Lessons from the Lamps- First Love

October 16, 2017

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

 

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

 

DO YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED?

 

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

 

Revelation 1:3 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Revelation 1:20 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

EPHESUS- I’M NOT FEELING THE LOVE!

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

NOTHING IS HIDDEN

 

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

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

 

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

 

1.     A SERVING CHURCH

 

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

 

2.     A SACRIFICING CHURCH

 

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

 

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

 

3.     A SEPARATED CHURCH

 

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

 

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

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

 

1 John 4:1 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

4.     A SUFFERING CHURCH

 

In verse 3 Jesus describes them as

Revelation 2:3

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FIRST LOVE?

 

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

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

 

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

 

Paul wrote to another church at Thessalonica

 

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

A HONEYMOON TO REMEMBER

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jeremiah 2:2 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

SAME OLD SAME OLD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

BACKSLIDING IN THE CHURCH?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY MEASURE YOUR LOVE?

 

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

 

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

 

1 John 3:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 John 5:3 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

REDISCOVERING YOUR FIRST LOVE

 

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

 

Revelation 2:5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

1.     REMEMBER

 

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

 

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

 

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

Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2.     REPENT

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

3.     REDO

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING?

 

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

 

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

 

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

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 

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

 

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

 

Philippians 3:14 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

IT’S TIME TO FALL IN LOVE AGAIN!

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Creation, Evolution and the Gospel- Dr Tas Walker

October 11, 2017

Join us for a special message from Dr Tas Walker, part of Creation Ministries.  Discover how evolution and what we are teaching our kids is an effort to destroy the gospel, but how creationism is the basis of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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“If-Not” Faith

October 3, 2017

"If-Not" Faith is the type of faith that keeps on going, keeps on believing and keeps on standing no matter the consequences, no matter the opposition and no matter even the result.

 

So how can you obtain this kind of faith?  Listen and find out...

 

With this plebiscite and decision that our country faces, I’ve been asked a few time whether I will feel let down by God if the decision goes the wrong way. If Gay marriage is endorsed by misguided people in our country, how will I feel? How will you feel?

 

Well let me say first of all that I am praying and indeed believing for a no vote win. What I am about to share is not a watering down of my view, which I believe based on Scripture is God’s view. But you can ask the same question for any test of faith that you face. How will you feel if it doesn’t work out? That healing you’re praying for. That financial situation that threatens to sink you. That child who is breaking your heart.

 

Wait a minute Pastor Darin, you’re trying to destroy my faith, right? You don’t think we will win, and you’re trying to let me down softly, right? Wrong! I’m trying to show you the deeper level of faith the Lord has been teaching me about

 

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.

 

All things? Even if we don’t like the result? Even if we prayed for the opposite and believed and trusted?

 

Daniel chapter 3 shows me that true Biblical faith, world changing, earth shattering faith is deeper than whatever situation you face. I’m going to call it “If Not” faith, and share with you what the Lord has been teaching me and challenging in my own walk of faith.

 

GOD DOESN’T NEED AN OUT

 

Let me firstly point out the fact that God doesn’t need an out. He doesn’t need your help to protect His reputation just in case He is not strong enough and the bad guys win.  I grew up with a brand of faith that wasn’t really faith at all. I remember being advised to paraphrase every prayer with “If it be your will Lord” just in case God didn’t come through as we asked. If that is faith, it is surely the limpest, weakest most lifeless faith of all!

 

Stop trying to give God an out! When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, it looked like they had won. When Daniel was thrown into the lions den, it looked like his enemies had won. When Jesus died on the cross, the devil was absolutely sure that he had won. But God had a plan. The set back was just a set up for a come back. If you pray for something and it doesn’t come true, don’t bother trying to give God a free pass. He can defend Himself. True faith goes deeper than that!

 

What I have discovered is that true faith is not, repeat, is NOT dependent on the result. Most of what I have seen is so called faith today is heavily dependent on the result, but God has shown me that the faith He desires is far deeper than getting what we want!

 

True faith rises above the circumstances, regardless of what you’ve been praying for or believing for.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

So what does true, genuine, Holy Spirit inspired faith look like? Let’s look at part of our Bible reading this past week to learn some truths about what God looks for in our faith…

 

FAITH UNDER PRESSURE

 

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar, possibly the greatest earthly king in history, sets up an image of gold on the plains of Dura, that everybody is to bow down and worship when the music plays. The penalty for not bowing down is death, burned alive in the fiery furnace. You think our faith is being tested in this country, these guys faced the ultimate test.

 

So the music plays, the entire nation fall down to worship the image expect three young exiled Hebrew men… Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo. Talk about pressure! Everyone prostrate before the Image of gold, except the three guys standing bolt upright. They are arrested and taken before the King.  These men made a stand for God, so let’s see what happened to them…

 

1.                   THEY WERE ACCUSED AND ATTACKED

 

These young men could have prayed for mercy, they could have asked God for wisdom on how they could compromise with the power of the day, how they could fit in, but they didn’t! They prayed for strength and stood bolt upright when everyone else compromised. And they were attacked…

 

Daniel 3:8 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews.

 

Hebrew word for ACCUSED is QERAS, which literally means “to eat the pieces of, or to chew up piece by piece.” What an apt description of how the media and social media have attacked Christians. They call us bigoted, they call us hypocrites and they cry for fairness and tolerance, yet they do this in the most biased and unfair manner!

 

I have never before seen Christianity attacked in this country like the last few months. I said a couple of weeks ago, we will see more persecution of Christians in the next 2 years than we have seen in the last 200 years.

 

2.                   THEY TOOK A STAND

 

Daniel 3:14 (ESV Strong's)

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?

 

Now if it was me and the King asked if it was true, I reckon I would try and talk me way out of it.

 

These 3 guys could have just updated their Facebook status with a rainbow and snuck under the radar, but they decided to make a stand for what they believed was right. They decided, as have we in this church, to obey God’s Word and not compromise, and not bow down. Believers, it is time to take a stand in love for what we believe in, and decide here and now not to bend.

 

And I will not compromise. Regardless of what anyone says, or legislates, marriage is between a man and a woman… according to God, and therefore according to me! I have several gay friends, I love them, but love does not have to be agreement. I can disagree with same sex marriage and still love them. I disagree with many people that I love. This is my stand, and…

 

I won’t back down, no I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down!

 

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

 

Peter Marshall said, “You are better to stand for something lest you fall for anything.” Like these young men, many of us have taken a stand and been vilified, and yes it’s tough, and yes it hurts, but when it comes to principles, when it comes to what is right, as Midnight Oil once sang, it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

 

3.                   THEY BEHAVED RESPECTFULLY

 

If nothing else the various campaigns for and against same sex marriage have shown one thing… those preaching tolerance and the most intolerant of all. The media and lobby groups have mocked, criticised, slandered, sworn at and tried to entrap those who simply share a different view on the topic. Those against it have nobly not attacked back… they have, from what I have seen, been respectful.

 

I don’t agree with the yes vote, and I don’t agree gays should be married, but I will not disrespect them or treat them differently.

 

1 Peter 3:13-17 (ESV Strong's)

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

 

These 3 young men were not disrespectful… they might be opposing the most powerful man on earth, but they showed genuine love, respect and honour towards him. So should we.

 

 

4.                   THEY HAD FAITH FOR DELIVERANCE

 

They respectfully answered the king…

 

Daniel 3:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

 

These three men were resolved to worship their God, confident He would act on their behalf. They did not argue the point with the king or defend themselves. They simply proclaimed their faith and put their lives in the hands of the one true God. They simply trusted their God!

 

They made a stand, and under the most intense pressure, instead of fearing for their lives, instead of compromising, they refused to bend, even unto death. They had faith, and the Lord loves that faith.

 

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Faith is not a tool to get what you want. It’s a way to please your Heavenly Father.

 

Notice the 3 men didn’t say something like, “I think God might, maybe save us. If I can just summon enough faith, maybe He would save us.”

 

If you are praying for something, anything from healing to financial or other provision, then pray and believe God, and don’t stop and don’t doubt until He answers.

 

Now some people ask if we pray for the sick. The answer is yes, and when we pray, we pray in faith believing that God will heal them. And I keep this up until He either does it or tells me otherwise!

 

James 5:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

 

The prayer of faith, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. So first, you have to be righteous, clean and fully committed to the Lord, living for Him. And second, you have to have faith. Not faith in drugs, science, politics or man, but faith in God!

 

 

BUT THEY ALSO HAD DEEPER, “IF-NOT” FAITH

 

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

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

 

This is earth shattering, world changing faith on a scale rarely seen in any age.  These young men did not add the caveat “Lord, if it be your will,” they were not giving God an out or trying to avoid the embarrassment of having their prayers not answered the way they wanted. No, this was something far deeper!

 

What they are saying is, “Lord, whether You see fit in Your infinite wisdom to have mercy upon us and save our lives or not, WE WILL NOT COMPROMISE!” They are saying we stand for what is right, regardless of the result, the circumstance or anything you can do to us, O King! They are saying our faith is absolute, not dependent on the results and we believe our God, and even if He chooses to let us die, we will never bend!

 

This is the type of faith commended in Hebrews 11…

 

Hebrews 11:36-37 (ESV Strong's)

Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—

 

I read this in the study note from Blackeby… “Faith is demonstrated through action. Sometimes faith results in incredible victory, healing, and miraculous deliverance. Other times it is expressed by confidence and peace in the presence of continued pain, suffering and rejection. Genuine faith perseveres in both trial and triumph.”

