Choices 4- Breaking Bad Habits

May 21, 2018

We’ve been talking about making right choices, because your destiny is not floating around out there, it is the sum of all the choices you make. Therefore, if you get into the habit of making the right choices time and again, you will certainly move towards your destiny. And if you consistently make bad choices, you will lose your destiny.

 

Today I want to take our discussion about choices to the next level, where making wise or foolish choices becomes involuntary, it becomes what we call a habit!

 

CREATURES OF HABIT

 

Dictionary.com defines a habit as, “a long, loose garment worn by a member of a religious order,” or, “an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”

 

2 Peter 2:19 (ESV Strong's)

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

 

Habits enslave you, of that there is no doubt. So understanding how to make or break habits is an important skill for spiritual growth, because habits drive behaviour, which in turn forms character.

 

We all have habits, every one of us. So let’s look at how we can break the bad habits and establish the good ones, which will result in increasing godliness and spiritual power in our lives. Remember, you will be slaves to either good or bad habits, so let’s pick good!

 

HOW HABITS HAPPEN

 

Habits don’t happen overnight, they come about slowly, layer upon layer. At the start we consciously do a task, but as we do it over and over it becomes automatic, without thinking about it.

 

So habits can be good, like brushing your teeth, or God, like reading the Bible. They can also be bad, like eating junk food, or sinful, like lying.  But all of them come about through repeatedly doing the action, until the action becomes the master, and instead of you driving it, the habit drives you!

 

Romans 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

 

So good habits formed become righteousness, and bad habits become sin, and you will serve one or other of these masters, and these in turn will form you character.  So let’s first look at how we can break bad habits and then look at how we create good ones.

BREAKING BAD

 

Negative habits have negative effects on our lives, but they can be broken. God wants us to break bad habits, and here’s the thing, if you love the Lord and you persist in negative habits, He loves you so much He will break them off your life if you don’t, and this inevitably involves pain!

 

So here are 8 keys towards breaking bad habits….

 

1.      IDENTIFY THE HABIT

 

Some bad habits are bad for everyone, such as drug taking, but some have effects that vary from person to person.  Staying up late might be a bad habit for one person because they are brain dead the next morning, but another person might find they can achieve more once the rest of the house has gone to bed. So how do you know which habit you need to eliminate?

 

Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

 

Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and reveal what needs to be changed. This is not a once off process, but over time He will reveal more and more to us. Maybe make a list of the recurring troubles in your life and then try to identify patterns of behaviour that might cause or contribute to the problems.

 

 

2.      RECOGNISE THE HABIT LOOP

 

Every habit, good of bad, has what is called a habit loop. This consists of a trigger, a routine and a reward. The trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and begin the routine, which is the behaviour itself. The final step is the reward, something that satisfies your brain and helps it remember the “habit loop.”

 

So if the bad habit is gossiping, the trigger could be hearing a negative about someone else. The routine is that you begin speaking of this to others, often using a way to dress it up like , “please pray for so and so,” and the reward is the joy with which the other person receives it, treating you like you are and ace reporter with a scoop. Trigger, routine, reward.

 

Hosea 8:7 (ESV Strong's)

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.

 

Very often the reward you reap is not the one you think you’re getting. The actual reward for gossip is a bad reputation, so we need to deal with the true reward, which the devil will always try and hide from you. The immediate reward for the alcoholic is a high, but the true, long term reward is addiction and destruction of their life, and those around them!

 

3.      CHANGE THE TRIGGER

 

Sometimes a negative habit can be overcome by simply changing the trigger. One very common bad habit is breaking a conversation to check your texts. You know, when you are talking to someone and you get the little sound that tells you you have a text. Putting your phone on silent until the conversation is over can remove the trigger. Let me paraphrase this text

 

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV Strong's)

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many texts, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and her phone will not be taken away from her.”

 

Being distracted is a common bad habit, and concentrating on what’s important and removing other possible distractions or triggers is a great way to address it.

 

 

4.      CHANGE THE CONTEXT

 

Many bad habits come about in specific contexts. For example, we are more likely to engage in negative habits when we are bored, stressed or seeking to avoid an activity (e.g., procrastinating from work). When you encounter the situation, the habit starts to control you. Paul writes,

 

1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

 “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

 

If your bad habit dominates you in certain situations, simply avoid the situation. If you are eating snack food because you are bored, then keeping yourself occupied can change the context that the habit is latching onto. If you get snappy and irritable when you are stressed, reducing the stress should reduce the irritability.

