but live a life of moral compromise, not only do I lack integrity and one day my sins will find me out, but in life’s battles I’m exposed and open to satanic attack.

 

3.      SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

 

If you live a righteous life, this righteousness brings you peace. And when you experience true inner peace, you can’t wait to share this peace with others you know who are stressed by life.

 

Ephesians 6:15 (ESV Strong's)

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

 

The Roman soldier’s footwear was not fashion, neither was it prestige like some sneakers are today. It is what enabled him to travel further and faster than his enemies, through any terrain he may encounter.

 

In the same way, the peace of the gospel is what equips us to travel over rough roads as we carry this same gospel to others. These strong sandals were called caligae, and they had heavy soles with hobnails in them to provide traction for the wearer. These nail studs ensured that the soldier could not easily be pushed backwards in battle.

 

The gospel of peace is like that, it’s strong and allows us to stand for the truth, without compromise and without being pushed back against our will!

 

4.      SHIELD OF FAITH

 

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;

 

When Paul wrote these verses, the average height of a man was just over 5 feet, so the large shield he refers to offered a great deal of protection. Similarly, the shield of faith in the armour of God protects believers from many troubles.

 

The Roman shield was covered in leather and usually soaked with water to extinguish flame-tipped arrows or darts. These arrows were launched from a distance, and without water, the shield could be set on fire. In the same way, lust, pride, anger, contempt, or any number of sinful reactions can hit their mark and set our minds and hearts ablaze with wicked thoughts and desires.

 

But faith counteracts that in the armour of God! In the 21st century, we fight on many battlefields. Whether we are concerned about moral decline in our society, or face fears, pain or anguish in our minds. Whether we face family conflict, people we love hurting us, or if we have money problems, and we live in fear over finances. Whatever battle we face, the shield of faith can protect us from all the enemy’s fiery darts.

 

1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong's)

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

 

HOW TO TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH

 

How do you get faith? Faith is not some mental exercise you have to stir up and convince yourself of.

 

Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong's)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

 

Faith is not trying to convince yourself that a miracle will happen. It’s not ignoring the facts and believing fairy stories. Real faith, the shield of faith that protects you from attack is unwavering. Consider Abraham…

 

Romans 4:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

 

Abraham knew he was infertile at 100 years of age. He didn’t ignore facts, he didn’t hope against hope, he didn’t try and convince himself about a fairy story. No, he looked the facts straight in the eye and said, “I recognise that you are facts and are big. But my God is bigger than you!”

 

So how do you pick up the shield of faith? By knowing a Him. Do the reading plan, pray, and come to church. When you do this, you get to know Jesus Christ, and begin to trust Him. Faith is not something you have to drum up… godly faith occurs naturally when you know Jesus intimately. Know Christ, and the more you know Him the more you realise that He will never leave you, and never forsake you. Faith is simply knowing God so well that you trust Him totally… that’s real faith, the shield in the armour of God!

 

Now here is where is gets exciting. You don’t have to stand alone. You must not face this dangerous enemy by yourself. This is why I am begging you to come to church, because when we are under attack, especially if sin is involved, we isolate ourselves. But that’s the enemy’s strategy, it’s not the battle strategy of God!

 

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!

 

Romans 1:12 (ESV Strong's)

that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

 

The Roman army never sent their soldiers into the field alone. The real strength of their battle plan was when they joined their shields together as a unit.

 

Roman soldiers joined their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier to enemy attack,  called the tortoise. They linked their shields front and back, left and right and even over the top. The strength of their one shield was when it was joined to other shields. The strength of our shields of faith is when we join them together.

 

So if you want to take up the shield of faith, to protect yourself from the darts of the enemy, get close to God and join with others here who can stand with you in faith! If you don’t have a church you like, come here for a time, just join your faith with ours and be protected.

 

5.      HELMET OF SALVATION

 

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

and take the helmet of salvation,

 

Like a helmet covering our head, our salvation protects us from being dealt a deathblow. Those who are in Christ cannot ultimately be defeated by Satan. If you know Jesus, if you have asked Him into your heart as Lord and Saviour, then you are saved, you have eternal life and this protects you.

 

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The helmet protects your mind, and we need this protection today given the attacks on believers by social media, the media, and every area of our 21st century lives!

 

6.      SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

 

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

 

We have looked at our defences, but what is the one offensive weapon in the armour of a God? Just as every Roman soldier would be equipped with a gladius (that’s Latin for sword), every believer is equipped with the Word of God.

 

A sword is a weapon used both for offence and defence in the armour of God. So is Scripture.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

To wield the sword of the Spirit is to use Scripture to defend against attacks on truth and to “destroy strongholds” of false beliefs.  We must use Scripture against any opinion, ideology, or worldview which would place itself in contention with the Word of God.

 

Of course, in any movie you’ve ever watched that involves any sort of sword fight (or light sabre battle) you’ll notice that they are constantly deflecting blows from the enemy—as often as they are attacking with their own sword. And so it is with the Sword of the Spirit. We use it to defend ourselves against error and attacks on the truth of God by knowing and wielding Scripture.

 

In Matthew 4, Jesus responds to every accusation and attack from Satan by saying, “It is written,” and so should we. The world tells us that the Bible is old school, bigoted and out of date, but

 

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.

 

We cannot wield this offensive weapon unless we know it well. So join us, do the Bible Reading plan. Read God’s Word, study it, learn it, memorise it. It’s your sword in the armour of God, and it is powerful to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD

 

We have discovered that as believers we are in the midst of spiritual battles. But God doesn’t leave us exposed to enemy attacks! We thank God that we are well-equipped to stand in the evil day. No matter what may happen, our eternity is secure and Christ’s ultimate victory is certain.

 

To those here who have been greatly wounded in the battle, and that’s many of you here today, —take heart! You may be wounded, you may have suffered attacks from Satan, from worldly people or even from fellow Christian’s, but you are not defeated.

 

The Christian life is not a vow to never lose a battle, but it is a commitment to always fight. To take up the armour of God, stand and fight and join our faith together to grow strong and become a real threat to the enemy.

 

I for one want to be a massive threat to Satan in our area. We need to get our defence right, but then we must be ready to attack and take ground for the Kingdom of God!

 

To those here who are weary, under a constant barrage of fiery darts—take courage. We need not rely on our own strength, but on the strength of Christ, and the faith of others around you. He is never fatigued and never grows weary, and we are keen to stand with you and fight shoulder to shoulder.

 

To those who are distressed at the state of our nation and our world—take comfort. We know that although darkness creeps in from every side, God has equipped us to stand firm in the evil day and against the schemes of the devil. You may think the church has suffered a few setback recently, but in a God a setback is just a set up for a come back!

 

Today, let’s commit to stop running. Stop ducking an weaving and stop barely standing in the battles we face in life. It’s time to start fighting and start taking ground. I am prepared today to commit my life to serving Jesus, my home, my family, my finances, my mind, my dreams, my future.

 

We’ve talked about the battlefields we face as believers, our society’s moral breakdown, our minds, our families and our finances. Today we are equipped to stand and then to take ground. So what about you? Will you stand with me to join our faith shields and fight the good fight together?

 

Colossians 2:15(ESV Strong's)

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

 

Ephesians 6:11 (ESV Strong's)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

 

Are you battle weary? Do you feel alone, being picked off by the enemy? If you feel the pressures of life, it’s time we took a stand… let’s do it together.

Spiritual Battlefield 5- Money

Spiritual Battlefield 5- Money

June 16, 2019

The next battle we are going to look at is the battlefield of money, and this battle affects us all. Old and young, single and married, rich and poor, we all face the battle for money. Now I know some of you will be cringing, and if it’s your first time here you are probably thinking, “Yep, just as I thought, the church wants my money.”

 

I actually have never spoken about money since becoming a pastor here, but let me start by assuring you that I don’t want your money, and God doesn’t need it!

 

Psalms 50:10 (ESV Strong's)

For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.

 

I’m not trying to get your money today. I want to examine the spiritual battle we all face, and while some might get offended or threatened, I really want to set you free from the domination money has over you and your family. I want you to be a victor over money, not a victim of money and greed!

 

THE BATTLE OF OPPOSING  SPIRITS

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

Nowhere is the battle more deceptively covered up than in the area of money. Money is why we get up and go to work. It’s why we visit Centrelink. It’s why we go into debt to buy things that we don’t even know we don’t need. Money controls us, like it or not, and we think it’s normal!

 

Let’s play a word association game. In Matthew 6 Jesus explains spiritual matters using two contrast opposites… There are two kingdoms: earth or heaven; two realms: darkness or light; two masters: God or Satan.

 

So He contrasts opposites in Matthew 6:19-24, storing up treasures on earth and in heaven, light and darkness. Now if you were in the audience listening to Jesus, when He comes to talk about 2 Masters He says “You cannot serve both God and____________”  You would expect him to say “God and Satan.” But Jesus surprises everyone when He says,

 

Matthew 6:24 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

That word money in the Greek is MAMMON, and it means riches personified as a god.

 

Jesus is personifying money as a rival god. Jesus is making it unmistakably clear that mammon is not some impersonal medium of exchange. Money is a neutral medium, that can be used for good or for evil, but the spirit behind money is not neutral, it’s evil, a god opposed to the God we love and serve. That’s why money is a power that seeks to dominate us. Money is godlike.  It is a substitute God. And, if we aren’t careful, it will rule and ruin our lives. In fact, it’s mostly winning this battle, even in the lives of Christians.

 

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

 

An oft misquoted verse says money is the root of all evil. It’s not… money is neutral, but,

 

1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

 

The love of money, the spirit behind the desire for money which is called mammon, that is the root of all kinds of evil.

 

Craig Blomberg, ''It is arguable that materialism is the single biggest competitor with authentic Christianity for the hearts and souls of millions including many in the church.''

 

Many people, even many in churches, are obsessed with money. They think about it, dream of what they could do with it, do things they don’t enjoy to get it and grasp it tight as much as possible. Some of these people are rich, but many poor people obsess about money they haven’t got more than most rich people obsess about money they have got!

 

Again, I’m not after your money today, I want you to be victorious in the battle for money, the battle we all fight, this god of mammon who desires to be worshipped.

 

SHOULD I SELL EVERYTHING AND BECOME A MONK?

 

Luke tells of an encounter between Jesus and a rich, young man. This man asks how to obtain eternal life, and says he has kept all of the rules and laws his whole life.

 

Luke 18:22-24 (ESV Strong's)

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!

 

Jesus saw the real issue for this young man. It wasn’t that he had money, it was that money had him, and the spirit of mammon held his heart rather that God.

 

We don’t have to sell everything, take a vow of poverty and become monks! We simply need to see this battle for what it is, a spiritual battle, and we must overcome the god of mammon. Let’s familiarise ourselves with some of the fronts on which the battle for money is fought…

 

1.      GREED AND SPENDING

 

The most obvious front is greed and spending money on what we want, and of course advertising is built on this spirit. If you’re a rev head, you’ll think nothing of spending money on car parts. If you sew, you’ll make sure you get good material. For me, I’m a tech guy, so I generally have pretty good computers, software, recording software and tech stuff.

 

None of this is wrong in essence, until the lust for things takes a hold of your heart. And the world loves to stimulate your obsessions. Today, if you click on a link for anything, the internet places a cookie on your device and suddenly you gets multitudes of ads for that item (almost like magic!). Jesus said,

 

Luke 12:15 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

I like nice things too, but I need to make sure I buy them only when God wants me to, and that my love for possessions don’t become obsessions, that mammon uses to control my life and finances.

 

2.      DEBT

 

Debt is one of the greatest fronts in the battle of money that we face. We go into debt to get what we want sooner instead of waiting to buy them outright, and of course retailers play on this greed constantly (24 months interest free!).

 

Proverbs 22:7 (ESV Strong's)

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

 

If you borrow money from anyone, you become their slave, it’s that simple. But is all debt bad? Here are 2 simple tests of debt in your life…

 

  1. Is the debt for an appreciating asset?

 

Going into debt for something that will go up in value is what experts call “good debt.” A house, investment or a business is an example. However, going into debt for something that depreciates is foolishness, because the asset goes down in value and you enslaved yourself to a loss. Cars, motorbikes, computers, furniture, holidays… these are consumer debts, and this is what is killing Australians right now.

 

According to the ABS, Australian’s personal debt is now the 4th highest in the world, at 212%. This means if an average Australian earns $80,000 a years, they spend $169,600 a year. The enemy is winning this battle in our nation!

 

 

  1. Can you sustain it? Going into debt for even good, important things will control you if you struggle to sustain it.

 

So even when purchasing a good, appreciating asset, we need not condemn ourselves to crippling repayments, or we will not have quality of life and we become slaves to the debt. Buy a house within your means and leave room to serve God with your money.