 

“If not” faith stands true regardless of the perceived results. This faith says, “I’m believing for this, and if not, if it doesn’t happen the way I want, you need to know that I will never doubt, I will never turn aside, I will never back down, whatever the result, I WILL STAND WITHOUT COMPROMISE!

 

So how do you gain a faith is that deep, that is that strong, regardless of the result?

 

BUILD YOUR FAITH ON GOD’S WORD

 

Max Lucado talks about a time when his granddaughter fell into a pool and stopped breathing. They revived her and saved her life, and he was thanking God in prayer, thanking God for saving his precious grandchild, called God a good god. They the Lord spoke to him and said, “Max, would you still be able to call me a good God if I decided to take her home to Heaven?”

 

The strength of any faith is not how much you can make yourself believe, and it is not getting the desired result, it’s the object of your faith. You can tell yourself something over and over, you can convince yourself of anything. You can believe with all your heart that the world is flat, but it will not be so. You can believe sincerely that there is no God and hell doesn’t exist, and 5 seconds after you die you’ll figure it out!

 

The object of your faith is what makes it strong, not how much faith you can muster! Absolute faith in an absolutely faithful God is an absolute certainty. So where do we as Christians go wrong?

 

We build our faith on what we want, not what the Word of God says. We pray and ask God for things, we even demand them in faith thinking we are being bold, then we get mad when He doesn’t give us what He never even said He would give!

 

Psalms 112:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

 

Listen, God is not your personal Santa Clause! His job is not giving you what you want and making you the most comfortable. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion! The reason so many Christians lack faith is not that God has let them down, it’s that they named and claimed and believed for something God never said He would give them.

 

You have needs, you have desires, but can you trust God to meet your needs, even if it looks different to what you have planned?

 

Matthew 6:8 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 

So what can you base “if-not” faith on? This...

 

Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Faith is based in God’s Word, that’s why in the current debate, we don’t compromise God’s Word.

 

But hey, it doesn’t mean you can pick and choose the bits you want! You cannot claim Jeremiah 29:11 without living Jeremiah 29:12-13…

 

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

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

 

We want the plans, we want the prospering, but we don’t want to seek Him with all our heart, because we want to reserve a bit of our heart for ourselves. We’d rather ignore God until we really need Him. Brothers and sisters, we must seek His face, not just His hand!

 

Many Believers are search the Bible and picking out promises they like. Prayer of Jabez, hey that’s great, but I’m not going to pray for and claim Paul’s list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11!

 

If God gives you a promise, then the Holy Spirit quickens a verse to your heart. Don’t run around the Word of God stealing promises that are not intended for you. Ask God, let Him give you a verse. If someone comes to me and says God told me this or that, I say to them “Wonderful, show me the verse.” Our prophetic people here of which we have many know that they can’t come to me with a word from the Lord without Scripture.

 

If you want the kind of deep, immovable, world changing faith that these 3 guys had, build it on God’s Word. If you trust men, if you trust science, if you trust the government or the TV or popular opinion, you will be let down.., they will ultimately betray you… but your Father never will!

 

Whether you like the result or not, whether you get what you believe for or not, faith built on the all knowing, all being, all powerful God, the Father you can only get to know through His never changing, indisputable Word, will never fail!

 

Here’s something I found this week… In our Bible readings we read Psalm 118. It is the middle chapter of the entire Bible. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The Scriptures have 594 chapters before Psalm 118, and 594 chapters after Psalm 118. Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible. It goes without saying that the central verse has an important message: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."

 

SO WHAT IF…?  MY PROCLAMATION...

 

So, in regards the same sex marriage vote, will my faith be destroyed if the yes vote wins?

 

No chance. I’m praying for and believing for our nation to reject the proposal. It is in the hands of the Lord. If the no vote wins, I will rejoice. But even if the vote is yes, I want you to know devil, and I want you to know world, that I will not call a gay union a marriage. I will not bow the knee to this piece of legislation and I will not perform same sex marriage rites and I will not back down and I will never compromise. Lord, let us reach out to our gay friends and relatives, not stoop to legitimise something that is clearly unbiblical.

 

This is what I reason about faith…

Faith believes God… period! If you pray for something and it does not happen the way you planned, then either of these 4 possibilities prevail…

 

1.                   GOD IS INCAPABLE

 

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

 

Is God able? He is far more than able, and nothing is impossible for Him.

 

2.                   OUR FAITH IS INADEQUATE

 

This is a dangerous path full of hurt and condemnation. If you think that God has not answered the way you want because of your lack of faith, you’re in for a world of disappointment. We don’t have to drum up more faith to move the hand of God. The smallest amount of faith in an infinite God is more than enough.

 

Matthew 17:20 (ESV Strong's)

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

 

3.                   WE DID NOT ACTUALLY HEAR FROM HIM

 

I hear people say they asked God for something and He let them down. Let me remind you that if you ask for something He doesn’t have as part of His plan, thank the Lord He doesn’t grant your request. You can’t just demand something, then get mad when you don’t get what you want, unless you’re a 2 year old.

 

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.

 

The confidence that is a part of “if-not” faith comes from finding His will first, not telling Him what He should do for you!  If you genuinely hear from God, if you have scripture to back you up, not twisted scripture to try and support your point, then You can take that to the bank!

 

4.                   GOD HAS A HIGHER PLAN

 

Absolute faith in God, “if not” faith in God , believes that no matter the outcome, God has a plan, a perfect plan, far beyond our comprehension.

 

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Here is a graph of the stock market in 2008, the GFC. Look at that and you panic, and the economy is in ruins, and we lost everything, and then some. But when you zoom back, you see things in the true perspective. We see but a few paces ahead, but your Father knows the entire journey.

 

So if you are struggling in your faith, then it’s time you stepped up into absolute, “if not” faith. Have you waited and waited, is your faith growing weak, it the light burning dim? It’s time to ignite that faith and trust not in what you see, not in the results of your prayers, but in the absolute power and majesty of the King of Kings, your Father!

 

Like a child doing a huge puzzle, you see but a piece or two and wonder why it doesn’t seem to fit. But God sees the whole thing, and the fact things don’t seem to be working out is not the fault of the puzzle, or God, it’s us, and our limited perspective.

 

So if the vote is a yes vote, does that destroy my faith in God? No way! I trust Him no matter what happens in my nation, my church, my family.

 

How can I have such faith? Because my faith is in God. Not in man, not in public opinion, not in government legislation, my faith is in God. My faith does not stand on the results I get, my faith does not hinge on getting what I decide I want, my faith is in God.

 

Some of you here are struggling with your faith. You might be praying for a loved one to change, a loved one to be saved, a job, a ministry, a direction in life, finances to flow your way, success in your chosen field.

 

If you can trust Him for salvation, if you can trust Him for providing for you and your family, why not trust Him for whatever you are praying for. Will you trust Him so much that even if everyone else thinks God has let you down, you will stand in faith with “if-not” faith, the faith that trusts that God has a better way.

 

Can you trust Him that much?

 

If you are praying for something specific right now, and struggling to stay in faith, let’s join our faith with yours to trust God, no matter what, even if it doesn’t appear to be a positive answer.

 

 

Mark 11:22-24 (ESV Strong's)

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

 

 

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To the Mountains- Pastora Leonilla Nevalta

September 26, 2017

All the way from the Philippines, Pastora Nevalta is a mighty woman of God, serving her people faithfully with her husband Welly in ministry for the last 3 decades.

 

In this message, Leonilla not only encourages us as she shares experiences from her life, but she also challenges us to pray for her nation and to see the move of God sweep across both Australia and the Philippines, from the islands and plains to her beloved mountain areas. Come and be blessed and challenged by her message today!

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Overcoming Discouragement

September 18, 2017

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, walls that had been broken down for centuries. He inspired the people, they began to build, but opposition, the massiveness of the task and internal conflicts threatened to stop the project.

 

Nehemiah 4:10

In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”

 

You probably started the year full of hope. A new year, a new dream of what could be.you set out with expectancy and hope, trusting the Lord, believing that this was the year of breakthrough. You kept going for a while, suffered a few disappointments, but soldiered on in your business, in your family or in your ministry.

 

But then came the middle of the year… things got tough, disappointments abound, the hopes of the start of the year grew dim. Discouragement is a constant spectre lurking near the edge of your mind, especially if you want to serve God and make a difference.

 

Life is filled with problems, challenges, and disappointments. The school fundraiser didn’t go as well as we had hoped. The team finished the season last despite our best coaching efforts. The event you organised did not receive glowing reviews despite all your hard work and late nights of preparation. The report from the doctor was worse than we expected. The bills pile up higher than we’d hoped. Family issues you thought had been dealt with are raised again.

 

Things happen that mess up our best-laid plans. Often, we find ourselves let down and discouraged. Sometimes, it’s so bad that we just want to give up. Discouragement sets in and says, “Why bother? Nobody cares anyhow.” Despite the circumstances, discouragement doesn’t have to overwhelm us. We can learn from it, benefit from it, and we can overcome it.

 

Discouragement ought to be our first indication that it is time to pray. We often become discouraged because we get too busy and neglect prayer. Many believers are discouraged by life’s problems and then lack the confidence that they can deal effectively with life’s toughest challenges. We need to call on God to help us understand His guidance in the midst of our circumstances and disappointments.