 

3.      TAXES

 

This week I had to pay a huge tax bill, and it’s has cleaned me out. But listen, if you live in this country, play by the rules. Tax minimisation is smart. Tax avoidance is illegal, and if you fail to honour God with your taxes, how can you expect Him to bless you with finances?

 

Romans 13:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

 

If you live in this country, if you enjoy our roads, facilities and if you care for those who need social security, honour God and our nation by giving to Caesar what is Caesars. Pay tax!

 

4.      SAVINGS

 

This part of the front is in sad shape! The vast majority of people live to their means and save nothing. I recognise for pensioners and many of us, saving is dfficult. But if you are to be set free from poverty and attain wealth, you must start to save.

 

Proverbs 21:20 (ESV Strong's)

Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.

 

Don’t devour every cent you get, because that is an endless cycle you can never escape from. Even if it’s $10-20 a week, start small, be consistent and start saving. With the wonders of electronic banking, Fiona and I save a portion off the top every week… and don’t miss it!

 

When in debt, time is your enemy, but when saving, time is on your side. If you save $20 a week, in a year you will have over $1000. It all adds up.

 

Proverbs 13:11 (ESV Strong's)

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

 

5.      TITHING

 

Oh no, we knew he’d get to this one! When I say tithe, you feel uncomfortable, and you get angry because you think I’m trying to take your hard earned money for the church. I understand this reaction, but let me show you a different perspective…

 

God is not trying to take 10% of your money. From my perspective, God is letting me keep 90% of the money He brings into my life! I’m an Optometrist, but I recognise that my income comes from the Lord! I can work hard and do my best, but God brings people into my practice, and God brings money in with them. I get to keep 90%!

 

To me, Tithing is not a burden, it’s giving God what is rightfully His anyway. I know that not everyone here gives a tithe to this church. If we had 50 or 60 families here who tithed on a poverty line income we would receive almost $5000 a week. We don’t. That’s ok, I’m not accusing anyone, and I’m not tracking it. But my experience and God’s challenge is to test Him in this, and He will open amazing financial blessing over your life. Frankly, if you’re not tithing, you are missing out on blessing, and hurting yourself financially… God challenges you like this…

 

Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV Strong's)

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

 

In my life I have proven again and again  that financial blessing starts with giving God what is His anyway. But it doesn’t stop there.

 

6.      SOWING

 

Tithing, honouring the Lord with what is His anyway, is the baseline, prepares the soil and opens the door for blessing. I tithe to the church, but I believe what I give beyond our tithe is the seed sown that can yield an

 abundant crop. A generous spirit opens the door to financial wealth…

 

Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

 

THE POVERTY MENTALITY

 

Most Australians, many Christians included, are infected with a poverty mentality. This mentality keeps you financially where you are.  The signs of a poverty mentality according to secular sources include no ambition to improve or change, blaming the government or markets for your situation, being jealous of those with money, making decisions based on fear and loss, and focusing on what you don’t have rather than on what you do have.

 

Again, the source of this mentality in mammon, the love of money even if you don’t have it, which controls and makes you worship it as a god!  But it sets up a mental stronghold that closes you down to any change. You’ll say, “I can’t do this, I can’t be generous, I can’t tithe, I can barely make it as it is.”

 

Proverbs 13:18 (ESV Strong's)

Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

 

So if you are thinking this way, please put your preconceived thoughts aside and listen as I share some ideas that can and will change your financial situation and future. Here’s our warfare strategies to win the battle for money…

 

1.      STOP BLAMING GOD, THE CHURCH OR OTHERS

 

If you are not happy with your financial situation, stop blaming the government or others who have more than you. Chances are they have taken risks you haven’t, worked harder or managed their money better than you.  

 

Someone once asked me the difference between a musician and a mutual fund. It’s this. The mutual fund eventually matures and makes money! The first step in maturity is taking responsibility and not blaming others. Some here might even blame God…

 

Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong's)

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

 

Proverbs 19:3 (MSG)

People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?

 

I’m about to lay out for you God’s strategy to win the battle for money. I challenge you to do it, because my experience is that God will never let you down, but don’t you dare be disobedient to God and then blame Him for the result!

 

2.      LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS

 

So many live beyond their means, spending more than they earn. This is foolishness, and ultimately doomed. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it, or buy it second hand and cheap. When Fiona and I married, we lived in a rented house with second hand furniture. We never went out to dinner. We saved, and we got ahead, because we lived within our means. Be content, not lusting for more.

 

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

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 don’t need that new car, new sofa, new computer, new phone. You won’t die if you don’t get it. If you can afford it, by all means get it, but if not, be content. A designer coffee a day might only cost $5, but that’s $35 a week, and $1820 a year.

 

3.      WORK HARD

 

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Success in life, and in finances, most often involves work.

 

Proverbs 12:11 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.

 

You might be classified unfit to work, but think of this from a spiritual point of view… why not work for the Lord if you can’t get paid employment. Help out, care for others, meet with them, bless them, take your eyes off yourself and love others. You may not be paid, but God sees it and He will provide incredibly if you work hard for Him.

 

4.      GIVE FIRST FRUITS

 

Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

 

If you want to honour God, do it first, before anything. How many know if you pay your bills, buy your supplies, food, a few cups of coffee, something for the kids, etc… If you do this then think about God with whatever is left over, you will not give God what is His.

 

The Hebrews gave God the first fruits because it is His anyway. The first amount went to God, and guess what… He increased their wealth! I choose to give my tithe first, before anything else comes out, because it’s God’s anyway in my mind.

 

I’m thinking of giving a first fruits offering to the Lord at the start of the new financial year. I know many people give a week’s wages at He start if the financial year, the first fruits of your income. If you decide to honour God, you have His promise of blessing. So my experience and my advice is, honour God first, and He opens all you need…

 

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.

 

5.      HAVE A GENEROUS SPIRIT

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

If you believe you can’t afford to give God what is rightfully His, then I’m sad for you, because you will never be free from the god of mammon. If you are stingy and feel you can’t change, I’m sad for you, for you will never be free. A generous spirit is one God loves, and He honours and blesses generous people.

 

I am among the least paid pastors in the ACC. I work a secular job 4 days a week, and while a church this size should have 2 full time pastors, it has one part time pastor.

 

But if you go out to dinner with me, I am always the first to try and pay. If I see a need, I want to be the biggest giver to that need. Our church needs money to move, and I personally will commit to giving as much as possible to Ignite, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Why? Because in my experience, you can’t out give God.

 

A generous spirit breaks the power of the enemy in this battle. I want to have an open mind, and open hand, and an open bank account. Some of you have little money, so you give time, or meals or prayer. That’s still giving, if you’re cheerful, God loves it, and honours it.

 

If you are struggling financially, I want to challenge you to commit to doing finances God’s way, with a generous spirit and a faith that He will provide for you.

 

Luke 6:38 (ESV Strong's)

give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

 

If you face financial struggles right now, pray with me and say, “All that I am, all that I have it Yours, Lord!”

 

Spiritual Battlefield 4- The Battle for the Family

Spiritual Battlefield 4- The Battle for the Family

June 9, 2019

The battle for the family has long been a key battle in life. Family is unique in that it can be one of the greatest blessings, and the greatest source of pain, all at the same time! I’m not setting out to counsel warring couples or to do a marriage or parenting seminar, but to look at the spiritual battlefield that is family.

 

Solomon, wisest man in the world, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That’s 1000 wives, worse 1000 mother-in-law.

 

Put a man and a woman together, add a few kids, a grandparent or two, maybe an in-law, an adopted stray or two, and you have a recipe for a rich and wonderful life, or a world class disaster. Let’s face it… Drive through the streets of our town and houses look nice, look peaceful and affluent , but inside they are wall to wall hell! I heard this week that 2 of every 3 call outs Police get is about domestic violence, so this battleground is hotting up!

 

When we marry (or when we dream of marriage) we have an idyllic vision of what family life will be like.  We see happily married people and we think, “Yep, that’s going to be me.” The man thinks his wife will always be attractive. The wife walks down the aisle to the altar while they’re playing a hymn and she thinks that’s what marriage will be like… I’ll alter him!

 

Psalms 128:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots

around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

 

The reality is often far from the initial vision, especially when you add children to the mix. We realise that putting 2 selfish sinners together doesn’t lead to marital bliss, it leads to marital blitz often times, because, as my wife says, marriage is perfectly designed to grind.

 

Proverbs 11:29 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

 

We seem powerless to build good families, and good families seem more a result of chance rather than planning. On this battlefield, the enemy wins many times, but if we seek God’s wisdom, I believe that we can win the battle for the family. So on what fronts does the enemy attack?

 

BATTLEGROUND 1: THE FAMILY UNIT

 

For a long time, and increasingly in recent years, the family has been under attack. Mum, dad and the 2.4 kids is ceasing to be the norm in our society. We have so many single parent families, grandparents raising kids and now same sex families, that the legal definition of families has changed.

 

But God’s plan has not changed. Jesus said,

 

Matthew 19:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

God’s plan is to have a mum and a dad and the kids. If you are a single parent, then the task is greater, but even when one party or other steps out of God’s will, He can still lead and guide you. But despite fashion, current trends and the social situation, God’s plan is still His first choice, whether you aren’t alone or with a partner.

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Praise God that, even if you are going through marital difficulties, separations or divorce, God loves you, has a destiny for you and can do wonderful things in your life. Whether we are partnered, or single parents, understand that God wants us to keep the family unit together as much as possible.

 

BATTLEGROUND 2: FATHERHOOD

 

Men are under attack as never before. Australia has long been known as the land of the absent father, with traditionally many dads down the pub or at work or not even on the scene. Over the last many years, the role of the father has been a battlefield, and socially men and being a man is undermined and under attack constantly.

 

I believe it is time for men to stand up and be men! Real men. It’s time for us to become real fathers to our kids, and real husbands to our wives. The greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother. Our inspiration, and I know the men’s conference coming up is looking at this, should be God as a father, because He is the perfect father.

 

Psalms 68:5 (ESV Strong's)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

 

Men in relationships are frequently the abusers. They hit, they speak down to, they manipulate and control their wives and children, but this is not the heart of your Heavenly Father. This is…

 

Luke 15:20 (ESV Strong's)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

 

BATTLEGROUND 3: FAMILY CONFLICT

 

The Bible is full of family conflict stories, so conflict in the family is nothing new. Look at Adam’s sons

 

Genesis 4:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?”

 

Look at Jacob and his favouritism of Joseph and the troubles this caused. Look at David and his son Absalom. Family conflict is a fact of life, and I bet it is in your family too!

 

Many couples might be together physically, but their relationship is not together at all. Some of you here may be like that. You’re married, but there is so much conflict in the home that you’re looking for any excuse to be away from the home.

 

If your family looks like a soap opera, it’s time to declare to the enemy that enough is enough!

 

 

God’s will is for your marriage and your family to prosper. But the fact is that we are all sinful people, and we are all selfish, so conflict will occur between selfish parties. This is a battle of the devil is exploiting every day, and many people’s lives and ministries have been ruined by family conflict.

 

“Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness and is an insult cast in the face of God.”

  1. H. Morrison

 

BATTLEGROUND 4: FAMILY REBELLION

 

Rebellion in families is not new either, and many times godly, honourable parents find their children rebelling and rejecting Christ. Remember the prodigal son, who took his inheritance and squandered it? Kids rebelling against parents, wives and husbands rebelling against each other, kids going their own way and disregarding their upbringing and parent’s standards…

 

1 Samuel 8:3 (ESV Strong's)

Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

 

Even godly men like Samuel, like King David, like Josiah and others had kids that rebelled. Talk to older people here and they will tell you that kids are more rebellious today than ever before, and it is true. Here’s how Paul describes the last days…

 

2 Timothy 3:1-3 (ESV Strong's)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents,

 

Rebellion in families is almost impossible to avoid, because the devil is battling hard to break up families. He knows that if he can turn children against parents and parents against each other, he can win big victories, yet we are not without influence here, especially mothers, and especially when you start young. Poem…

 

Woman, how divine your mission,  Here upon our natal sod;

      Keep—oh, keep the young heart open, Always to the breath of God!

 All true trophies of the ages Are from mother-love impearled,

      For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world. (William Ross Wallace).

 

This is saying that the one who brings their kids up the right way has incredible, influence.

 

Look, you might have 3 kids and one goes off the rails.  It’s important to recognise that you do your best and bring your kids up, but that at a certain age, the child has the free will to make a choice. If they reject Christ, stop blaming yourself and start praying and believing for their salvation.

 

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV Strong's)

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

The devil fights for the souls of your children, because he fears what godly parents can instil into the hearts of children who obey and love God! Train them up when young, and pray like crazy when they are older, because a parent’s prayer can win your child back to Christ!

 

BATTLEGROUND 5: GENERATIONAL CURSES

 

The devil would like nothing more than inflicting upon your family a generational curse. And we see it all the time, from inheritance of  diseases to girls falling pregnant at 16, generation after generation. The concept of generational curses comes from passages like

 

Numbers 14:18 (ESV Strong's)

‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’

 

But we need to also recognise that God wants to set us free from such curses in our families…

 

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV Strong's)

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

 

Psalms 103:17 (ESV Strong's)

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

and his righteousness to children's children,

 

If your parents, or your parent’s parents suffered or sinned or seemed cursed, if you love Jesus you do not have to tolerate these generational curses. It’s time to do battle and we will be victorious!

 

STRATEGIES TO FIGHT THE BATTLE FOR THE FAMILY

 

Of the many battles we face in life, this is one we need to win! But don’t fall into the trap of excusing the mistreatment of people close to you you saying, "They’re only family, that won’t hurt" and so passing off any offence and failure on our part as if it has no consequence.

 

But it does matter. It matters because it isn’t just some fluke of nature that you have a family. It is part of God’s plan for your life. Your family is important to Him and to you. It doesn’t take much effort to let barriers build up between members of the family, between husband and wife, between parents and children. It happens so easily. And it happens most often that our pride will not let us be the first one to apologise and start tearing down those walls and open up the communication of love and forgiveness between us.

 

So in your family relations you face a choice… your way, or God’s way…

 

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, But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

So what are some strategies you can employ right now to win the battle of the family?

 

1.      PRAY, DON’T SAY

 

If you saw the movie “The War Room,” you would realise that prayer is essential to fight for your family. Was are often tempted to speak our mind, but I believe we can get better results when we pray, not say. You cannot nag your husband or wife into a great relationship, and you cannot nag your kids into a godly lifestyle. You can nag them and drive them away. Or you can pray them in!

 

1 John 5:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

 

So read His Word, pray and get closer to God, and as you do I guarantee that your life, your relationships and your home will start to come into alignment. I challenge you, if you are struggling in your marriage, build a war room in your home and pray rather than say.

 

2.      LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY

 

I was asked at the Father of the Year by the Premier how to become a great father. I told her to love her children unconditionally because that’s how God loves us. If you want to prosper in your marriage and your family, love each other unconditionally.

 

Human love is usually conditional. I love you if you do well at school, I love you if you make money. Or I love you if you’re beautiful, or handsome. Your spouse needs to know that you love them, no matter what. If they get fat, or bald, or if they go broke, or fail an exam, or spend too much on shoes, or prang the car. I heard of a wife who tops her husband she had good news and bad news, which did he want first. He said, good be me the good news. She said, “The airbags on the car work.” Your love must be unconditional.

 

Romans 12:9-10 (NIV-WS)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

 

When you love unconditionally, you honour your wife, your husband or your children above yourself. Your spouse or children, when they know they are loved no matter what, really feel secure.

 

Ephesians teaches that husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves His church, and wives are called to devote themselves to their husbands as the church devotes itself to Christ. Emulating the love that exists between God and His church in a family is essential, but no easy feat.

 

3.      TAKE A TIME OUT

 

When conflict erupts in the family, you WILL react rather than respond. A reaction is fast, it’s heated, it’s the first thing that comes into your head, it hurts others and it is almost always destructive. A response takes time, is thought through and measured and is much more constructive.

 

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

So when you have a fight looming with your spouse, or with your children, before you or they explode, agree to take a “time out.” This one, simple tip could save a ton of heartache.

 

Instead of exploding and reacting badly, agree that either side can call a time out for 30 minutes, and that you have to walk away and say nothing in that time. Then when you return the conversation will be a lot more civil and a lot more constructive!

 

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

 

4.      CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES

 

As a parent or a partner, you don’t have to win every battle.  Erwin Rommel said, “Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything from winning.”

 

There are some you must fight for and win, but others are not as important. With your child, for example, you can lose a small battle with them over a tidy room or a set bedtime, but your dare not lose one over taking drugs and sleeping around!

 

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV Strong's)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

 

Parents, if you fight over every little thing, as your child gets older they will become exasperated, enraged by everything. You can win the battle for your family by choosing the important battles you fight and win.

 

5.      PUT EACH OTHER FIRST

 

We are naturally selfish, and marriage and family are hard because every one of us wants their own way. Don’t say you don’t, because you know you do! We all think we are right, and we all want our own way. Here’s what Paul writes about any group living together…

 

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV Strong's)

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

So, in your marriage, put each other first. Honour each other, and each of your children. Don’t show favouritism, but find something to celebrate in each child, and each other. See the best in them!

 

6.      PUT CHRIST AT THE CENTRE

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV-WS)

 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

A rope is made strong because it’s not 2 but 3 cords. And these cords do not run in parallel, they are intertwined, woven together. If you put Christ at the centre of your marriage, you can survive the pressure and prosper into eternity. So honour God in your life, do quiet times, read His Word and come to church, because you will reap the benefits in your marriage.

 

7.      ASK “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”

 

I know we have books and wristbands asking WWJD, but honestly it is best practice in all your relationships, within the family and outside as well. That phrase comes from a book called “In His Steps,” and the book is based on this verse…

 

1 Peter 2:21 (ESV Strong's)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

 

1 John 2:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

 

So if you have turmoil, tension or battles within your family, if you have anger, rebellion, cold fronts or a daily soap opera at home, then stop before you speak or act and ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

 

Would Jesus explode in anger? Would Jesus say those aggressive, hurtful words? Would Jesus compare children and aliens some of them? Would Jesus give someone the cold shoulder if He didn’t get His way?

 

THE BATTLE IS ON!

 

Like it or not, the battle for the family is on… big time! Don’t think that shutting down, walking away or just giving in to keep the peace in the home is God’s way. No, ask if Jesus would do that?

 

You may feel like you’re battling your wife or husband, fighting your wayward kids, but remember,

 

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV-WS)

our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

So if you are struggling with family conflict, between husband and wife, or parents and kids, then it’s time to tell the enemy, “Enough is enough!”

 

Let me share the words of Nehemiah when he faced a formidable enemy…

 

Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV Strong's)

And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

 

My challenge to you this morning is… who wants to fight for your marriage, your home and your family?

Spiritual Battlefield 3- The Battle for the Mind

Spiritual Battlefield 3- The Battle for the Mind

June 2, 2019

Last week we looked at the battlefield which is our modern society, and this week we want to turn our attention to the battlefield of the mind.

 

We know some of these battles are physical, involving a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be treated using medication. But some of these onslaughts are spiritually based, and are designed by the devil to disrupt and ruin your life. And the lives of others you hurt.

 

The onslaught of the enemy on our minds is perpetual and relentless, with statistics tell us that 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness in any given year, and that 45% of Australians will suffer from a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their life. Including depression, anxiety, paranoia, and more severe conditions like bipolar, substance abuse and various psychoses. Mental illness is a major contributor to job loss, relationship breakdown and suicide. Doctors now believe that 80% of all physical ailments are based in the mind, things like blood pressure, diabetes and ulcers.

 

Mental illness or not, pretty much all of us face a battle in the mind, with advertising, media, movies and TV assaulting our eyes, music, gossip and negativity assaulting our ears, and the God of this world through these and other means relentlessly assaulting our hearts time and time again. In this spiritual battle, the enemy wants to control and manipulate your mind in order to manipulate your life, so if we can win the battle of the mind, we will win the battle of life.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV Strong's)

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

It is God’s will for us to have a sound mind, even with the pressure of modern life, but if we are not aware where is the enemy attacking, how can we defeat him?

 

THE DEVIL’S PRIMARY TARGET

 

On a battlefield, not all targets carry the same weight, and some victories are more important than others. For the devil, his primary target in the battle for the mind is your inner peace. If he can upset that, it gives rise to paranoia, depression, fear, worry and these lead to victories in other mind battles.

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The Hebrew word for stayed is SAMAK, which means to lean up against, support or uphold. So this verse is saying lean on God, when you’re down and overwhelmed, when you feel you cannot prevail, let Him support your mind and let Him give you peace. If the enemy can steal your peace, he can win the battle of your mind, but if you stay or lean your mind on the Lord, the enemy is powerless to touch you.

 

And in the battle for the mind, as in all of life, you cannot rely on how you feel, but instead must lean on the unchanging word of God. Remember, the devil’s best deception is to make you so deceived  you can’t tell that you are deceived, and so you have no means of fighting back! Here’s a few ways in which the enemy can attack your mind…

 

1.      DIFFICULTIES AND TRIALS

 

One of the chief weapons satan uses to attack your mind is difficulties. We do ok until something, or many things, go wrong… then we cave in! When you face difficulties you also face a choice… to believe God, or believe satan. These attacks will come, so get ready.

 

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

 

Good advice Peter, but how can I rejoice when suffering? I find this hard sometimes. Well, you are not called to rejoice that you’re suffering, but to rejoice in your suffering, rejoice in faith knowing God is working all things for good. So you can choose to let life’s difficulties mount up for you, or you can choose to see the great things God does through them.

 

John 16:33 (ESV Strong's)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

Many of you face difficulties at the moment, and if you are not careful this will affect your mindset. But make no mistake, you choose to be overwhelmed by it, or you choose to triumph over it.

 

2.      DISOBEDIENCE

 

Disobedience or sin is a prime battlefield in your mind. If you wilfully sin and refuse to repent, then this opens the door to allow Satan to attack your mind. This clearly applies to those who do not know Jesus, but for we who are being saved, it still applies because persistent sin removes God’s hedge of protection and opens you to demonic attack.

 

Psalms 81:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

 

God’s judgement on your sin is often just to take His hands off the wheel and let you reap what you are sowing. So if you want to win the battle for the mind, stop sinning and start being obedient!

 

3.      DISCOURAGEMENT

 

Many times you are not in sin, but difficulties lead to discouragement. The enemy loves to discourage believers because when he attacks using discouragement it can affect everything.

 

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

When what you hope for and work for and long for is deferred, when the goalposts keep moving further away, discouragement is the inevitable result.

 

Some of you here have battled for a long time, hoping for a breakthrough, and your mind is discouraged. Perhaps you’ve asked God and believed for business success, or a loved one to come to Christ, but because it hasn’t happened you get discouraged. And discouragement often leads to…

 

4.      DOUBT

 

When the enemy attacks, you can get discouraged and the next phase of his operation is doubt. Doubt is the opposite of faith.  Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there!

 

If you get enough hits, enough troubles, discouragement and enough bad experiences, doubt starts to rise up instead of faith. And doubt starts to toss your mind back and forth…

 

James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Some of you here are experiencing doubt in your mind right now as the enemy battles for your mind. You try to believe God, but doubts overwhelm you, and the enemy is winning.

 

5.      DEEP-SEATED HURTS

 

Everybody hurts at some time or other. Many people have said and done things that hurt you at some point, but we need to bring these hurts to the Lord and Ask His forgiveness for our lack of forgiveness towards those who have hurt us. If we don’t do this, these hurts often become deep-seated hurts, ingrained into our minds, and they are classic weak spots for the devil to attack.

 

Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

 

When someone hurts you, regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, if you hold on to unforgiveness, it grows into bitterness and this defiles your mind, giving the enemy a chance to attack and defeat you! Some of you here need to forgive and let go of things done to you in the past. Unforgiveness will destroy your mind and allow the enemy a foothold. Unforgiveness is like you drinking poison hoping the other guy dies. Whether you we right or wrong, forgive and move on!

 

Bill Newman often says, “Don’t nurse your hurts, don’t curse your hurts, don’t rehearse your hurts, you’ve got to reverse your hurts, because hurts will make you either bitter or better”

 

6.      DECEPTION OF SELF

 

This is the age of the selfie, the age of me-isms, and for most people life is all about them. Advertising says, drink this beer and you’ll be cool, wear this lipstick and the guys will love you, drive this car, use this deodorant, use this phone, it’s all about you and what you want.

 

Don’t think this is true… remember Australian Idol, and the people completely deluded into thinking they can actually sing. There are people pouring money into scams, there are people working long hours for money while neglecting what’s important in life. People are blinded in this battle by the enemy, so they cannot see the truth about who they are and their need for Christ.

 

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

the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

 

We need to serve, not fight for our rights. In our modern, self deluded world, people fight for rights all the time, where they always have an agenda, being a servant flies directly in the face of this battle. People fight for human rights, land rights, they fight for gay rights, they are passionate about save the whales, save the koalas, yet we murder babies for convenience. We should just wrap all these rights up into one bundle, call it land rights for gay whales, and then realise our only right as believers is to serve Jesus.