 

THAT IS DISAPPOINTING

 

Disappointment is inevitable… discouragement is optional. I started this year with high hopes, many of which have not been reached. We all do. And when we start to feel like that, discouragement is a downhill spiral that can take over our lives!

 

Life is full of disappointments, and as these build and start to pile up, they seem to accumulate and weight down upon us, even to the point of overwhelming us, and that is discouragement. Discouragement makes you tired, it saps your strength and eventually it breaks your heart!

 

And this is commonplace, in life and in the Bible. Most Bible heroes went through times of doubt and discouragement, men like David and Gideon, Joshua and Moses, Paul and Peter and John. Yet in the midst of great persecution Paul can write this…

 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

 

How can he do that? I’m sure he fought discouragement, but it never overwhelmed him and it never crushed him. He was able to take disappointment and change the first letter to H… His Appointment!

 

While discouragement can cause depression and the inability to act, it can also motivate a person, giving renewed determination. Like Nehemiah, we can let discouragement cause us to find a way to solve the problem. We can pray, plan, and then move ahead, knowing that God goes with us.

 

CAUSES OF DISCOURAGEMENT

 

The dictionary defines discouragement as “to deprive of courage, hope, or 

confidence; dishearten; dispirit.”

 

I define it as feeling overwhelmed by by feelings of inadequacy. Notice that feelings appears twice, because if you step back and look at it, discouragement is not fact, not substance, it is all feeling!

 

There are three underlying causes for discouragement: (1) lack of confidence in God; (2) lack of confidence in ourselves; or (3) lack of direction for the future.

 

These are all made to seem worse by external factors. Circumstances, other people’s words and opinions, timing, defeat and ridicule all make discouragement seem worse, but the true cause is internal… it is within you and I, and it is part of human nature.

 

For example, I might sing somewhere, and hundreds even thousands are blessed, and many people send words of encouragement. Then one person criticises. Which do you think I think about the most? You do something in church and everyone likes it, but one person criticises. Who do you remember? Why is it always your wife?

 

As these pressures build up, I find I rehearse the negative things over and over in my mind, until I approach overwhelm. And it is this feeling of overwhelm that fuels discouragement.

 

God knows and understands. He understood the task Joshua faced to enter the Promised Land, and how discouraged he could become. Moses was gone, he was leading alone and asked to do what his mentor couldn’t do. In Joshua 1, God shows us that courage is the opposite of discourage, and He calls on Joshua to be “strong and courageous”, then God gives him this key…

 

Joshua 1:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

 

Discouragement is the overwhelm you feel, the down you feel, the inadequacy you feel when things do not work out. Interestingly, I frequently get very discouraged after a triumph. The feeling of flatness after the high of something great is also discouragement. That’s why God directed Joshua to His Word. Staying close to God is the key!

 

 

HOW TO OVERCOME THE OVERWHELM OF DISCOURAGEMENT

 

Discouragement is a feeling. It can cripple you, it can make your life miserable, it can drive people away from you, but it is just a feeling. So how can you overcome discouragement and face life’s difficulties and challenges with the opposite spirit… encouragement?

 

1.     KNOW GOD CARES ABOUT YOU

 

The first step is to understand what God thinks of you. If you see God as harsh and judgemental, no wonder you get discouraged! Step 1 is understanding what God really thinks about you.

 

Psalms 139:14

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

 

 Psalms 17:8

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

 

Deuteronomy 7:6

The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession,

 

1 Peter 2:9

 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

To start overcoming discouragement, start by seeing Yourself as God sees you. You’re precious, you’re special, you’re chosen, you’re indwelled by His Spirit. You’re not a mistake, you’re not a failure and you’re not an embarrassment.

 

I read the testimony of a girl named Jenny, born with Down’s Syndrome. Discouraged and hurt by what kids said at school, feeling like a mistake, her mum challenged her like this… I’ll give you $5,000 if you can find anywhere in the Bible where God tells you you’re a mistake. She never got the money, but she concluded, “God doesn’t make mistakes, and that’s the truth, no matter what we sometimes think.” Smart girl!

 

2.     RIDE OUT THE STORM

 

Many people never realise their full potential because they become discouraged by the battles they face, and they give up too soon. We must never quit.

 

Galatians 6:9

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

 

Picture this… Age 22, Failed in business, 23, Ran for Legislature—defeated, 24, Again failed in business, Age 25, Elected to Legislature, 26 sweetheart died, age 27 Had a nervous breakdown, age 29 Defeated for Speaker, 31 Defeated for Elector, 34 Defeated for Congress, 37 Elected to Congress, 39 again Defeated for Congress, then at age 46, Defeated for Senate, ran for Vice President at 47, Defeated, ran for senate age 49, and again defeated, but at age 51, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States!

Don’t give up, ride out the storm, and make no big decisions in the worst of it!

 

3.     REALISE GOD USES ORDINARY PEOPLE

 

We don’t have to be spiritual giants to experience God’s grace in our lives. He chooses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things for Him.

 

1 Corinthians 1:26-27

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

 

God doesn’t need you to be pretty, talented, gifted or anything else, He just needs you to be available and willing. He delights to do the extraordinary with the ordinary!

 

4.     DON’T BE DEFEATED BY THE NEGATIVES

 

I bet you anything that, if you listen, you’re surrounded by voices saying you can’t, or it will never work. That’s what the world dishes up every time. Listening to these voices discourages you. It’s time to take your eyes off the negatives and place them firmly on something or someone positive.

 

Isaiah 54:17

no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

 

And trust me, opinions are like noses… everyone has one, and most of them smell bad!

 

5.     REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE SPECIAL

 

We mentioned this before, you are not an accident, you are created in God’s image to love Him and serve Him. You are special, you are precious.

 

Isaiah 43:4

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

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

 

If you are discouraged, you need to stop and get your head around the fact that you are valuable to God. He chooses you, and he is a loving Father longing to wrap His arms around you and love all over you. Listen, it’s not what you do for Him that makes Him love you, it’s just that you are you, and He loves you no matter what, and no matter what you’ve done!

 

God uniquely created us and designed us to serve Him. No one else can do what we can do for Him. You are uniquely gifted to minister to people no one else will ever meet or touch. You must not give up just because there are challenges and obstacles. Don’t get discouraged, get encouraged!

 

6.     WATCH YOUR BEHAVIOUR

 

I said before, what we focus on determines what we become, so not only must we focus on Christ, but we must also focus on our behaviour.

 

1 Peter 2:12

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

 

If you are feeling discouraged, you need to pay close attention to your behaviour.

 

We need to do what is right, no matter how we feel. We should make sure our behaviour determines our feelings rather than allowing our feelings to determine our behaviour. People will say, “I’m just being myself,” but hey, why not be your best self?

 

Maybe you’re feeling so down and discouraged and miserable that you think you cannot change your behaviour. You might be grumpy and snappy, yelling at the kids and snapping at those you love. Well, if the pastor or a police officer knocks on the door, I bet you’re going to change your behaviour just like that. Don’t say you can’t change, because when you need to you can!

 

Watching our behaviour and being our best self not only changes your discouraging feeling, but it can set you free to be creative, confident, and committed.

 

These days people leave church of the slightest reason. A decision didn’t go your way, you heard something you didn’t like, you did something and it wasn’t well received. Watch your behaviour! If you keep serving, keep faithful and keep focussed on Christ, you will be raised up in due time.

 

7.     MIND YOUR LANGUAGE

 

I’m not talking about swearing, because most of you don’t, I’m talking about how you speak about yourself. If you constantly speak words over your life they become self fulfilling prophecy…

 

Proverbs 23:7

 

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

 

Me Jesus put it this way...

 

Luke 6:45

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

 

What you say constantly reveals what is going on in your heart. If you constantly tell yourself you can’t do it, it’s too hard or you’re not worth it, then your actions follow suit most often!

 

Fiona pulled me up just recently. I constantly say I’m tired, several times a night, and she pointed it out. If I don’t think about it or say it as much, guess what? I don’t feel as tired.

 

Watch what you say, to yourself and others, because it directly affects what you do.

 

8.     BE PERSISTENT, BUT GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO FAIL

 

Luke 18 tells the story of the persistent widow, who badgered a judge to give her protection until he said…

 

Luke 18:5

because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”

 

Korean Grandma Sa-soon went for her licence for the first time at age 60, and failed the written portion, consisting of 40 multiple choice questions 949 times; the concept of many of the questions were confusing to her, being an elderly woman living in a remote village. Finally, on the 950th attempt she got a passing grade of 60 and moved on to the actual driver's test which she only failed 4 times before getting passing marks. She became a national hero in South Korea, and Kia gave her a car for free!

 

 

 Persistence is essential, because discouragement makes you want to give up. You also need to give yourself permission to fail, because we all fail at some point. Failure is not permanent, it’s a learning process. We try, we fail, we figure out where we went wrong and correct it.

 

9.     FOCUS ON CHRIST

 

What you focus on has a huge bearing on what you become. The voices of the world are shouting at you all the time. But when you focus on Jesus, the discouragement in your heart will be replaced with peace…

 

Isaiah 26:3

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

 

No life is meaningless if Christ is at the center of it. Want perfect peace in your life? Then set your mind on the Lord. When you look at Him, the negatives disappear. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the negatives will grow strangely dim.

 

What we focus on is what we become. It’s reflected in our speech and our actions.

 

The answer to discouragement is getting our focus off ourselves and our limited resources and off our current situation with all of its disappointments, and off the negatives things people are saying about us, instead making a conscious effort at focusing on the unlimited power of an omnipotent God.