 

A servant mindset negates many of the selfish, self centred me-isms of this age.

 

Mark 10:43-44 (ESV Strong's)

whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.

 

7 WAYS TO WIN ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE MIND

 

Satan attacks your mind because that is the gateway to your heart and soul. If he wins that battle, he can neutralise your life with Christ, ruin your life and destroy the people you love. Winning this battle for the mind is one of the most important tasks you have in our modern world, so what strategies can we employ to win the battle for the mind?

 

  1. DON’T PUT GARBAGE INTO YOUR MIND

 

The first strategy to master your mind is to be wary of what you put into it. The old computer adage “Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. You alone decide what you put into your mind, and you alone are the gatekeeper.

 

Psalms 101:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

 

Now, pause for a moment and think about what you let into your mind. What you let into your mind shapes your mind, and opens you to all kinds of attacks on your mind. Many studies have shown a link between heavy metal music and suicide, and violent films or video games increasing aggression in teenagers. This is not surprising… garbage in, garbage out.

 

So the first step to mastering your mind is to carefully watch what you put into it. What TV shows do you watch? What movies do you watch, what music do you fill your mind with? What junk do you let in via internet sites, pornography, Facebook, or other social media? What friends do you let into your life?

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

  1. RENEW YOUR MIND

 

Just as your computer needs to be constantly updated (especially windows 10) so too your mind needs to be constantly updated or renewed.

 

Romans 12:2 (NIV-WS)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

The Greek word for pattern means a mould, and that’s a great description of how the devil acts on your mind. He tries to squeeze you into the mould of this world, to make you conform the the pattern of morality and thinking that everybody else has. Don’t believe me? Try getting on Facebook and saying that you are against gay marriage and wait about 5 Minutes… you will soon see people trying to mould you into their pattern!

 

The Greek for renewing is “anakainosis” which means renew, to make new again and to conform your thinking to make it like God’s thinking. So again it’s a choice… be moulded into the world’s thinking, or be moulded into God’s image. How do you renew your mind? Read God’s Word every day, come to church and fill it, wash it, regenerate it with good, Godly things.

 

In Israel there are two Great Lakes or seas, both fed by the Jordan river. Galilee has fresh, clean water, and it is full of life and fish. The Dead Sea is exactly that… Dead. It has lethal concentrations of salt and nothing lives in or even near the Dead Sea. What’s the difference? Galilee has an outflow, so the waters are constantly renewed, but the Dead Sea has no flow out. It is never renewed!

 

Daily Bible reading with our reading plan is a great place to start renewing your mind. I challenge you to do it.  Renewing your mind means putting godly things into your mind. Come church, get involved, listen to worship music, read the Bible daily and other Christian books, watch wholesome movies…

 

  1. GUARD YOUR MIND

 

Reading the Word of God renews your mind, but you will still suffer attacks, so when you are renewing your mind you also need to guard it. How can you guard your mind from satanic attacks?

 

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.

 

Prayer… Not the shopping list of things you order God to do for you, the two way dialogue where you pray and His Spirit speaks back to you. This is what Fiona is studying in her course, how to hear the voice of God! When you hear Him, your mind is renewed, and you are filled with peace and love.

 

Prayer and Bible reading not only renew your mind, they guard your heart and mind, protecting you from the attacks of the evil one in this battle!

 

  1. BE ACCOUNTABLE

 

Coming to church, hanging out with fellow believers not only insures more good than bad things are deposited into your mind, it also keeps you accountable. I have long noticed that people drift away from church when they are dabbling in sin, because they are embarrassed and convicted.

 

Being accountable to mature Christians is a great way to guard your mind and keep you on track as you master your mind. If your mind is under attack, if your thoughts are troubling you, don’t isolate. Stay here, get with people who love you and stay connected, because…

 

Proverbs 27:17 (ESV Strong's)

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

 

 

  1. STAY POSITIVE

 

When you are under attack in this battle, you will notice often times that negative thoughts begin to crop up and take charge of your life. We need to watch our mouths and what we say, making sure we stay positive and filled with faith instead of descending into negative.

 

Christians should be like teabags… their true colours come out when they are in hot water! When it’s darkest Christians should shine brightest.  And Christians can stay positive. I ask people how they are going and they often say, “Pretty good under the circumstances.” Then I ask what they are doing under there, they should be living above the circumstances.

 

Whatever the circumstances, you can choose how you respond. Negative, with doubt and fear. Or positive with faith. Whether you feel it or not, you can make a choice in your mind to remain positive, and your words have power. 10/12 spies gave a negative report on the Promised Land, but Caleb said this…

 

Numbers 13:30 (ESV Strong's)

 “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

 

They all saw the same fortified cities and giants that lived there. But their perceptions were different. Their minds were different.  Most of the spies who were sent out perceived the fortified cities and giants as threats and intimidation. But Caleb perceived them as opportunity to conquer.

 

Your problems, your adverse circumstances, will give rise to either fear and doubt or they can be an opportunity to shine for Jesus. When Fiona and I lost everything including our home in an investment collapse, everyone was watching us, to see how we would react. It hurt, is was fearful and intimidating, but we chose to see the positive and chose faith instead of fear.

 

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

 

How can you stay positive in the face of pain, doubt, fear, heartache, sickness, breakups or whatever you are now facing. You do this by filling your mind with positive things. Just as you can fill it with negative things from TV, Facebook, etc, you can choose instead to fill it with the positive…

 

  1. TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE

 

Even if you are trying to stay positive, filling your mind with good, godly things, this is a battlefield, and sometimes the enemy wins a round or two. Winning this battle is not a once off event, but a steady, ongoing and vigilant fight. You have to constantly be on your guard, because when you think you have the devil pegged and you recognise his influence, he sneaks up on you another way! He’s a cheat and doesn’t fight fair. All’s fair in love and war, and this is a war for your thoughts and your mind! So how do we deal with all this?

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Negative thoughts will pop in even to the most positive among us. When those negative thoughts enter your mind, take them captive and make them obedient to Christ! Don’t entertain them, don’t invite them for dinner or to stay with you, capture and neutralise them! Say, “I’m not going to listen to you, Jesus says I’m more than a conqueror, so you have no effect!”

 

  1. STAY FOCUSSED ON JESUS

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat, his eyes were on Jesus, his mind filled with faith, and he walked on water. Then he looked around at the wind and waves, Satan attacked his mind and he began to falter, started to doubt and started to sink.

 

Matthew 14:29-31 (ESV Strong's)

Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

The key to mastering  your mind is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t look at those circumstances, don’t listen to negativity, whatever you are going through now, you can win the battle for your mind by focusing on Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV-WS)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

 

YOU CAN WIN THE BATTLE OF YOUR MIND!

 

I know many of you face huge battles in your mind. If sin is tempting you, if negative thoughts or unforgiveness are controlling you, if you have seemingly insurmountable odds and you can’t seem to break our or negativity, then I am here today to tell you that you can win the battle for the mind!

 

I know many here struggle to stay positive and fill their minds with good things, but today is the day we say to the devil ENOUGH. We are choosing to fix our eyes on Jesus, we are choosing to take negative, destructive thoughts captive, we are choosing to renew our minds with good and godly things, because we are going to win the battle for our minds!

 

If you are struggling with thoughts that seem to have power over you, stand up.

Spiritual Battlefield 2- The Battle for Society

Spiritual Battlefield 2- The Battle for Society

May 26, 2019

We are looking at the spiritual battlefields in this modern age. You remember last week we looked at spiritual battlefields, and we saw that beyond what we can see and feel there is a battlefield that is ferocious, in the heavenlies.

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

As we saw with the federal election last week, there is a spiritual battle happening over our nation, and our people, and this week I want to develop that as we look at the battlefield of society.

 

Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

God is looking throughout the earth for those who will stand in the gap for our nation, for our people. Are you that person? If God asks you, and I believe He is asking you, will you say , “Here am I Lord, send me!” At this pivotal time in history for our nation, I believe God is raising up men and women of faith, and you and I have the chance to fight in this battle… and win!

 

THE BATTLEFIELD STRATEGY… LINES ARE DRAWN

 

The battle lines are drawn, and the two opposing armies are in position. What we have seen over the last year or so are the opening skirmishes, but they are not the true battle, they are probes, reconnaissance missions by the enemy to find our weakest point so they can attack in force.

 

What we saw in this election was the people of God finally uniting in prayer and starting to push back against a previously largely unchallenged enemy. It was a victory for righteousness of sorts, but it is just the first of many battles to come in this war.

 

Peter offers a promise that could have been written to our people in our generation…

 

1 Peter 5:8-10 (ESV Strong's)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

 

Christ will indeed restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us, but there will also be suffering and fighting before then. The most persecuted people in Australia today are not the gays, or transgenders, the Muslims or sex workers. No, our society bends over backwards to accommodate these and not offend them. The most persecuted part of Australian society today is Christians!

 

So where is this battle taking place? Let’s get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield we face, and recognise where the key strategic areas we must defend and fight for.

 

 

 

 

 

1.      MORALITY

 

Morality is clearly the primary battlefront. The moral corruption and degradation in our society has certainly been ramped up, and this is clearly a front line, where the enemy has taken real ground over the last few years. Paul describes it like this…

 

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV Strong's)

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness (etc.). …foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

That’s what we are seeing… even those not practicing these behaviours approve of it! The rise of militant gay and lesbian action is unprecedented in history. Transgenderism is heavily promoted in schools and colleges, and abortion has become legal up until birth in this state. It’s not advance Australia fair but advance Australia wherever vocal minorities want.

 

And the crazy thing is that our society is tying themselves in knots over this! The logic simply makes no sense! After 2 or 3 centuries of being told that science is king, that it is the ultimate authority, after elevating the views of science in areas like climate change and evolution, none of which can actually be proven, we are now told that emotions and feelings trump science.

 

So despite scientifically having an X and a Y chromosome, if you feel like you want to be a woman, well forget science and facts and stuff, just change to what you feel!  So we have situations like Hannah Mouncey, a 6 ‘4” muscle bound transgender whom society will let change into a woman, but whom the AFL won’t let play women’s football because he/she is destroying others.

 

Make no mistake… the lines are drawn, the battle is on and to the eyes of these lobby groups Christians are the enemy. Muslim leaders whose countries preach death to homosexuals are welcomed by politicians, but footballers who post an opinion on Instagram are sacked and viciously attacked. Other footballers are not fired for domestic abuse, gang raping girls or drunken rampages, but one is fired for having an opinion! It’s an utter disgrace!

 

2.      MINDS

 

The second battlefield is in the minds of Australians. And the enemy is not targeting the old, the devil is targeting the minds of the young, using school, social media and peer pressure. In the minds of Australians, especially young Australians, the Church represents old fashioned, antiquated, prejudicial and offensive morality, preventing people from exercising the right to express their true selves.

 

I cannot remember a time in history where people are so easily offended. For all of our intelligence and scientific minds, we are currently so fragile and easily offended. A sign of maturity is the ability to not be easily offended, and to respond in a measured way, but look at the explosions, accusations and rants on social media. Not only do people’s opinions change every 5 minutes, but they will defend said opinions to the death, even if it doesn’t affect them! How strange the modern Australian mind is, but remember our fight is not against these people we differ with, it is against the spirit of the age behind it.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

We will look in a separate message at the battlefield of the mind, but with record levels of mental health problems, constantly changing opinions and infinite offences being taken, the minds of Australians represent a massive area in the battle between good and evil in our society.

 

3.      ME-ISM

 

This could be the most selfish, self absorbed generation in history. This is the age of the selfie, and never before have so many photos been taken of so many people doing so little!

 

2 Timothy 3:1-4 (ESV Strong's)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

 

Why do we have family breakdowns? Why do we have abuse? Why do we have broken lives? Because at the heart of it, people are selfish. They want what they want over and above anyone else. And what’s more, they believe their opinion is superior to anyone else’s, so they fight and claw to destroy anyone whose opinion is different… look at Israel Folau.

 

4.      MISSION

 

The forces for evil in our society clearly have an agenda, a strategy that they are working to destroy the church. Australians were told that same sex marriage was the end in itself for that lobby group, but clearly it was only the opening salvo… trangenderism, abortion, euthanasia, and who knows what follows hot on its heels.

 

Proverbs 28:12 (ESV Strong's)

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.

 

The overall strategy and agenda for these lobby groups is moral anarchy,  not just in one area but across the board, where in the name of freedom everyone is allowed to do whatever they want and God’s rule, the laws upon which our society stands, is relegated to a bygone era.