 

He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Even in the face of life’s greatest challenges, His grace is sufficient. When we give our discouragement to God, He can encourage and draw us ever closer to Him.

 

I know the year is getting on, and I know many of us are tired and flat. The things we hoped for haven’t happened, the things we feared may have happened.

 

Listen… today is the day we commit to taking us eyes off our circumstances, off our tiredness, off the discouragements and disappointments and off what people say, and we place our eyes firmly on Jesus Christ!

 

FILL ‘ER UP!

 

And how do we actually focus on Christ? Well, it involves some commitment and effort. Don’t sit back and think your life will be on fire for Christ by you sitting and wasting time working or watching movies!

 

We are like a car… when you’re discouraged, your tank is empty. You only see the circumstances and hear all the negative words. You get discouraged, but there is nothing in the tank to focus upon. You need to be filled up, but what do you fill your mind with?

 

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

If you are discouraged right now, you need to start filling your mind and your heart with the things of God. Get off the TV, get off Facebook and get onto the daily Bible readings. They are short, they are action packed and they will build into your life and fill you up.

 

And connect with positive people. Connect with people whose tanks are full, or at least more full than yours. And you find them in church. Listen, it’s time for you to skip the kids football or Sunday morning shopping and get to church! I am watching people grind down and get discouraged, but instead of plugging in to our church family, they’re isolating themselves. Whatever you face today, however discouraged, focus on Christ, fill your mind with the Word of God and get into church, and I promise you  new day will dawn, and year heart will be filled with hope!

 

If you are feeling discouraged today, you need to get filled up, and right now!

 

Today is the day you hand your burden of discouragement to Jesus and let Him carry it for you, because He says…

 

Matthew 11:28-30

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

 

Today many of you are struggling with discouragement. Please don’t go it alone, and don’t carry the burden a moment longer! Come to Jesus this morning, come and let His Spirit refill your tank, to empower you to overcome discouragement. When we respond to God in faith we delight Him, and He pours out His blessing and His guidance upon your life.

 

You can sit in your chair and say, I’m discouraged but I don’t want to go forward. If you get up and respond to the Lord today, God delights in that act of faith. It takes faith to come forward, but I have prayed that for those who respond, God’s Holy Spirit will supernaturally fill them up.

 

Coming to the front today is not an admission of guilt, or sin or of failure. It’s an admission of weariness and discouragement, it’s an admission that your spiritual tank is empty and it’s an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to fill you up.  It is you saying you’re open  to give it all to God and let Him have His way.

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GPS- God’s Positioning System

September 11, 2017

Psalms 1:1-4

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

 

As humans, we all want to know where we have come from, where we are now and most importantly, where we are going. In our cars and on our phones we all now have GPS devices, but what is a GPS and how does it work, and does God offer a GPS?

 

 

GPS- GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM

 

 

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of about 30 satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km. The system was originally developed by the US government for military navigation but now anyone with a GPS device, be it a SatNav, mobile phone or handheld GPS unit, can receive the radio signals that the satellites broadcast.

Wherever you are on the planet, at least four GPS satellites are ‘visible’ at any time. Each one transmits information about its position and the current time at regular intervals. These signals, travelling at the speed of light, are intercepted by your GPS receiver, which calculates how far away each satellite is based on how long it took for the messages to arrive.

Once it has information on how far away at least three satellites are, your GPS receiver can pinpoint your location using a process called trilateration.

So this gives rise to some pretty accurate information about where we are and where we are going, although this doesn’t always work.

 

GPS- GOING PLACES STUPIDLY

Japanese Tourists Drive Straight into the Pacific Thanks to His GPS

 

Three Japanese tourists in Australia found themselves in an embarrassing situation after their GPS navigation system lured them down the wrong path. The three students from Tokyo set out to drive to North Stradbroke Island on the Australian coast Thursday morning, and mapped out their path on their GPS system. The road looked clear, at low tide — but the map forgot to show the 9 miles of water and mud between the island and the mainland.

As the three drove their rented Hyundai Getz into Moreton Bay, they found the GPS device guiding them from a gravel road into thick mud. They tried to get back to solid ground, but as the tide rose they were forced to abandon their car. Passengers on passing ferries watched in amazement.

 

 

GPS- GOD’S POSITIONING SYSTEM

 

The GPS is a phenomenal tool which all of us can now access. We don’t have to know how it works, we just have to learn how to use one. But in order for God’s Positioning System to work certain things must happen…

 

 

1.      YOUR GPS HAS TO BE CONNECTED

 

 

I know this sounds basic, but if your GPS has no power, if it is disconnected or if the satellites are down, your GPS won’t work.  In the same way, unless you are connected to God, your GPS isn’t God’s Positioning System it’s a paperweight!

 

John 16:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

 

For your GPS to work, you must be plugged into Christ. We talk often about asking Jesus into your life as your Lord and Saviour, and from that moment your sins are forgiven and you have the gift of eternal life. But the really cool thing is you get the Holy Spirit living within you..

 

2 Timothy 1:14

By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

 

God gives us the deposit of the Holy Spirit, and once you have the Holy Spirit within you, you’re connected to God, and your God Positioning System is ready to guide you.

 

2.      YOU HAVE TO WANT TO MOVE FORWARD

 

A Sunday school class was once asked why the people of God wandered in the desert for 40 years. One young girl answered, “Because Moses was a boy, and he would never stop to ask for directions.”

 

 

You can sit and look at your GPS all day, but unless you want to use it to actually move forward, the GPS is useless.  And so it is with your life, and with this church.

 

God’s Positioning System is like the rudder of a boat. If you are stationary, it doesn’t work. You cannot steer if the boat isn’t moving. But when it starts to move the rudder bites and you can begin to steer.

 

Psalms 25:4-5

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

 

Hebrew for wait is qawa, meaning to bind together, wait eagerly in hope or to lie in wait expectantly. Wait doesn’t mean sit and wait, it means keep doing what you’re doing, keep moving forward eagerly expecting to be led and guided in the right way. It means if you haven’t got a job, keep applying for them. If you haven’t got a ministry in church, start serving others.

 

I could look at our church and say, “Hey were basically full, everyone is happy, job done.” But I am not content, because God has given me a vision and we’ve only just begun!

 

Wikipedia defines inertia as the resistance of any object to any change in its state of motion.

 

If I resist change, I cannot move forward. And neither can this church.

 

No one likes change, especially if we are comfortable and content with the current situation. Change can be painful, it can be scary, it’s almost always uncomfortable. Yet most of us recognise that progress always involves change, and maintenance usually involves no change. So when faced with the prospect of change, how do you face it in a godly way?

 

As pastor of this church, I have to face the prospect of change if we are to move into all that God has for us, and I choose to do so along with my leadership team, elders and especially the board. In the next few weeks we face the prospect of many changes… seats, our name, other things too. So let’s look at how the apostle Paul faces changes…

 

Acts 16:6-10

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

 

THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN

 

Paul had plans, big plans. He wanted to take the gospel to Asia, but the Holy Spirit forbade them. Next he decided on Bithynia. But even before he could write “Bithynia or bust” in the dust on the back of his donkey, the plans were changed again by a vision.

 

We see in Paul a model of how we should face changes, in our lives and in the church.

 

Proverbs 19:21

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

 

And we make our plans as best we can, but we must be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. So is it wrong to make plans? Of course not, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it, right? So can we allow ourselves to become discouraged if changes happen we don’t expect? No, we have to trust God!

 

What stops us from moving forward is contentment or fear, or fear of losing contentment.

 

Lot’s wife was content in Sodom, as they were fleeing the doomed city, she lagged behind and then

 

Genesis 19:26

But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

 

She was happy, she was content, she resisted God ordained change. If you are at this church to cruise along and be content, I’m sorry because, while I want you to be happy here, I don’t want any of us content with the status quo. Nice band, but that’s going down, down!

 

There’s a world to be won for Christ, there are people next door and in the next street and across the world going to hell, and I will never be content to just save me and mine! Remember the symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion, so comfort is not the highest calling here!

 

But often we resist change because of fear. Raymond just changed countries, to a people he doesn’t know, in a land he doesn’t recognise, to a situation he doesn’t understand, but he had courage to face that change and step out in faith.

 

Christian business consultant Sam Voorhies offers five essential principles for “growing through the change process.”

(1) Don’t take things too personally. Changes in this church are not against you personally… we are making the calls we believe God wants us to make, not rattling your cage!

(2) View things in light of eternity, from God’s perspective. Colossians 3:2

(3) Focus on your call, not your career. If God calls you to serve in this church, it’s not about you!

(4) Take responsibility for how you respond. If you don’t agree with something, seek God and respond the way He wants you to, don’t become like a petulant child! You cannot control what others do or decide, but you can control your response.

(5) Know that God will never forget nor forsake you.

 

Change is inevitable if we are to continue moving forward. You don’t have to agree, but if you disagree, do so agreeably!

 

 

3.      KNOW WHERE YOU ARE NOW

 

If you turn in your GPS to go to a Brisbane, and it navigates from Vladivostok, it is useless. Guidance needs to take you from where you are now into the future.

 

So where are you now? Are you close to God right now? Are you spending time each day with Him? If you don’t stay close to God, how can He guide you in your life?

 

God longs to lead you,  guide you, and to teach you, but you must find yourself close to Him.

 

James 4:8

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

 

So many people today are double minded, they change like shifting sands, dependent on fashion and the opinions of others. We see it in our country with the same sex marriage issue, and Christians, if they are not Clos enough to the Lord, are double minded.

 

Listen to what James says about being double minded…

 

James 1:6-8

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. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

If you don’t draw close to God, you get no guidance, no direction and no peace, you just get confusion. For God’s Positioning System to work properly, you must draw near to God!

 

 

4.      KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO GO

 

 

Are you on the road to nowhere? Are you confused about where you are going in life? I don’t have a plan for your life, but I know who does!

 

Proverbs 3:5-7

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

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

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

 

If you make decisions in your own strength and wisdom, if you don’t turn away from evil, then you won’t know where you are going, and you will be like this…

 

Ephesians 4:14

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

 

So where are you going? Where is this church going? If our aim is to have a great life, or be happy, or grow a big church. That’s not an aim, that’s nothing more than a wish.

 

Luke 18:8

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

I don’t want to be successful. What I want is to be faithful…

 

Luke 16:10

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

 

If you are faithful in the small things, you will be entrusted with great things. Do I want our church to grow? Of course, but that’s not my aim. I just want to be faithful. God can grows things as He sees fit, but we must be faithful.

 

My aim is not to grow a kingdom here. My reason for being in ministry is not to build a big church or bigger buildings. While ever there is one person in pain, one person lonely, one person going to hell, my calling is to serve the Lord with all my heart and all my being. My calling is to be faithful…

 

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—

to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

 

That’s where my GPS is set to. So what about you? Will you join me?

 

5.      YOU HAVE TO BE OBEDIENT

 

Mrs. Merv Grazinski , of Oklahoma City, purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an Oklahoma University football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set out for home, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.

"Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway at the first turn, crashed and overturned. Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set.

"The Oklahoma jury awarded her – are you sitting down? – $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home."

Or this one…

 

A GPS doesn’t steer for you, it doesn’t think for you, it doesn’t observe for you… it is not an autopilot. It guides you, it directs you to where to go, but you have to be obedient to it. If you disobey, if you ignore it, if you walk to the back of the vehicle to make a sandwich, how can God lead you in the right way? It’s like herding chickens!

 

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

 

It’s so simple… if you love God, obey Him. Don’t constantly disobey God’s will for your life and have to gall to say that you love Him! Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will, and obedience to what is right. And the thing is, if you obey Him, He works on your behalf to lead you into the greatest life possible. If you could only see things from God’s perspective, you would be obedient and trust Him.

 

If you are open, if your heart is seeking Him, His Word will direct your steps. I cannot tell you the number of times I have read something in my daily Bible reading in a way that I could use and apply for direction that very day. I believe in God’s GPS, I believe in His Word. That’s why I continually encourage you to do this Bible reading plan. Do it every day, and watch Him lead your life, you very own GPS for your life, and it’s all here!

 

But the reality is, that this is a constant battle, even for us who know God and read His Word daily. We start out trusting, we start following the GPS and moving forward, but our thoughts lead us away from God. Society attacks Christian values constantly, TV assaults our senses, the Internet and social media draw our attention from what is really important, so we constantly battle to be obedient. That’s why Paul writes…

 

2 Corinthians 10:5

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

Some of you here want to obey, you long to be led by the Holy Spirit, but you must learn to start taking every thought captive. Spending time with Christ every day is a great way to start centring your mind on God, and becoming more obedient. Without obedience, God’s Positioning System is useless in your life!

 

CAN YOU TRUST YOUR GPS?

 

 

But as we saw earlier, even obedience to a GPS can lead you down some pretty strange paths.

 

11 Pennsylvania residents sued a GPS manufacturer in 2013 because the charter bus they were passengers on slammed into an overpass near Boston when the device directed the driver onto a road with height restrictions less than the height of his vehicle.

 

 

When the new Apple Iphone came out , it had an identifiable Apple maps error directing people to drive right onto an active airport runway at an Alaskan airport. Two separate people courageously ignored security gates and signs reading,” Stop, Danger, Active Runways, Do Not Proceed” and boldly drove onto the runways faithfully following their GPS.

 

So the question to you this morning is, can you trust God’s Positioning System? Absolutely YES!

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

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

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

God is God, and as we saw last week, He is your loving Father. He will not give you everything you want, He will not direct you to every place you want to go, because He loves you, and know what is best for you. He is your loving Father, and He has plans to prosper not to harm you, so if you truly love Him you can truly trust Him to lead you in the right direction. Not under bridges that are too low, not onto active runways and not into Morton Bay. Let Him have control and let Him lead yo, because He is faithful.

 

Many of you struggle to trust God, and I get it. I understand how hard it is to trust Him when  don’t have the full picture. We all face the situations where it looks right, but God takes us another way, but the more experience you have of trusting God and the closer you are to Him, the more confident you become trusting Him. Many struggle to trust God not because He let them down, but because people let them down. People say and do things that God doesn’t approve of. So if you’ve been hurt or let down in the past, don’t blame God for what man has done. Paul addresses this very issue..

Romans 3:3-4

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

 

GOD’S POSITIONING SYSTEM IS TRUE AND FAITHFUL

 

God is true. God is faithful, and God is the GPS your life needs right now.

 

And finally, the ultimate Bible verse on God’s Positioning system is this…

 

Isaiah 30:21

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

 

If you face major decisions in Your life and you need guidance, then today is the day to respond to His Word. Need a job, need a change of job, need a change of living situation? Need direction about whether to start or stop something? Are you facing financial decisions? Moral decisions? Worried about what to say to your kids or grandkids? Whatever you face, whatever decision you face, you need God’s GPS, not someone’s opinion.

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The Father’s Heart- Father’s Day 2017

September 6, 2017
  1. Take my wallet and GO CRAZY shopping. 

    9. No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit complaining and let's go to the mall. 

  2. Here honey, you use the remote. 

    7. Well, how 'bout that? I'm lost! Looks like we'll have to stop and ask for directions. 

    6. Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend ... you might want to consider throwing a party. 

    5. Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend. 

    4. Hey, let me hold your purse while you try that on. 

    3. Let's watch the Romance Channel tonight! 

    2. Well, I don't know what's wrong with your car. Probably one of those doo-hickey thingies.

and the Number 1 thing you'll never hear a Dad say:


  1. When I was growing up, we had it so easy!  

 

 

 

 

How long should a good sermon be? It should be like a woman's skirt, long enough to cover the essentials and short enough to keep you interested!

 

It’s Father’s Day, and while we always celebrate fatherhood on this day, I want to have a look at God, the perfect Father and His heart for you and I. People often get this the wrong way around, looking at their own earthly father and saying he was this or that, therefore I cannot relate to God as a father. Today, let’s do it in reverse, and look at Father heart of God first and work back recognising our own father’s, however good or bad, are dim reflections of the one true Father.

 

Father’s Day is often a day of mixed emotion for many people. For me, I remember the father I have lost, the godly, wise, loving man I called Dad, who went to be with the Lord nearly 3 years ago, but for many you have very mixed emotions when it comes to your father.

 

HOW DO YOU SEE GOD?

 

Maybe your father wasn’t in the picture, perhaps he left you early in life. Maybe he only showed up every other weekend, or perhaps he was at home physically but never had time for you. Perhaps he sexually abused you, belted you or maybe, like me, he was kind and loving.

 

Whatever your view of your earthly father, you need to stop and recognise that this will likely colour your view of God, because God is revealed to us in His Word as a Father. If your dad was kind and loving, you will easily be able to see God as kind and loving. If your dad was harsh or distant, you will tend to see God as that.

 

While we honour all fathers today, and we have many good ones present, not one of them would claim to be perfect, right? Jesus said….

 

Matthew 5:48

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

But clearly none of us are perfect. However, God is the perfect father, and He is never too busy for you, never not there and He is never abusive.

 

Some see God as having a big stick, waiting to scourge you, waiting to punish you when you step out of line. Some live in fear of rejection from Him, fearing that the smallest failure will be punished severely.

 

If you focus on your earthly father you will see faults, if you focus on your Heavenly Father you will see perfect love!

 

This Father’s Day, I’m going to ask you to turn it around and change your perception of God the Father. He is not an upgraded version of your earthly father, good or bad, He is the Ultimate Father, so let’s look at what that means for all of us…

 

 

HOW DOES GOD SEE YOU?

 

 

When God looks at you, He has eyes of pure love. David, a man after God’s own heart, writes

 

Psalms 17:8

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

 

In Hebrew, the apple of the eye refers to the pupil, the most delicate, the most precious part. It means you are the most precious part to Him, and hiding in the shadow of your wings is all about His love for you and longing to protect you, care for you, bless you.

 

When God says He loves you, when He says you are precious, valuable and worth many sparrows, when He says He gave His one and only Son for you, this is love of the highest order… this is unconditional love, and this is the love He has for you!

 

1 John 3:1(NIV)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

 

Psalms 68:5-6

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, God sets the lonely in families,

 

Are you lonely? Are you burdened? The Father’s Heart is here for you this morning. Let’s look at the characteristics of the perfect Father, your perfect Father, who loves you unconditionally.

 

Remember, He’s not far away and distant. He’s not waiting to inflict punishment on you when you fall, He is loving, caring and closer than a brother. He has plans for you, to prosper you and not to harm you, and this morning this father’s arms are outstretched to you, saying come unto me.