 

Judges 21:25 (ESV Strong's)

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

 

If you read the book of Judges you will see the result of this… moral and social destruction on a scale rarely seen. Edmund Burke, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

 

5.      MEDIA

 

A great strategic battlefield where the enemy is triumphing right now is the media.  While social media has become a cesspool of human emotions, opinions and aggressive attacks on anyone who differs in any way on any subject, especially morality, main stream media is totally dominated by evil agenda and anti Christian sentiment.

 

Last year I was crowned Qld Father of the Year, and rushed out to a waiting media contingent. I was interviewed by all TV stations, radio and print, and I spoke about how being a father is loving your children unconditionally, just like God loves us. The early edition on channel 7 went straight to air with my comments in tack, but the later editions sliced all references to God out of the coverage. Channel 9 heard what I said, and decided on the fly that instead of interviewing me their reporter will speak and I will just be in the background. Clearly anti Christian bias, that is evidenced everywhere!

 

This should not surprise us…

 

2 Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

Sure, the media and polls got it wrong on Election Day, but interestingly in the aftermath they are all scratching their heads wondering if it was economics or climate change where Labor policies came undone. I know, and you know, that the silent majority of people who love righteousness was the force behind their defeat, but in their minds they simply cannot see it.

 

The media is very powerful, but after last Saturday we can see it is not all powerful.. God is!

 

But they keep plugging away, and this is a battle of attrition… they are trying to wear us down. Don’t you wonder why according to statistics <3% of America is homosexual, yet 100% of American TV shows feature at least one homosexual, always in a positive way. Yet according to a 2017 Gallop survey, 71.2% identify as Christian, Catholic and Protestant, but they rarely if ever appear in TV shows, and almost always are portrayed as negative.

 

In movies, TV, music, social media and print, Christians are the most persecuted group, and even though the enemy is winning on this battlefield, he ain’t letting up any time soon. Listen, a setback is just a set up for a come back, and it’s time we started fighting back like we did last Saturday!

 

6.      MONEY

 

We are going to look at money in a separate message, and you are not going to want to miss that Sunday.  I’m going to pull back the curtain and reveal the spirit behind money and how you can start to fight and win in your personal finances, your investments and your giving.

 

1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV Strong's)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

 

Money is not evil, but the spirit behind it, the love of money is a constant source of evil in not only our lives, but in and throughout our society.

IT’S TIME TO FIGHT BACK!

 

So these are just some of the battlefields within our society. There are more, but these are some of the bigger ones. We’ve had an arial view of the battlefield, so let’s look at how we can fight back.

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

They attack us with hate, they attack us with what looks like overwhelming criticism and aggression, but we cannot win our nation by hating them more than they hate us! So what are our strategies to fight back on the battlefield of society and morality?

 

1.      PRAYER

 

If the election taught Christians one thing it surely was that corporate prayer is powerful. I cannot recall an election so keenly prayed over in this nation, and the come from behind, against all odds result is evidence of that.

 

James 5:16-18 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

For too long the prayers of believers have been lifeless, selfish shopping lists, lacking zeal, lacking power and lacking results. But now is not a time for selfishness, it is a time for selflessness, starting in the prayer closet. As Moody said, “Most prayers should be cut short at either end and set on fire in the middle!”

 

As a church, as individuals, as families, it’s time to commit ourselves to praying. Pray for everything, your homes, your businesses, your own hearts, and pray for our nation, that we might move into our destiny as the Greats Southland of the Holy Spirit.

 

2.      GUARDING OUR MINDS AND HEARTS

 

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV-WS)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

 

We are at risk in this battle of a fifth column, a subversive element entering the church and turning our hearts away from the truths of God’s Word. The voice of compromise is everywhere, and the media tell us that we either compromise and accept their agenda, or we are hypocritical, racial, sexist, fundamentalist, hate speech sprouting bigots. That’s the choice they offer!

 

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 we need to make sure we know God’s standards, and stick to them, without compromise. If we bend, if we water down truth, we lose and the enemy gains ground. So my strong advice is to keep your heart and mind pure…

 

Romans 16:19 (ESV Strong's)

I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

 

3.      FILLING OUR MINDS WITH PURE THINGS

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

If we are corrupted we cannot possibly hope to stem the flow of corruption in our nation. Therefore, we have to be careful about what we allow into our minds, especially with such a biased, anti Christian media and social media. Let me put it this way… if your mind is filled with the things of God, you cannot fit evil in there. This is why you need to come to church, and you need to read His Word every day. Do our reading plan and watch your thought life change and be secure.

 

The Word reveals God’s mind, so we should learn it; God’s heart, so we should love it; and God’s will, so we should live it. Our whole being—mind, will, and heart—should be controlled by the Word of God.

 

4.      UNITY

 

The devil, knows if he can divide us, he can defeat us. Jesus told him that in Matthew…

 

Matthew 12:25 (ESV Strong's)

Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

 

Frankly, the enemy is doing a great job implementing this battle strategy. While Christians argue about doctrine, worship styles, tongues, prophecy, methods of evangelism, dunking vs sprinkling and a whole lot more we are powerless on the battlefield for Jesus.  Paul addressed the church at Corinth, who had descended so far as to actually suing each other, in this way…

 

1 Corinthians 6:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

 

Psalm 133 talks about unity, “for there the Lord bestows a blessing even life forevermore.” Any time your doctrine, your belief, your firm conviction, or your opinion exceeds your love for your brother, we are going to have disunity.

 

Ignite is a church in unity, and I will not forsake unity for the pet doctrines and opinions some people have. I know some of you don’t want tongues or prophecy, and I know some of you want tongues and prophecy publicly in every service. I know some want me to preach through books of the Bible, and others prefer topical. Let me say I appreciate that in these things you prefer your brothers and love them more than your doctrine or opinion. That’s unity.

 

Unity doesn’t mean we see eye to eye on everything, but it does mean we can walk hand in hand. And the great strength of Ignite is unity, and we must not forsake this even if we truly believe we are right on an area of doctrine or style of worship. Better to be wronged than to cause offence and disunity.

 

5.      LOVE

 

Our superpower as we stand for Jesus in this battle for the hearts and minds of our society is LOVE!

 

We can pray, we can stand for righteousness, we can be in unity, but without love we are nothing, a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Jesus sets the bar high when it comes to loving others…

 

Matthew 5:43-44 (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,

 

And they are persecuting us. I’ve never seen such anti Christian sentiment in the media and on social media, but you cannot win people to Christ by hating them more than they hate you. Only love will win people to Jesus.

 

Love doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, with the perversion, with the wickedness, with the unbiblical teaching. But you can disagree and still love them. The media says if you love the, you will give them what they demand, but I love my kids, and they never got everything they wanted. Love is not giving in to people, love is accepting and treating them with honour, even if we disagree with them.

 

IT’S TIME TO SHINE

 

We can win this battle, in the power of Jesus, and in His love, and our nation needs us to shine like never before, and if you leave the city lights for the country, you will recognise that the stars shine brightest when it is darkest. Notice that it starts with unity…

 

Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

We have to love our people, agree with them or not, attacked by the, or not, we have to love. Because Christ loves us.

 

Yes we have difficult fights ahead on the battlefield of our society, but we need to see ours lives as voters, not victim. Let’s pledge to stand in love and unity. I am going to ask you to make this practical commitment with me today… Will you

 

  1. Commit to getting closer to God by reading His Word daily
  2. Commit to standing up for righteousness, but loving unconditionally those who persecute you, no matter how vile or venomous the slander.
  3. Commit to standing with us in unity in this church, as we reach our community for Jesus.
Spiritual Battlefield 1- Introduction

Spiritual Battlefield 1- Introduction

May 19, 2019

We all face a Spiritual battlefield which is real, but most Christians fail to see them.

Once visiting the Belgian town of Mons I asked my American friend if there were any 1st World War battlefields close by. He said he’d lived there for 2 years and there were no battlefield or graveyards from the war. I walked 5 houses down to the end of the street and there was countless graves from the battles of Mons. They are there, but my American friend never recognised them!

 

Our PM said overnight that he’s always believed in miracles, but regardless of the results of this election, Australian Christians should be under no illusion about our future. If the last year or so has taught us anything, it has shown us that we are facing, and more than any other time in our history, a Spiritual battlefield, we are battling for hearts and minds and even souls of our country.

 

So rather than sail along and ignore what we face as a church in this nation, I want to preach about it. We can get down, we can get fearful, but I’m going to get real and get mobilised as we face the enemy. And we do face a fearful enemy, but

 

1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Over the coming weeks, we are going to talk about key battlefields in our lives, like the heart and mind, homes, families and even church. The enemy is active in all these areas, and I’m believing that these messages can be like a reconnaissance mission, to understand we can fight effectively and win.

SPIRITUAL BATTLEFIELD... THE UNSEEN ENEMY, AN UNSEEN ALLY

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

Our enemy is not the government, it’s not people, it’s not gays or socialists or drug dealers, our real enemy is the devil. Our battle is not against what we can see, against people who oppose God but against an unseen, far deadlier opponents. Elisha faced a huge army coming to capture him in 2 Kings 6…

 

2 Kings 6:15-19 (ESV Strong's)

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

 

In this story, the young man could not see beyond the physical world in which we live, just like almost everyone today in our nation.  We might be Christians, we might say the battle is not against flesh and blood, but honestly, we don’t really get it… we don’t see this realm, this Spiritual battlefield.

 

Yet an unseen Spiritual battlefield realm exists–a world every bit as real as what we can see, hear and feel in the physical world. It consists of a countless multitude of ministering angels who are active in the lives of God’s people (Ge 32:2; Isa 63:9). It also includes demons who battle against angels and are trying to destroy us, or at least ruin our relationship with God.

 

You cannot see or touch this enemy, but he is there. You cannot sense the presence of angels, but I have a feeling we encounter them more frequently than we realise as they protect us…

 

Psalm 34:7 (ESV Strong's)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

 

My mum and dad we’re in a car accident years ago on a remote stretch of road. Once the car came to a stop, they knew serious damage had been done, and out of nowhere a woman appeared claiming to be a nurse, and she reached through the broken car window and held my father’s head straight until ambulances arrived. Turns out his neck was broken, and this mysterious lady saved his life. However, not of the paramedics saw a woman, and we never learned her name, or why she was randomly on that stretch of road. You might call it coincidence, but after much reflection, we believe this mystery woman who save dad’s life was in fact an angel.

 

THE UNSEEN INFLUENCE

 

We are obsessed with earthly things, but the Bible encourages us to look beyond what we see to see a Spiritual battlefield…

 

2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

The heavenly realms fight to influence us in the Spiritual battlefield, and there is a spiritual battleground all around us. Books like Daniel or Revelation should show us that this world exists, and that it is fighting for influence. Demons are real, and they seek to destroy the bodies, the minds and the souls of people. Angels are real and they fight for us. But please realise that this battle is not on a knife edge… I know who wins!

 

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

And being found in human form (Jesus), 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.

 

We should be aware, but not obsessed by this unseen world of the Spiritual battlefield and it’s influences. Our prayers, as we have seen overnight, can reach into this world and mobilise forces beyond our understanding.

 

WHAT WE SEE ISN’T WHAT WE GET

 

The young man with Elisha could not see what the prophet saw. But just one prayer opened the spiritual eyes of the servant, and what he saw stunned him! God’s power and influence is immense in this Spiritual battlefield.

 

Every believer should have an awareness of the spiritual battle that rages around us. Most modern Christians have no concept of this spiritual conflict at all, because our western, scientific minds exclude what we cannot measure or see, and so we think it does not exist. I can claim gravity doesn’t exist, but if I step off a cliff, regardless of what I believe or can see, I’m going to experience the consequences of my choice.

 

Psalms 119:18 (ESV Strong's)

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

 

Elisha did not pray that his servant would stop seeing the enemy; he prayed that he would start seeing the goodness and provision of the Lord. Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what He sees. Elisha understood this and learned to look beyond his own limited perspective to the Lord’s reality. And because of his faith, God showed Elisha amazing things and did miracles through him.

 

Hebrews 1:14 (ESV Strong's)

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

 

So when we face spiritual forces unseen. When we face life’s troubles, how can we begin to see the provision of the Lord all around us instead of the giant we seem to be facing? Well, when I think giants, I think David and Goliath, and I think of victory against all physical odds!

 

THE BIGGER THEY ARE THE HARDER THEY FALL

 

David faced a seemingly insurmountable task… a giant that the army of Israel had fled from, that he faced as one, scrawny kid. All the polls predicted a Goliath win.

 

Elisha saw what the young man did not, and through faith, David saw what his countrymen did not.

 

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV Strong's)

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

 

In times of extreme pressure, God stretches our faith and deepens our dependence on Him. Without a strong, abiding faith, we can quickly yield to temptation and fear, especially when the trial or difficulty is intense or prolonged. God developed David’s trust until it became unshakable.