 

THE PERFECT FATHER’S HEART

 

We’ve said God is the perfect Father, but how can we know this? We know the Father’s heart by His Word, and one of the best illustrations for this is this parable…

 

Luke 15:11-24

 

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

So what are the characteristics of the Fathers Heart?

 

1.     THE FATHER’S HEART LOVES UNCONDITIONALLY

 

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

I cannot even begin to express the depth of God’s love for you. His love is undeserved by any of us, yet it is unconditional and greater than any power in the universe.

 

I talked last week about Christians having God’s unconditional love for those who we don’t agree with or who persecute us. Unconditional love means exactly that… it does not depend on what you have done, said or thought. It’s there, it’s love, it’s for you and you cannot sin enough to lose it.

 

Does this mean everyone goes to heaven? No, it means that all of us deserve hell, but God’s mercy and love is there to make a way for us to get to heaven… by accepting His Son. If you don’t receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you will go to hell, and it will break God’s fatherly heart, because He loves you unconditionally. He still loves you if you choose to reject His Son and heap those consequences upon your own head. He never stops loving you.

 

If He accepted sinful people into heaven, heaven would be hell! We deserve hell, but God in His great love offers a way out, a way to connect again with Him…

 

In the parable, the father loves his son, even when the son rejects him and blows the family fortune on his own pleasures. At home, abroad, in a brothel or a pig style, the father’s love never changes!

 

John 3:16

 

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

 

But hang on a minute, some will say, doesn’t He punish us when we step out of line? Doesn’t bad things happen even to good people? Let’s examine this important question, because some of us need to recognise that unconditional love doesn’t equal a nice, comfortable life. Remember, the symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion!

 

God is a loving Father, and any loving father will allow you to feel the consequences of your sin, and He will allow discipline. He is more interested in our character than our comfort, but He does limit the hardship we face.

 

Hebrews 12:5-6

 “My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 

Have you ever met a child who hasn’t been disciplined? If you haven’t, go to a supermarket and observe! Kids do step out of line, and kids do need to experience consequences for actions. So do we, but if you are going through difficulty right now, it is not the Lord punishing you, leaving you alone to suffer. He is there with you, walking with you, loving you and protecting you. That’s what a father does. However hard, however discouraged you might be, the Father’s Heart is what makes Him walk this road with you, right beside you, unconditionally loving you and seeing you through!

 

I remember my children trying to walk. They took a few steps then fell, and so I grabbed a cricket bat and beat them… wait, no I didn’t. I helped them up, dusted them off and encouraged them to try again. This is the heart of a father… this is your Heavenly Father’s heart!

 

 

2.     THE FATHER’S HEART WANTS THE BEST FOR US

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

 

Every person comes into this world with sealed orders… a plan God has for your life. And it’s a great plan, one to prosper you and not cause you harm. A plan giving you a hope and a future, a destiny, the life you long to live. Even if you sin, even if you walk away, God still has His purposes for your life. You may have walked away from God, you may have lost your destiny, but if you come back to Him you can discover it again.

 

Many of you have had a father who, let’s be frank, put himself first many times. As have you at times. But most earthly fathers want the best for their children. I know I have always wanted my girls to become all they want to be. I’ve always wanted them to marry a Christian. I always prayed for them to come to Christ. Even earthly fathers want the best for you!

 

But none of the, have the resources that your Heavenly Father does, right?

 

You are not an accident. You are not a fluke. You are created in the image of God, and He loves you, and has a purpose for your life. Ask Jesus into your life, and you become a child of God, and you begin to move towards the great destiny He has planned for you!

 

He is not out to punish you, not out to hurt you, not out to limit or control you… He wants the very best for you! But wanting the best for you doesn’t mean granting you every request you make! If you truly love God as a Father, you must trust Him with every request, to grant or not according to His infinite and loving will. He knows everything, we don’t… simple as that!

 

You can choose to walk away, choose to throw His perfect plan for your life back at Him. Listen, today if you repent and come to Christ, the plan is back on. Look at your life… tell me, are you fulfilled? Have you reached your destiny, or fallen short? Come to the Father today and it’s game on!

 

 

3.     THE FATHER’S HEART NEVER LOSES HOPE

 

 

But we sin, don’t we. We are selfish and want what we want. We do what’s right for us. But no matter what you’ve done, no matter how you’ve sinned, God never gives up on you…

 

1 Peter 1:3-4

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,

 

You are God’s special child, and also His special project, and He is faithful… He will never give up on you! You sin, you reject Him, you disobey Him, and He never gives up on you. If you turn to the Father today, He’s will forgive and complete His plan in your life.

 

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

He won’t stop if you won’t! He’ll see it through to completion if you will walk with Him.

 

4.     THE FATHER’S HEART IS ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR US

 

Luke 15:20

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 

All that time the wayward child was away, self indulging and sinning as much as he could, the Father was waiting, looking, praying… the Father saw him from afar, and rushed to welcome the prodigal son home. All that time, He was waiting expectantly, looking, believing for a change of heart.

 

God sees everything, so you can’t surprise Him. Think your sin drives Him away? You think that if you sin in the dark maybe He doesn’t see?Hardly!

 

Our excuses are often so pathetic, because He know the truth. As a child my daughter Kira raided the Easter eggs one day and we caught her face covered in chocolate, sitting with her doll in a sea of glittering paper. She blamed her doll for doing it… but we knew! That’s how feeble our denials are to a Father who sees and knows it all!

 

 

And loves us anyway… Paul attacked Christians, murdered and persecuted them, and God sought him out! David committed adultery, murder, etc. and God used him and promised him one of his descendants will always reign.

 

Picture this… in your darkest moment of sin, in your greatest time of shame, your Father is watching, waiting, longing for you to turn to Him. He doesn’t like what He sees you do, but He loves you!

 

No matter what you’ve done, no matter how selfish or sinful or horrible you’ve been, God your Father is looking out for you, waiting for you, loving you. He’s looking at you right now, waiting for that change of heart, waiting to lavish upon you life and life to the full. Will you push Him away again this morning, or is today the day you give Him the best Father’s Day?

 

 

5.     THE FATHER’S HEART RESPONDS TO REPENTANCE

 

Your Heavenly Father waits for you to respond. Many believers look at the Father and see Him as judgemental, punishing them for their failings. And Yes, one day He will judge us and yes, sometimes He let’s us experience the consequences of our sin, but always behind this is the heart of a loving Father, eagerly waiting for you to turn to Him!

 

2 Peter 3:9

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

 

In Greek, repentance is metanoia , which means a complete reversal of one’s mind, a 180 degree turn, not veering slightly to the good side. It doesn’t mean being sorry for being caught. It’s far deeper than that. The same word is used in

 

2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

 

You and I have sinned, even as believers we sin. If we sin, our conscience weighs heavily upon us, and we regret what we’ve done, especially if we are caught. This regret can and will destroy you. So many carry a burden of regret within of things they’ve said and done that fills them with sorrow and kills their joy in life.

 

But when we bring them to God, when we repent just like the prodigal son, He promises…

 

1 John 1:9

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

 

Listen the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. They both are Holy, they both punish sin, but they both long to show mercy to you and me.

 

Repentance might be painful, it might humble you, but it actually sets you free in a way you have never experienced before. The burden of sin is lifted, the fear of consequences is removed, the joy of the Lord is restored and life, life to the full is the result.

 

Want to give your Heavenly Father a gift this Father’s Day? Repent and seek Him today! The Father’s heart responds to repentance, every time!

 

 

6.     THE FATHER’S HEART WANTS TO RESTORE US

 

The true aim of the heart of the Father is to restore us. The prodigal returned home hoping at best to just be a servant, but the father restored him to sonship. The brother didn’t understand this. He got mad at the father, demanding his brother be taught a lesson.

 

But the father, his eyes were only on restoring his wayward son. Not punishing, not teaching him a lesson, but restoring him. And that’s God’s promise to you…

 

Joel 2:25

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

 

Restoration means making something like the years of neglect never happened. Sin is a locust, it eats everything, it slowly destroys you from the inside out. Restore a car and it is like the day it rolled off the showroom floor, and that’s what God promises you.

 

Those years you’ve wandered away from Him, those years you disobeyed, messed your life up, the pain you caused others, the pain you caused yourself… God is in the restoration business, and today He is calling you home.

 

FATHER’S DAY IS THE DAY TO SHOW YOUR FATHER YOU LOVE HIM

 

No one could really say why he ran away. Or perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did. Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain with hopes of entering into a profession that would most likely get him killed – bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid , so instead he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal. The advertisement read,

“Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”

Paco is such a common name in Spain that when the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers…and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!

 

 

 

It’s Father’s Day, wayward son and daughter, so what are you going to do? Are you going to take your inheritance and run away to blow it on what you think is a good life? You going to ignore Him and keep doing what you want? Maybe you’ve done that already and have finished in a pig style of a life. Are you happy to sit among the pigs eating the scraps, or are you sensing the call home to your Father?

 

When the prodigal son turned his face towards home he was humbled, he was broken, he was as the end of his hope. He returned home desperate, hoping at best to just be a servant. But the Father had a surprise for him, and this morning, if you humble yourself and return to the Father, He has a surprise for you too…

 

Galatians 4:6-7

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

 

Come home as a servant, become a son or daughter of the King of Kings. You are chosen, you are royalty, you are the apple of His eye, you are the favoured one of the Fathers Heart!

 

Come home to Him today!