Whatever Goliath you face today, you need to bury one truth deep within your heart:

 

God loves you, He is on your side and He wins the battle every time!  You may go through times of failure. Life may not always turn out the way you planned—but ultimately, God will be glorified, and you will be blessed. When you trust Him, when you open your eyes to see the true spiritual battle, when you train yourself to see beyond the physical world into the eternal, you will live differently and keep battling!

 

So how were David and Elisha able to see beyond their giants, and how can we?

 

1.      RECOGNISE THE TRUE BATTLE

 

So often when we face difficulties and giants, we concentrate on the people attacking us rather than on the true nature of the battle.

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

David did not see just Goliath on his Spiritual battlefield, he saw God’s enemy. Elisha didn’t just see the Syrian army, he saw the heavenly army ready to battle.  When someone attacks us, don’t concentrate on the person and hate them. Recognise the spirit that is behind the attack. We need to look behind any political party making immoral decisions, beyond any person making our lives miserable and see the devil battling to destroy our nation, our homes and our future.

 

This is why prayer is so effective, because prayer battles in the heavenlies, it does not just deal with the here and now, the people, the sins and the attacks. See eternity, and see things God’s way!

 

 

2.      RECALL PAST VICTORIES

 

David recalled how God had delivered him from the paw of the lion and the grasp of the bear (1 Samuel 17:32–37). You first win spiritual victories in your mind. If you cave into feelings of fear and doubt, you will lose. When you focus on the truth of God’s Word, you win every time. If you want victories in a Spiritual battlefield you face, remember how God has given you victories in the past, and know He can do it again.

 

We are facing the prospect of moving our church to bigger and better premises. The dollars involved are terrifying, but when I recall how God moved amazingly to provide for us to gain this property, I see that His unseen forces are working on our behalf, and my fear is overcome.

 

3.      REJECT DISCOURAGING WORDS

 

The young man with Elisha spoke words of fear and defeat. No one in the Israelite camp encouraged David in his quest to defeat Goliath. The soldiers laughed at him. His brothers felt embarrassed by his presence and urged him to go home. Even King Saul doubted him. If David had listened to the advice of others, he would have given up. If Elisha had listened to the young man, he would have been plunged into captivity or even death.

 

But they both turned their hearts towards the Lord and there they found the encouragement they needed.

 

People often say horrible things, even if they don’t mean to be mean, but their words cut us to the quick. As a pastor, I’m often criticised, and it always hurts. But I need to make the choice to give the hurt to the Lord  and keep doing what I know He has called me to do.

I recently had a pastor ask me what’s the difference between a politician and a pastor. If 51% like the politician he calls it a victory. If 99% like a pastor, he wonders why the 1% don’t like him!

 

Often you are criticised by people who should be encouraging you. Look at Peter…

 

Acts 11:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

 

Gentiles had come to Christ, and the big criticism was not from unbelievers but from Jewish believers! If you face discouraging words, even from believers, your family or friends, you can choose to see the spiritual battle driving those words, and reject the words, not the people.

 

 

4.      RESPOND WITH GOD’S WORD

 

Elisha said to the young man who was full of fear,

 

2 Kings 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

 

David was constantly told he could not beat the giant, but he responded…

 

1 Samuel 17:37 (ESV Strong's)

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

 

Hebrews 13:6 (ESV Strong's)

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

 

And it is not enough to just speak positively, you need to live trusting the Lord in every way. When you face attack or some other giant, we are tempted to worry. Worry is a sin, so confess it and give it to God and trust Him by faith that He will protect and guide you…

 

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.

 

Jesus faced incredible attack and pressure in His Spiritual battlefield from the devil himself in Matthew 4, and Jesus didn’t try and argue or drum up positive words. He answered using Scripture, and so should we, that’s why I want you all to be reading the Bible every day. Read it, learn it, study it, memorise it!

 

5.      RELY ON GOD’S POWER

 

2 Kings 6:18 (ESV Strong's)

And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.

 

David went out to Goliath with a sling shot, 5 stones and an attitude! In front of Goliath he said,

 

1 Samuel 17:47 (ESV Strong's)

and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”

 

You can’t win a battle with the devil on your own. But thanks be to God, we don’t face him alone, we face him with Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, and the power of His Spirit can triumph over the evil one! Stand and fight on your knees and see the victory God will bring upon the situation in this Spiritual battlefield.

 

 

6.      RECKON ON THE VICTORY

 

Elisha saw an army struck with blindness. David saw a giant losing his head, and even before he stepped onto the battlefield, David knew he wasn’t going to lose. He knew it wasn’t his reputation on the line, but God’s. He knew it wasn’t his strength or cunning that would win the battle, but God’s strength and wisdom.

 

1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong's)

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

 

We face a Spiritual battlefield in our nation. We face battlefields every day in our families, our homes, our minds, our finances, and our churches, and over the next few weeks I want to target these battlefields and prove to you that victory is possible because God is on our side… But the real battle is not against people, even people who seem to hate us, but it’s against spiritual forces and powers in this Spiritual battlefield.

 

ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?

 

Try and make church every week, because over the coming weeks I’m going to centre in on areas where the battlefield is fiercest in our lives… the family, finances, our nation and morals and even in the church.  Make no mistake, Christians are under attack in this Spiritual battlefield across the board more than ever before in this nation, and I for one am not going to bow my knee to the frauds of the enemy.

 

Today, if you feel like you are under attack, then I want you to make a stand. Some of what you face might be natural, it might be selfish people or bad decisions, but much of what you face could be driven by the enemy, demonic forces arrayed against you. You can’t see them, but they are there, and like Elisha, I want you to open your eyes to see the incredible army of God lined up on your side!

 

There are demonic spirits, evil powers and principalities that come against you, whether you see them or not, whether you believe in them or not. But I refuse to concentrate on them when there are myriads of angelic servants to protect, guide and direct our lives for us. They are watching, ready to step in, but they will not force you to act as God wants. You always have a choice in this Spiritual battlefield, but when you choose righteousness, when you choose obedience, when you pray in faith and obedience, they act on your behalf…

 

Psalms 55:18 (ESV Strong's)

He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.

 

If you feel like many things are arrayed against you, it’s time to reveal the enemy for the fraud he is and recognise the power of the Lord of Hosts.  We face seemingly insurmountable forces against us in our lives, our families and our church, but I for one will stand up and fight because I’ve read the Book and I know who wins!

 

Today, if you feel you are facing a Spiritual battlefield and demonic opposition in an area of your life, I want you to stand. I am standing, because I often feel a hopelessness about life, business, family and our church, but I am standing and committing to fight, not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark work in this Spiritual battlefield. And I’m going to win!

Super Mum on Mother’s day

Super Mum on Mother’s day

May 12, 2019

Being a mum is the most underrated, underpaid and overtaxing job on the planet, and so today I do not want to just celebrate motherhood, I want to crown each of you mums as what you are… Super-mums!

 

Mums become super-mums not by being born on the planet krypton, not by being able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. They become super-mums by the things they say and the things they do. So to start today’s super proceedings, let’s hear some of our mum’s super wisdom…

 

MUM’S SUPER WORDS OF WISDOM

 

Silence is golden, unless you have kids, then it’s suspicious!

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

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

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

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

Behind every mum is a basket of dirty laundry

My house isn’t messy, it’s custom designed by a 2 year old

By the time a woman realises her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong.

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

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

A MUM’S SUPER POWER

 

Everybody knows that a super mum’s super power is love, her undying, unconditional love. And this love generates a second super power… faith. If you look at Hebrews 11, the great chapter listing the heroes of the Bible, they are heroes because of their faith. Faith fuelled by love  causes super mum’s to do extraordinary things, to believe in you even when you fail, and to never stop believing in or wanting the best for you.

 

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

But today I want to show you one mother’s super power, recorded in Matthew 15, where the faith of a Canaanite woman saved and set her daughter free from demonic oppression.

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

Matthew 15:21-28

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

Today, super mum’s, I want to concentrate on developing this superpower of faith for the salvation of your children. I want to talk about developing your super power to reach a wayward husband, or child, or someone else you care about, with the love of God and the faith of a super mum.

We see in this story that the woman had plenty of obstacles, but she stood in the gap for her child. As I share around this passage, take a moment to think about someone you know in your family that isn't walking with the Lord…

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH MADE HER TAKE A CHANCE

 

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

She could have stopped, she could have said, “ok, fair enough, I’m a dog,” she could have given up even before she started… oh, it's all too hard!

But hey, it was her daughter we're talking about here. She decided not to give up on her child, and neither should you! She decided to take a chance, a chance to set her beloved child free!

And sometimes we look at people we love who are not walking with the Lord and it all seems too hard! They're doing things we don't approve of, they're making bad decisions, and we can see the consequences of their decisions barrelling down the line towards them,  but they won’t listen. They’re breaking our hearts. They might even been attacking us or pulling away from us!

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH ASKED THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

 

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

Sometimes even just a look will suffice. I remember being caught doing things as a kid, and mum didn't even have to say anything, she'd just look, and I'd know she knew. Mums do that! Maybe the evil eye is another superpower… she can stop evil or curdle milk with just one look!

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

So this Canaanite mum called out to God and asked the question…

Matthew 15:22

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

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

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH SUFFERED ATTACK

 

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

Matthew 15:23-24

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

The disciples didn't want her around, and she may have even thought Jesus wanted her gone. But she stayed! How many of you have a mother who stays long and doesn’t go. They love us, so they often stick around, despite opposition.

Super mum’s, when you face attack, react like this mother of faith did! He came and she said…

Matthew 15:25

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

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

And remember, motherhood is a tough job, and you face opposition all the time. If you want to be great, if you want to influence others, get ready for somebody to attack you!

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH WAS TESTED WITHOUT OFFENCE

 

Jesus then decided to probe her faith. Mums, your faith will be tested!

Matthew 15:26

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

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

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

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

One of the great tragedies I see over and over again is mum’s being hurt and taking offence. Super mum’s, listen to me, you need to not take offence at anything your kids say or do, even if you hate what they do! Use your superpowers to love them, pray for them, believe for them and claim them for Jesus. I'd rather be offended and see my kids saved than feel justified and have them silent and distant!

So often we believe things so strongly, so vehemently, that we drive away and offend others. As I often say, if you love people more than you love your pet doctrine, opinion of belief we will have unity. But if you value your opinion over people, we will have disunity, conflict and separation!

If they do something you don’t approve of, you need to love them unconditionally. If you stand so aggressively for what you believe and drive them away, you may never get them back. We’ve said to our kids, we may not approve of the decision you’ve made, but we will never stop loving and accepting you. We will never stop praying and believing for you… that’s our super power!

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH PERSISTED

 

This mum could have taken offence, and crawled away insulted that Jesus spoke that way. But because her superpower was faith, she saw the big picture, she saw eternity rather than what was going on around her, and she decided to persist!

Matthew 15:27

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

In these few words this super mum was humbling herself for the sake of her daughter. She persisted and believe the best because she loved her child more than her pet beliefs, her doctrine, her reputation or her own personal interests. This super mum wanted to see her child set free at any cost!

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

Some of you mums here have prayed for years for your kids, and seen little result. Sometimes it seems so discouraging because they never seem to change, even into adulthood. Maybe they're lost in a bad relationship or substance abuse, maybe they are good people but they've crowded God out of their lives and have no time for Him. Whatever they’ve done, whatever they are doing, don’t give up on them, don’t give in to despair, because your super power is Holy Spirit powered faith!

You can’t ultimately win someone to Jesus, no matter how strong or persistent you are. The Holy Spirit wins their hearts, not you. You can’t nag a wayward child or husband or friend or anyone else into the Kingdom. But, you can pray, and trust the Lord to use your super powered faith to bring your kids to Him!

Ephesians 2:8-9

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

Christian mums here today, you know that it’s the anointing that breaks the yoke (Isaiah 10:27), and for many of you this truth leads you to pray for your wayward kids or spouses, whether they are successful corporate CEOs or cellar dwelling drug addicts. I want to urge you today to keep praying.

Your super power is the faith God stirs up in your heart, and the closer you are to God, the greater this faith within you. So read His Word, pray, come to church, to Bible study, listen to worship music, and never, never give up on your kids, grandkids and even husbands or exes. I can't change them, you can't change them, but God can. You must persist, and have super mum faith.

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH WAS REWARDED

 

Jesus was so delighted with this super mum’s faith when she persisted, He commended her!

Matthew 15:28

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

Jesus commended her for her great faith. While the unbelieving children, the Jews, had no hunger for the bread, here was a self-confessed “doggie” crying out for it. This super mum’s super faith was rewarded; her daughter was healed instantly. Interestingly Jesus never complimented the religious leaders or the disciples saying “Great is your faith”, only a gentile, despised woman.