00:0000:00

Mind Viruses 5- The Tolerance Virus

August 29, 2017

We’ve looked at these mind viruses over the last few weeks, but of all the viruses we will look at this one is perhaps the virus of this present age.  Mind viruses are those programs the devil implants into our psyche via our society which influence the way we live, the things we do and the attitudes we have.

 

Remember, these viruses are small programs planted in our culture and society that can dramatically affect our thoughts, words, actions and feelings. They do this by affecting our subconscious, so often you won’t even be aware of the effects of this virus, but they are taking control of your life.

 

We’ve looked at the love of the world virus, rampant consumerism which we all experience. We’ve seen that, despite technology and social media, the loneliness virus affects more people than ever before. We’ve also examined the stress virus, which affects us all and kills some of us.

 

But today we look at a virus gaining power, the spirit of our age and this virus is called the tolerance virus, and to date this virus is winning because it affects not only you and I but also those with power and position.

 

The constant mantra in the media and social media that we must be tolerant. We must tolerate everybody’s views and opinions, and challenging them is the cardinal sin against society.

 

If what I say in this message offends you, chances are you are infected by this mind virus. The pressure to accept this virus from our society, especially the media, is greater than ever before.

 

Luke 17:26

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.

 

A couple of prowlers broke into a department store in a large US city. . . . They took nothing. But what they did was ridiculous. Instead of stealing anything, they changed the cost of everything. Price tags were swapped. Values were exchanged. These clever pranksters took the tag off a $395 camera and stuck it on a $5.00 box of stationery. The $5.95 sticker on a paperback book was removed and placed on an outboard motor. They repriced everything in the store!

 

Crazy? You bet. But the craziest part of this story took place the next morning. The store opened as usual. Employees went to work. Customers began to shop. Many bargains were had. The place functioned as normal for four hours before anyone noticed what had happened.

 

You might think life goes on as normal, but I believe we face the greatest moral crisis in our history. They’re trying to change the tags, and we need to recognise and take a stand against the virus of this age!

 

THE TOLERANCE VIRUS- TODAY MORE THAN EVER

 

I’m going to use a lot of material Pastor James McPherson used in a recent convention, because I think he really has a perspective on this, and you as believers need to have your eyes open to the sinister, powerful and destructive nature of the tolerance virus. I’m not going to tell you what to vote in the plebiscite, I want instead to look at what is behind the issues.

 

I cannot recall a more emotionally charged issue we have had to face as a church than same sex marriage. But recognise that this is not the whole issue, it’s just a symptom of this virus.

 

This mind virus tells us, in the media, by politicians, by our friends and all over Facebook, that we must be tolerant. We are told that all people, from gays to transgenders to Muslims to environmentalists, have a right, an almost divine right, to express themselves and be whatever or whoever they want to be. Tolerance preaches that we must accept them, everything they say and everything they want to do, because that’s who they are. Our media is tolerant to every group and opinion. From gays to transgender to sex workers, and from Muslims to atheists to New Agers.

 

The media is tolerant to every group in society… except Christians! And folks this is going to get worse before it gets better. I believe that we will see more persecution of Christians in our country in the next 5 years than we have seen in the past 200 years.

 

A Muslim girl shares her beliefs and its, “You’re so brave to share your heart, good on you.”

A Christian shares even an opinion and its, “You’re a bleep, bleep prejudicial bigot!”

 

Christians have not attacked, sworn at, slandered or mocked by supporters of gay marriage. And Media people like Tim Minchin can produce a song full of swearing and cursing attacking Bible based Christians called “I Still Call Australia Homophobic”, he can call us all sorts of despicable, sexually based insults but we, apparently, are the bigots, not the guy swearing and cursing at us!

 

In fact things have degraded to the point where perhaps the greatest sin of the modern world is not sexual deviancy, paedophilia, robbery, adultery or murder, it’s having an opinion that is different to the perceived majority, or rather the loudest minority. Society will tolerate slave labour if the products are cheap enough, Muslim customs and eating habits if it pays well enough, and blatantly hyper-sexual gay mardi-gras, but it will not tolerate a Christian with an opinion. They call us narrow minded, prejudice, bigoted, sexist, racist or just plain ignorant, yet have a look at the media and you’ll see that one side is slandering, mocking and reviling, attacking without mercy or respect, and it’s not Christians!  And all the time the big winner is satan as this tolerance virus digs itself deeper and deeper into our collective subconsciousness!

 

STOP LIMPING?

 

Let’s look at 1 Kings 18, at Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. You probably know the story, but I want to highlight something just before the big showdown, how 2 men of God faced the degradation of society in their day…

 

Elijah was standing against great evil. And that great evil of Baal worship, manifest in the form of King Ahab and Jezebel, attacked him, in fact were hunting him down!

 

1 Kings 18:10

As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you.

 

Obadiah did things differently. He was part of the royal court, caught up in all the goings on. He was a good man, but part of the royal court, weak and afraid, so he hid and fed 100 of God’s prophets.

 

1 Kings 18:13

Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?

 

He did not oppose publicly like Elijah, but as part of the establishment , without forsaking his privileged position, he did what he could.

 

And that is what we see today with the tolerance virus… some stand up and say no and get mercilessly attacked, while others float along and try and quietly, winsomely do what they can to not conform.  They try and stay comfortable but do a bit to oppose it. But if we are to ever combat this virus, we have to have an opinion, and it has to be Biblical. Not my opinion, not yours, not Pauline Hanson or Bill Shorten or anybody else… the Bible is our standard!

 

On Mount Carmel in the big showdown, Elijah said this, and it is still powerful today…

 

1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

 

That word limp is apt, because in Hebrew the word means dance. How many Christians are dancing between God’s opinion and the world’s. Flipping from one to the other, tossed here and there by the latest opinion on Facebook. Today, church, is the day we stop dancing, the day we stop limping, the day we drive a flag into the sunburnt soil of this country and say “Enough!” And listen, if you are reading Facebook and watching the news more than reading your Bible, you have no chance because you won’t even be sure of God’s opinion!

 

 

HOW DO YOU TEST A SOCIAL IDEA?

 

You can ridicule people, you can kill them, you can silence them, but you cannot silence an idea, good or bad. So how do you examine an idea to see if it is true or not? One great way is to take it to the logical extreme and see if it holds true.

 

For example, the idea that salvation is available to all who repent…

 

2 Peter 3:9

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

 

So, if you repent can you be saved? Yes. What about if a murderer repents? Yes. Ok, what about a mass murderer, say Ted Bundy? Yes apparently he did that. Ok, what about Adolf Hitler? The answer again is yes, just or not, God’s promises holds true.

 

Now let’s watch this fascinating video where the same logic is applied to some of the social questions we currently face…

 

VIDEO

 

So if someone talks about homosexuality, they say it’s OK to be gay, because that’s how you were born and you always have a right to express who you really are. That’s fine. Let’s push it a little further. That means that if you’re a paedophile, you should also have the right to express that. If you’re a psychopath, perhaps you have the right to kill whoever you want, right? I mean, you’re just expressing your inner, natural tendencies, right? The tolerance argument doesn’t hold.

 

Now before some of you get offended, I’m not trying to upset you, or to equate gayness with mass murder.. We are not talking about the issue, but the logic behind the issue. I’m just saying the idea that having certain tendencies gives you the divine right to express and pursue them anywhere, any time isn’t logical. Good and decent behaviour in society through the ages has been built on people not giving full vent to their inner tendencies, but apparently not today!

 

 

SYMPTOMS OF THE TOLERANCE VIRUS

 

So what are the symptoms of this virus we see today?

 

1.     WE DON’T BELIEVE FACTS, WE BELIEVE SLOGANS, AND FAMOUS PEOPLE

 

Advertising has know for years that slogans get into your subconscious mind, just like a virus. Many people put their minds on autopilot and just believe slogans, that master manipulators have designed to let the virus into our minds.

 

Let’s test this…who do you think of when I say, lower prices are just the beginning. Just do it. Finger lickin’ good. You can’t beat the real thing. Even from decades ago, it puts a Rose in every cheek. A little dab will do ya… now here’s a modern one…

 

Marriage equality: does that mean I can have 5 wives? Can I marry my 5 year old niece?

 

Love is love: does that mean I can marry my cat?

 

Al Gore said, The science is settle: famously used about climate change, but thousands of scientists say it is far from settled!

 

Another interesting fact of modern life is that we listen to the opinions of celebrities and sports people, as if they are experts in another field.

 

So a famous singer has a political opinion… a famous sports person has a comment on a moral issue. What in the world makes us think that the opinion of people qualified in one area automatically are qualified in a completely unrelated area!

 

Bruce Springsteen thinks Donald Trump is a moron. He’s entitled to his opinion, but he doesn’t hold a political science degree. Hugh Jackman says, “Australia is at its best when we value equality over prejudice and fear. Gay marriage will benefit marriage by allowing it to embrace more loving committed couples who uphold its values.” Great actor, but is he the moral compass of our country?

 

Notice the choice he gives you… equality, or prejudice and fear. You’re either tolerant or a prejudicial, fearful bigot, and heaven forbid you express an opinion contrary to what the celebrities believe!

 

Many Christians fall victim to the tolerance virus, not because they don’t believe in God or want to make a stand for Him, but because they are just too confused by the biased media barrage to know what they believe about anything!

 

Ephesians 4:14-15

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

 

2.     OUR OPINIONS CHANGE EVERY YEAR

 

 

If you are governed and influenced by the tolerance virus, your opinions will change every year, depending on who is in power, or who is speaking out. Society changes its opinion Year by year, and you will fall victim to that if popular opinion is the yardstick you use.