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

On Mother’s Day, we are going to pray for your children and grandchildren. If you are a in church today just to make your mum happy, why not really make her dreams come true and her prayers be answered by asking Jesus into your heart right now.

 

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

 

Mum’s, today you might have got breakfast in bed, or lovely presents, something cute or special. Those gifts are precious, but they don’t last into eternity.

The greatest gift you could give your mum this Mother’s Day is to give your life to Jesus. She’s been praying for you, she’s been using her superpowers of faith and love because she wants you to join her in heaven. God gave us the greatest gift of His Son to bring us back to Him. This gift is free, it’s a gift, and it is here for you today, and will bless her on this special day.

In a moment, I'm going to ask all the mums to stand and come forward and let us pray for your wayward children, grandchildren or even husbands. Let's join our faith together and believe for God to reward your super power of faith today! We’ve been praying a lot for our nation at this time, but it’s time we prayed for our children and families.

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

If you have other loved ones, husbands, wives, parents, let’s pray for their salvation too.

From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

May 6, 2019

“From Here to Eternity” was a film starring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and Montgomery Cliff which won 8 Academy Awards in 1954, but long before then and ever since then eternity is a subject we rarely speak about, but constantly think about. The Bible says…

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV Strong's)

he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

 

If we truly concentrated on eternity, the way we live our life would change!

MR ETERNITY

 

Arthur Stace was a returned soldier from WW1, a down and out, illiterate alcoholic who became a Christian in 1930 and wondered what he could do for God. 2 years later he heard evangelist John G Ridley preach, "Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You've got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?"

 

From that point on, Mr Stace left for work at 5 am every day, and wrote several times the word eternity on the footpaths of the city, and over 35 years he is estimated to have written Eternity some 500,000 times, narrowly avoiding arrest 24 times. Thousands were stirred by this single word, and thousands came to Christ, even though Arthur never led anyone to Jesus himself. Years later Sydney honoured this humble man by plastering the word Eternity in his famous copperplate script on the Harbour Bridge in 2000, and at the Sydney Olympics.

 

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV Strong's)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

 

As believers, we say we believe in eternity, in Heaven and hell, but frankly we don’t live like it! A simple, humble man like Arthur Stace can remind us that what we see today, right here, is just a fraction of eternity!

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HERE AND ETERNITY

 

We look at this world… houses, cars, mountains, sea, friends, family… they seem so real, they seem so tangible and permanent, but the Bible cautions us against focussing in temporal things…

 

1 Corinthians 15:53-55 (ESV Strong's)

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

 

This world seems so real, but it lacks longevity. We’re all going to die and it’s all going to burn, folks! Like the flowers of the field, it is here today, but gone tomorrow, and despite that fact that we know this world is temporary, we build our entire lives upon this shifting sand!

 

Paul did not downplay the existence or importance of the temporal or physical world, unlike Greek philosophers. He acknowledged it, lived in it and wanted to maximise it for Christ. However, he did not focus on it, for his focus was far higher than the physical.

 

ETERNAL FOCUS

 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

The Greek word for look to is SCOPEO, which means, “to focus one’s eyes or attention on, to set a goal or end.” It talks about not focusing on the temporal, the light and momentary affliction which is the pain and heartache we go through in life, but to focus in the “eternal weight of glory.”

 

The image here is of an old scale, with our daily troubles and afflictions on one side, and the eternal glory, the forever rewards we will receive on the other. Our current pain and suffering may seem heavy right now, but when you put them in the scale, they seem light because the eternal glory far exceeds anything we can go through while on earth!

 

So the question is not whether you will suffer in your life, because clearly you will. The question is simply this… what will you decide to focus on?

 

WHAT LASTS FOREVER?

 

A comedian once said, “I’m going to live forever… so far, so good.” But what really lasts forever?

 

The things of this world seem so real because we can see them and feel them; but they are all temporal and destined to pass away. But how can you possibly begin to see the intangible, the eternal that seems invisible? The answer? Faith…

 

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV Strong's)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

We need eyes of faith to see that which our natural eyes cannot see, yet which is far more real and eternal that what our physical eyes see. So how can we focus on the eternal? By seeing through faith the things that are eternal. And what actually is eternal? The  Bible says only 3 things…

 

1.      GOD

 

God Himself is eternal. Therefore, His love for you is eternal…

 

Psalms 90:2 (ESV Strong's)

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalms 103:17 (ESV Strong's)

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

 

The Hebrew word for eternal is OLAM, which means without beginning or end, and comes from the word meaning concealed… so far back or forward and point is impossible to see.

 

2.      GOD’S WORD

 

Isaiah 40:8 (ESV Strong's)

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

 

The Bible is the Word of God, truth from cover to cover, and it will stand forever! That why I want you to do our reading plan, because this is God’s Word, and like God, it is eternal.  Put this into your heart, and you will begin to have an eternal perspective to live in this temporary world!

 

3.      THE SOULS OF MEN AND WOMEN

 

Make no mistake, the souls of men and women live for eternity. God has placed eternity in the hearts of men, and He has made a way that we can also live with Him for eternity, or not.

 

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

I’m not going to sugar coat this… all people, from Scott Morrison to Donald Trump, to you and I to a beggar on the streets of Delhi, every one of us faces eternity. You might say you don’t believe in eternity, but your opinion, whether you believe or not, matters little to God. He not asking your opinion. Whether you believe or not, Eternity exists, and you are part of it. The only question is, “where will you spend it?”

 

HEAVEN OR HELL… YOUR CHOICES CHOSE FOR YOU

 

No one in their right mind would choose hell, a place of eternal torment, over heaven, eternity with God.  But you don’t get to choose where you will spend eternity, God does and He will judge everyone. You DO get to choose how you live your life, and the choices you make in your life, those choices choose what you face in eternity. You might not choose to go to hell, but by choosing to ignore God’s free gift of eternal life, you choose by default, and you sign your own death warrant!

 

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

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

 

There are 2 ways to heaven… 1. Never sin, never tell a lie. Never be selfish, never have an evil thought, never hurt anyone. Clearly, none of us can get to heaven that way, because…

 

Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The second way, in fact only way, is to allow Jesus to take the punishment for your sins, and accept the free gift He offers you. You can have eternity with God in heaven, because…

 

Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

There will be many one day who will be sent to a lost eternity without Jesus Christ in hell. It’s the broad road that leads to destruction. And when this happens, as is man’s way, they will try and blame God instead of their own foolish decisions…

 

Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong's)

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

 

Listen, don’t blame God, what more can God do? He has given the best of heaven in His own Son. If you reject His provision for you, if you say no to Jesus today, get ready for an eternity of torment and anguish in hell, no matter how nice or kind you think you are, your niceness won’t save you… you’ll be the nicest guy in hell, that’s all!

 

HEAVEN AND HELL

 

Heaven is going to be beyond description. Look outside at the mountains, the forests, the oceans and the stars. 6 days God took to create the world, but He’s been working on heaven for 2000 years…  imagine how awesome it must be! It’s a perfect place, it’s a privileged place, it’s a prepared place! And Jesus is saying, “Come, join me in my house!”

 

John 14:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

 

Heaven is where God Himself lives, and everything that goes with Him. It’s full of light, full of joy, full of music, full of laughter and love. But hell is the opposite, the absence of all that… the Bible describes the unsaved like this…

 

2 Thessalonians 1:9 (ESV Strong's)

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

 

Some say, “I’ll be in hell with all my mates, we’ll break open a pack of cards and drink beer and have fun.” No you won’t! Hell is just the opposite of heaven… it is everything God is not. It is pain and torment, it is darkness and fear, it is loneliness and isolation. And this torment lasts forever, without hope of rescue or relief. And perhaps the greatest torment of all is remembering every time you rejected God’s offer of life.

SO, WHAT DOES ETERNITY MATTER?

 

You might be saying, “You’re trying to scare me,” and the answer is, YES I AM!

 

2 Corinthians 5:11 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, knowing the fear (KJV terror) of the Lord, we persuade others.

 

I know what’s coming, and so yes, I want to scare you by telling you the truth and letting you make a valid decision. I do this because I love you. If you were standing on the train tracks, with an oncoming train, is the loving thing just to let you get killed by the train, or to warn you and urge you to get off the tracks to safety. My love for you and the fear of God compels me to tell you truth!

 

Eternity matters, and what’s more, in the end, it’s all that matters. If most people are honest, everybody has an inkling that eternity is out there somewhere, because God placed eternity in the hearts of men. But sadly even many Christians forget about eternity and live for today, just like everyone else. In this regard, we are not only selfish and unloving towards others, but their blood will be on our hands if we don’t warn them! We might live on earth, but we rarely live in the light of eternity.

 

Ezekiel 3:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

 

Church, we need to get this… This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls, right across the earth.  Country club Christianity doesn’t cut it any more! If we truly have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and compassion, then we cannot sit idly by while our friends, family, fellow Aussies and people around the world slide into the abyss of hell! Eternity should, indeed must matter to us, more than anything else! As Keith Green sang, “The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can’t fight, coz it’s asleep in the light!”

 

Church, it’s time to wake up. It’s time to live with eternity burned onto our retinas! It’s not enough to float through life as a Christian, to just scrape through so we can get to Heaven. No, we need our hearts moved, to get more desperate about saving others, more desperate about reaching our nation, more hungry to serve Jesus. My aim in life is to get to Heaven, and take as many people as I can with me! And I can’t do this concentrating on temporal things!

 

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

 

Eternity matters, but what happens from here to eternity matters too! We have a nice church, with great fellowship and we’ve seen phenomenal growth. But it’s not enough, I want more! I don’t want a nice church, I want an ignited church! I’m praying for these seats to be filled with people desperately seeking God, and desperately seeking how to serve Him. I’m not satisfied, I want more, so should you, and there’s always more! More salvations, more baptisms, more people, more souls!

 

Some of you here turn up for church, semi regularly, and feel like you’ve made a connection to God. That’s great, welcome to the bottom rung of the spiritual ladder, but please don’t stay there! Stats tell us that people who consider themselves committed attend church once in 6 weeks!

 

I know you have a life outside of church. You work, earn money, take care of kids, watch TV. You travel away on holidays, you read good books, you have coffee with friends and life is great. But

 

Matthew 16:26 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The one gaining the world yet losing his soul has lost sight of eternity, of what is real and what really matters in life. I confess you you, sometimes that is me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed in living that I forget to live life to the full. I now in front of you as your pastor, I repent of losing sight of eternity! It’s time I got desperate, because I have limited time remaining in my life to make a difference in this sorry, sin soaked world!

 

LIFE TO THE FULL

 

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.

 

I don’t want to just live, I want to live life abundantly, I want to live my life totally for Jesus.

 

And I want the same for you. Stop right now, have a look at your life. What do you think about, what do you focus on. Money, friends, family… what? How can we cruise through life having fun while people are dying, 2 people every second, most without Christ, most going to hell!

 

If we decide to live focused on eternity, then we are going to see our lives change. Listen, our country desperately needs us to step up, and stand up for what is right and true and honourable.

 

If we are not focused on and investing in God, His Word and the souls of men and women, then I believe we are missing the point of why we are here and what’s worse, we have blood on our hands!

 

Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

We just accept what society dishes up as normal, because we are not living in the light of eternity. We can’t see eternity for the pleasures of this world, because our minds are not on eternity.

 

Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON ETERNITY TODAY

 

I believe that God is asking us as Ignite church to choose this day whom we will serve. I believe God is calling us to shift our focus, to realign our priorities, to make a difference in our nation, and around the world. He is calling us to become salt and light in a twisted and perverted generation that desperately needs hope!

 

All that remains is for you to choose. I’m choosing right now to live for eternity…

 

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, …But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

Like Isaiah, when God looks for faithful people who live focussed on eternity …

 

Isaiah 6:8 (ESV Strong's)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

 

Will you join me? I look at you and I see greatness. I look in your eyes and see into your souls, and I see incredible things God can do in and through you. All it takes is for you to say, “Here am I, send me!” Many look at a block of stone and just see a rock. But Michelangelo saw greatness within that rock, and took hammer and started chipping away. In time everyone began to see what once only the sculptor saw. I don’t care what others have said about you, I see greatness if you would allow Jesus to sculpt your life.

 

Will you join me today? Will you stand before God and covenant with Him to focus on eternity?

 

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

So whether we are at home (here on earth) or away (in eternity with Christ), we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “Oh that believers would become eternity-conscious! If we could live every moment of every day under the eye of God, if we did every act in the light of the judgment seat, if we prayed every prayer in the light of the judgment seat, if we tithed all our possessions in the light of the judgment seat, if we preachers prepared every sermon with one eye on damned humanity and the other on the judgment seat—then we would have a Holy Ghost revival that would shake this earth and that, in no time at all, would liberate millions of precious souls.”

 

Today I invite you to stand with me and commit to focusing on eternity.

Ps Keith Heale- Rising Above Mere Humanity

Ps Keith Heale- Rising Above Mere Humanity

May 6, 2019

Join Pastor Keith as he shares his heart on how you can rise above mere humanity and become everything God wants you to be in Christ

CSI Golgotha- Resurrection Sunday 2019

CSI Golgotha- Resurrection Sunday 2019

April 22, 2019

Christianity is a crutch, it’s a big fake and Christians are the biggest fools for believing something that clearly has no basis in fact… That’s what many unbelievers think about us. They think we’re deluded, they think we believe in fairy stories, so today, on Resurrection Sunday, my aim is to examine forensically the claims of Jesus’ resurrection and prove that Jesus lived, died and rose again as the Scriptures record beyond reasonable doubt!

 

A TWO THOUSAND YEAR OLD CRIME SCENE

 

The advent of modern forensic techniques have revolutionised the solving of crime, especially DNA, which can pin point an offended with overwhelming accuracy. If you watch Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, the FBI or any other collection of letters, you might be forgiven in thinking that DNA is the only way to prove a case. But even today forensic tools like circumstantial evidence, witness statements, blood, fibre, footprints, tyres and everything else are still important in proving a case in a court or law.

 

The cold case detective is a new breed, and he looks at cases without DNA or the other modern tools to solve a long past murder. Murders from 20, 40 or 50 years ago usually require special skills to solve, so this Resurrection Sunday we we will  take a cold case detective’s view of one of the greatest moments in history, and the moment upon which our faith stands… the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

 

Luke 24:4-8 (ESV Strong's)

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words,

 

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM!

 

Trying to logically analyse a crime scene from 20 centuries ago, without DNA, without photographs and without physical proof, a cold case detective needs to rely upon two sources to establish the facts… 1. Established Reports, 2. Eye witnesses.

 

REPORTS OF JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS?

 

The first question to establish is whether Jesus existed at all, and if He actually died on the cross, and what proof we have for this happening. First, let’s look at the sources of the reports we have found…

 

1.      BIBLICAL AND NON BIBLICAL TEXTS

 

Romans 15:4 (ESV Strong's)

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

 

Jesus’ death by Roman crucifixion is reported in 7 independent documents. 4 of these are secular, 3 of them are from The New Testament, the Bible. The Biblical account is from the 3 synoptic gospels which we will count as one source, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and also from the gospel of John and Paul’s epistles. The secular reports are from Jewish historian Josephus, Roman Tacitus, Mara-Bar Sarapian and Lucian Of Samosata.

 

Two of these, Tacitus and Lucian were extremely hostile toward Christianity, and have nothing to gain by reporting the death of Jesus on a cross, in fact they reported it by ridiculing it.

 

Historical analysis of these sources make it overwhelmingly probable that Jesus’ crucifixion is an actual event of history. It is statistically impossible for 7 independent sources to all make up the same story with such detail. Denial of Jesus’ crucifixion’s historicity entails that 7 sources fabricated the same lie independent of each other, and that is historically impossible. Using history and topical analysis, we can established the truth of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ beyond reasonable doubt.

 

There are 2 main methods of establishing the authenticity of ancient texts… 1. The oldest copy we have compared to the original writing date and 2. The number of manuscripts and their accuracy compared to each other. The New Testament passes both of these with flying colours, the oldest gospel we know of being John, written within 50 years of the original text (compared to the nearest account of Julius Caesar being 900 years removed from the original). And more than 15,000 copies existence of accounts of Jesus (compared to less than 50 for Julius Caesar).

 

2.      EYE WITNESSES

 

Any detective will tell you that eye witnesses are not the most reliable evidence,  but if you have several accounts lining up they can have great validity. In the gospels, we have 4 separate yet slightly different accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Misguided critics might point to slight variations in their accounts, but any cold case detective will tell you that having 4 identical accounts is only possible if the sources have directly colluded with each other.

 

John 21:24 (ESV Strong's)

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

 

Even today, if 4 people witness a crime, their testimonies will, indeed must, be slightly different, because each person sees things from their particular angle. If the stories are identical, the detective knows they have been talking to each other and “getting their stories straight.”

 

So Biblical accounts, all slightly different because they are from people who saw the same event from their own perspective, married with external historical accounts mean that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is absolutely supported historically beyond reasonable doubt.

 

The Biblical texts describe the crucifixion in detail, and includes many details we can corroborate with other ancients texts which describe this process of execution. Even our English word for unbelievable, off the scale pain is excruciating, based on the Latin word for crucifixion.

 

THEORIES ABOUT CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

 

So we have established beyond reasonable doubt that the event of Jesus’ crucifixion happened, but let’s ask the question… was He resurrected? The Bible says that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and if you ask Him into your life today, your sin can be forgiven and you will receive eternal life in heaven with Him. But believers know that when Jesus was raised again to life, that is proof to all of us of the eternal life He promised, and it also unlocks His power to help us  live a life of victory. Christianity, my faith and your faith, hangs on the resurrection. As Paul says,

 

1 Corinthians 15:14,19 (ESV Strong's)

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 

So establishing the validity of the resurrection is the core of Christianity, and the great thing is we can actually prove that Jesus was raised from the dead beyond any reasonable doubt.  

 

Sherlock Holmes said, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” So let’s examine and knock out alternative theories of the resurrection…

 

THEORY 1: THE DISCIPLES STOLE JESUS’ BODY

 

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV Strong's)

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

 

How probable is it that the disciples stole His body? Think about the facts we know… these scared men who had abandoned Jesus and denied Him just days earlier, roofied the wine the Romans soldiers guarding the tomb were drinking, and silently snuck past them as they slept. They then silently rolled back the stone covering Jesus’ grave, which was 4-6 feet in diameter, weighing 1.5-2 tons and was in a groove which made it easier to roll into place, and almost impossible to roll back. They then stole the body, snuck back past the guard and disappeared into the night.

 

This theory is beyond ridiculous, and totally unsupported by all known facts. The disciples were terrified, not courageous. A Roman guard would never drink on duty. We know from Acts 16:27 and Acts 27:42 that the penalty for losing a prisoner, even a dead one, was execution for the guards, not an all expenses paid holiday, so this theory is impossible to plausibly believe.

 

THEORY 2: JESUS SWOONED AND REVIVED

 

This theory suggests that Jesus did not really die in the cross but fainted or swooned, revived in the cool of the tomb and let Himself out. The problems with this theory are as follows…

 

1.      ROMANS KNEW HOW TO EXECUTE

 

Roman soldiers were experts in death. The likelihood that they misinterpreted a swoon or fainting for an actual death is a huge leap. They were trained in how to kill, and pretty much knew when the job was done.  The centurion saw Him die, and was impressed…

 

Mark 15:39 (ESV Strong's)

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 

2.      CONCLUSIVE MEDICAL  PROOF OF DEATH

 

John 19:34 (ESV Strong's)

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

 

At the crucifixion, the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the 2 thieves on either side of Jesus to hasten death by asphyxiation, but did not do this to Jesus (John 19:36), because they recognised He was already dead. Now, to confirm this, they thrust a spear into His side, causing a flow of blood and water.

 

This medical phenomenon is called pericardial effusion, and it occurs when the heart is so distressed it builds up fluid in the pericardial sack around the heart. The presence of both blood and water, not to mention having a spear thrust into your heart, positively confirms death, and cannot be construed as fainting.

 

3.      COULD JESUS HAVE REVIVED IN THE TOMB?

 

This theory goes on to suggest that Jesus only swooned, did not actually die, revived in the cool of the tomb, stripped off the tightly wound grave clothes, moved the 2 ton stone by Himself in His weakened condition, snuck past the guards and made off into the night.

 

Clearly this is absurd and impossible for any reasonable thinker to believe, and it cannot be proven on any level. If it takes 2 strong, healthy men to roll the stone into place, it would have to be roll uphill against the groove to be opened. Unless he is Superman, one half dead man has no hope of moving that stone, or even escaping the grave clothes, let alone being able to overpower trained Roman guards. Ludicrous!

 

THEORY 3: JESUS ACTUALLY DIED AND WAS RESURRECTED

 

We saw before, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Therefore, the only plausible theory that fits the known facts is that Jesus truly died, was buried in a fresh tomb, and then supernaturally resurrected.

 

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,

 

This theory is supported by everything we know about Roman execution, by what medical people tell us concerning such a death, and it is supported by all known historical facts, including the weight of the stone, the Roman seal (and by the way, no one breaks a Roman seal under pain of death), and the actions of the guards. Quite simply, they wouldn’t fall asleep, and if they had, their reward would not be a holiday and a hush up, it would be their own execution.

 

But wait, there’s more…

 

POST MORTEM APPEARANCES

 

The Bible talks about many appearances Jesus made after His resurrection. He appeared to individuals, His disciples, several women, the ones walking to Emmaus, and up to 500 people at once, on at least 12 recorded occasions in Scripture. Paul writes,

 

1 Corinthians 15:6 (ESV Strong's)

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep..

 

Here’s the thing… the writers could not fabricate or twist the events of the resurrection for their own ends if eye witnesses were still alive at the time of writing. Clearly, any surviving eye witness could dispute incorrect claims, yet no such a dispute is recorded anywhere, and so given the time frame of these early manuscripts, we can legitimately conclude that the resurrection and post mortem appearances happened as recorded in the Bible.

 

TRANSFORMED LIVES

 

Another key proof of the resurrection is the lives of the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection, and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

 

These disciples were scared, they had abandoned Jesus before His execution, and they were in hiding, meeting in an upper room, etc.

 

However, after Jesus appeared in His resurrected form, and after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, an incredible transformation occurred in these disciples. Not only were there amazing and supernatural signs, incredible preaching and the establishment of a world wide movement called Christianity, but the effects of this last even til today!

 

Of the 12 apostles minus Judas but including Matthais and Paul, only John died a natural death after years of imprisonment. All the rest died as martyrs, in every gruesome way imaginable, from being beaten and stoned to being crucified upside down, stabbed or boiled alive.

 

Men might seem to live for what they think is a lie, but they will not die for a lie, and certainly all of them will not die for what they believe is a lie. No, these people witnessed Christ’s resurrection, and chose to die knowing what they had witnessed, and that is was true.

 

CHECK THE STATS…

 

And while we are talking about proofs, what is the statistical probability that 8, just 8 of the 67 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ coming true in one person. Mathematician Prof Peter Stoner calculated that the probability of just 8 out of 67 prophecies in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the person of Jesus to be one in ten to the 21st power.  A DNA statistical match is one in 10 to the 12th power, so if you believe DNA as viable proof, don’t try and tell me that Jesus was who He said He was! Statistically you cannot deny that Jesus was who He claimed to be!

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

 

But after all the statistics and the facts, what about you? Any court of law in the country would accept the crucifixion, death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as proven beyond reasonable doubt. So what about you?

 

You cannot simply say, well I don’t believe it therefore it’s not true, because as Lee Strobel and others who have st out to disprove Jesus and the Bible discovered, there is overwhelming proof that Jesus is who He said He was… the Son of God, who die for your sin!

 

If you don’t want to accept Jesus, you need to realise that you are rejecting something based solidly in scientific and historical fact. So let me tell you why you are rejecting it. It’s not because you don’t believe it’s true, because anyone with an open mind can see it is, it’s because you don’t want to change. You think that becoming a Christian will stop you having what you think is fun living the life you’re living, but Jesus said,

 

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.

 

The evidence is clear and undeniable… Jesus died on the cross for your sin, and He rose again to prove that you can have eternal life. All that remains is you you to say, yes, I accept Jesus and His free gift of eternal life. As Pilate asked the crowd at Jesus’ trial,

 

Mark 15:12 (ESV Strong's)

what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?”

 

Or as Moses asked the people of God, and today I ask you,

 

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,

 

Easter Sunday is the perfect day to choose life, to choose to come to Jesus and receive His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

 

Any for those who do know Jesus, today is the perfect day to recommit to Him and start living like you mean it! So many Christians believe Jesus died on the Friday, but they forget the power and life to the full of Sunday morning! So if you love Jesus, stop living your life in Saturday and step into the light and joy of true living that Jesus showed us on Sunday. If you do not have the joy of life in your life today, let’s change that right now!

 

Today we’ve seen proof beyond reasonable doubt, but how will you respond to that truth? Come on, lay your prejudice aside and believe the facts, and accept the free gift God is offering to you this day!