 

Moral standards are in decline, because people like you and me no longer give them strength. What use to be called perverted is now an alternative lifestyle, what use to be hard core porn is now acceptable in movies. The tolerance virus uses movies and TV, books, songs and the Internet to change the way we think. Telling you you’re either tolerant of everything, or a prejudicial bigot! But,

 

Hebrews 13:8-9

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace,

 

The sad fact is that today we no longer have truth, we have only the truth of the moment, which is fashion!

 

Someone once tried to insult me for my Biblical opinions saying, “The problem is that instead of looking at the Bible through society, you look at society through the Bible!” I thanked them, because this is exactly what we need today. If you look at the Bible through society, things change every year. But the Bible stands forever, and looking at society through the Bible gives a stable perspective!

 

 

3.     WE ARE EASILY OFFENDED

 

Get on Facebook today and say that you do not support Gay marriage, and watch how aggressively and caustically you will be attacked, in under 10 minutes by people you’ve never heard of! Our society is becoming as unforgiving as Islamic militants. Remember Salmon Rushdi? He wrote a book called the Satanic Verses, offended The Islamic faith, and had a death sentence pronounced on him. I recently saw a poster saying, “Beheading for all who insult the prophet!” Did you know more than 100 Aussie young men have gone off to join these jihadists? And we are told to be tolerant of this religion of peace!

 

Fiona and I have been attacked on social media several times in the last 6 months, despite being totally innocent. We’ve been told we are hypocrites, we’ve been sworn at told we are unworthy of being pastors and even threatened physically. And it’s not just Christians being attacked. One football blogger recently had death threats made against him because he passed an opinion on a player. As a society, we are so easily offended and that’s part of the action of the tolerance virus! And what’s more, people are taking offence for others, not themselves. The people offended and attacking Christians on the gay marriage issue aren’t even gay themselves! According to Roy Morgan research, just over 3% of Australians consider themselves gay.

 

Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.

 

A sign of Christian maturity is not being easily offended. And when you are offended, you respond in a measured, godly way, not in a raging rant on social media!

 

 

4.     WE LOVE NOVELTY

 

With war, terrorism, moral issues and finances to speak about, todays’s tolerance virus wants you to focus on the trivial and novelties of this world.

 

Dozens of Christians killed by Muslim extremists in a 2017 bus attack, rates barely a mention. But a guy convincing his sister of a zombie apocalypse or a rescued goat who wants to wear a duck costume goes viral and gets thousands of clicks.

 

While the Internet was nearly broken by stories about Harambe the gorilla, Kim Kardashian and a soccer mom wearing a Chewbacca mask, we hear barely a peep about the confirmed 1207 Christians murdered this year alone by Muslim extremists. In fact, we champion being tolerant to Muslims and gays, but how tolerant are Muslims to Christians or gays in Muslim countries. Here’s a fact…of the top 10 countries where you can be killed for being gay (forget the marriage thing), all 10 are Muslim.

 

Today we love novelty so much that trivial pursuit is not just a board game, it’s a lifestyle!

 

Colossians 3:2

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

 

5.     WE CANNOT SEPARATE LOVE FROM APPROVAL

 

Our society offers only this choice… do you approve of everything I do, or do you hate me? This extreme thinking overlooks the true nature of love, and the substance of Christ’s love for all of us.

 

How many of you recognise that you can love your children, but not agree with everything they do and not give them everything they think they want?

 

I was talking to a young girl who is transgendering, and she asked if I still loved her, and will I support her decision. I said yes and no. Yes I love you unconditionally, no matter what, but no, I do not support in any way your decision. I explained that my love for her is independent of my agreeing with her.

 

Romans 12:9-10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; (IT DOESN’T SAY TOLERATE EVIL) hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.

 

Frankly, church, we have not excelled at separating love and approval. If we disapprove, we reject the person, just as they choose to reject us. Look at that verse… we need to love those we disagree with, unconditionally, but that does not mean we approve of them, their decisions, their sin or their lifestyles. We say we hate the sin and love the sinner, but in practical terms this has always been difficult.

 

According to our society, which is heavily infected by the tolerance virus, to love a gay person or a Muslim or a Catholic or anybody else, we must approve of everything they do, or at least tolerate it. We have a glaring need today to separate love and approval.

 

Fiona and I once attended a dinner hosted by gay friends of ours. Yes, your pastor has gay friends! When they learned that I was in ministry, one of the guys took me aside and asked if I approved of his lifestyle. Put on the spot, I prayed a quick prayer and said this. “No, I don’t approve of your lifestyle, but then again, my lifestyle is traveling around the world preaching about Jesus, which I don’t think you approve of. So if we both let our disapproval go, can’t we just be mates?” He said it was the best answer he had ever heard. We are firm friends to this day.

 

In reality, my approval or disapproval meant little. What my friend really wanted, and what I gave him, was love, acceptance and respect. That’s what most people want. You can love these folk, care for them, respect them and honour them without approving of their lifestyle choices. The tolerance virus doesn’t say this, but Christ does, and who are you going to believe?

 

WE ARE THERMOMETERS NOT THERMOSTATS

 

Christians are called to be salt and light to a dying world, but instead of setting the moral temperature we are just measuring and reflecting it. We are no longer thermostats, we are simply thermometers. We abdicate responsibility and allow others to set the moral climate.

 

Isaiah 58:1

 “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

 

How can we sit by idle quietly conforming to the world then wonder why the moral fabric of society is falling apart? Look at any civilisation or culture in history, the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, right through until today, and you will find that the decline of their civilisation is preceded by a moral decline. And our nation will be no different! We’re practically there now!

 

2 Timothy 3:12

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

 

It’s time we stood up and said enough is enough, even if we are attacked and insulted! But we need to do so in love, genuine, respectful, honouring love. I don’t agree with you, but I still love you.

 

 

SO HOW CAN WE TREAT THE TOLERANCE VIRUS?

 

According to Pastor James McPherson, our society has deified tolerance and demonised intolerance.

 

We are told that tolerance is always right, and our media is tolerant to everybody, from gays to transgenders, from Muslims to atheists, except a Christian with an opinion. But, argues Ps James, we need to be tolerant of people, but intolerant of ideas. What does this mean?

 

Tolerance applies to people. Jesus, our great example, loved and accepted people, and was roundly criticised by religious people for dining with sinners…

 

Luke 15:2

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

 

 

Jesus then goes on to share the parable of the lost sheep. Clearly He tolerated sinners, prostitutes, etc. he cared, He loved, He reached out to them, He didn’t despise them!

 

Tolerance must always be applied to people, but intolerance must only be applied to bad ideas.

 

The reason our roads are somewhat safe is that police are intolerant to speeding and running red lights. Imagine if they tolerate such behaviour… the roads would be bedlam. Christ dying on the cross doesn’t mean that God suddenly tolerates sin. He is Holy, so totally intolerant of sin, but Jesus hung on nails for 6 hours one Friday and gave His life because He was tolerant of people… nails didn’t hold Him there, love held Him there! He loves us, despite what we have done, but that doesn’t mean He gives us licence to continue in our sin!

 

You cannot cure the tolerance virus by being tolerant of bad ideas or intolerant of people. We will not win by abusing people more than they are currently abusing us. There is only one way ahead for us church…

 

WE HAVE TO COUNTERACT THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE...

 

The spirit of the age preaches tolerance, but then attacks aggressively those who oppose their message. Attacking them back achieves nothing… we have to find a better way.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

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

 

We are not to cower in fear when these tolerance issues come up. But according to this verse we are to show love towards all, power in our unity and solidarity together and a sound mind… a sound mind is intolerance to evil ideas, but this must be set alongside our tolerance towards even those who sin, and even those who attack us!

 

You can’t beat this virus by attacking them back more than they attack you!  Our greatest strength is the love of Christ.

 

For too long we have been intolerant of people because we have a firm belief in the things of God. We’ve hated both the sin and the sinner. We haven’t said that, but that’s how we have acted. We must never stop standing for what God says is right, but we have to temper this with love and respect.

 

But the flip side is not that we become spineless and weak willed…

 

Ephesians 4:14-15

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

We need to stand unmoved by the seas that rage around us. But we need also to stand in love

 

I’m not going to tell you what to vote for in this plebiscite. Let your conscience and God’s Word show you the truth. But I will tell you that, as a pastor, I will not be marrying gay couples, I will not be allowing them to marry in our church. However I  will continue to reach out to and love friends who are gay, transgender, Muslim, Hindu or anything. I will commit to loving them and praying for them, respecting them as people and treating them with respect, even when they venomously attack me and slander me, but I will never agree with them because to me, God’s Word is clear.

 

THE CHALLENGE

 

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Today in Australia the tolerance virus wants you to conform to the pattern of this world. This morning I’m going to ask you to instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How? My challenge is this today…

 

  1. Will you commit to knowing the mind of Christ more by reading His Word, so there is no confusion?
  2. Will you commit to loving those who persecute you, no matter how vile or venomous the slander is?
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God’s Incomparable Power- Pastor Keith

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Join Pastor Keith as he speaks on God's incomparable power for us who believe.  This message will build your faith and have you reaching for the heavens!

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Believing for Miracles with Pastor Nev

August 23, 2017

An inspiring message by Ps Nev about believing in miracles, and who among us doesn't need to hear this message?

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