 

But this can be very hard to do, so an easier way to approach bad habits is this next point…

 

5.      SUBSTITUTE THE HABIT

 

Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV Strong's)

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?

Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

 

Changing a bad habit is often easier said than done. You cannot just snap your fingers and remove something that has been controlling you, enslaving you, often without you even realising.

 

One great idea that can help if you’re being dominated by a bad habit is to reengineer the habit loop by replacing the bad habit with a good or less bad habit. You don’t change the trigger, just the resulting habit.

 

Psychologist John Bargh recognised he had a drinking problem, and that alcohol was beginning to control his life. He also knew that trying to remove the bad habit of drinking is often extremely hard, so instead of trying to remove it, when he felt the urge for a drink he replaced the drink with a lollipop. Instead of punishing himself for wanting a drink. He rewarded himself with a sugar hit. Later he found it easy to dispense with the lollipop, and never went back to drinking.

 

 

 

6.      BE ACCOUNTABLE

 

Accountability is a great asset when it comes to stopping a bad habit. Having someone who calls you and asks specifically how you are doing with the task keeps you honest and on track, because you dread having to own up that you are failing!

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

 

If you are struggling with a bad habit, share it with someone you trust, and be accountable. If you fall your friend can help you up. If you struggle your friend can help encourage you. That’s what Church should be, so don’t struggle on alone with a bad habit… phone a friend!

 

7.      NEVER GIVE UP

 

Bad habits are often very hard to shift, but don’t give up.  Remember, any habit that is not of God and is controlling you instead of you controlling it is sin.

 

So, even if you struggle and fall, get up and keep going, because God wants you to become all you can be in the Lord…

 

James 1:4 (ESV Strong's)

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

8.      PRAY AND STAY- THE BIG KEY

 

You can diagnose the problem, you can isolate the trigger, you can replace the bad habit with a better one, but let’s face it folks, bad habits and addictions can be the most powerful adversaries you face in life! To conquer them, you and I need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives…

 

Romans 8:31 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

You can try to beat bad habits by yourself, and maybe have some success, but I guarantee you that if you pray and seek the Lord, your successes will be amplified. Praying and yielding yourself to God allows Him to do the impossible and conquer these controlling habits.

 

John 15:5 (ESV Strong's)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Apart from Him, you have little chance of beating bad habits. If you pray, if you have others pray with you, if you are accountable, if you trust a God, then you set yourself up for success in conquering bad habits!

 

GOD LOVES YOU.. DEAL WITH IT, OR HE WILL!

 

God loves you so much, and He wants to see you eliminate destructive and sinful habits from your life. If if you don’t deal with bad habits, He will! So my advice to you is to deal with them, sooner rather than  later.

 

Romans 5:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

 

Suffering is one common way God deals with your persistent sins and bad habits. Often the suffering is the direct consequence of what you’ve been doing, and it’s often called, “Getting caught!”…

 

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

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

 

So don’t ignore bad habits, because they fester and get more poisonous, more controlling and more destructive!  Deal with them, or God will deal with you, and you won’t want the suffering and consequences, right?

 

So God promises we can conquer bad habits if we persevere, but how can we establish good habits?

 

GROWING GOOD HABITS

 

Habits are unconscious patterns of behaviour acquired by frequent repetition. We mainly think of bad habits, but good habits can be great sources of joy and power in our lives. Recent studies show that when you do an activity daily, it takes on average 66 days for it to become a good habit, and once it is a habit, it’s a lot easier to do it!

 

Strangely, bad habits are a lot easier to form.

 

Sometimes good habits are “forced upon us” by an authority figure like a teacher or parent, but we can also create good habits in our lives which lead to good and godly decision making.

 

So how we create a good habit in our lives?

 

1.      CHOOSE A GODLY HABIT TO CREATE

 

A new behaviour pattern will be made up of a habit loop… a trigger, a routine and a reward. So if you want to create positive habits in your life, don’t let these evolve, sit and plan them (write them down). Identify the habit you want to establish, and consciously and deliberately set yourself up.

 

Start with choosing one habit, not 10! So what positive habit do you want to develop?

 

 

2.      IDENTIFY THE TRIGGER

 

Research has shown that almost all habitual cues or triggers fit into one of five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people and whatever immediately precedes the action.

 

A helpful cue to establish a good habit is to take advantage of as many of these categories as possible. 

 

For my quiet time, I have it at the same time every day, before others are up, in the same comfortable chair, with a cup of coffee and my iPad.

 

Mark 1:35 (ESV Strong's)

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

 

 

3.      CREATE A REWARD

 

Galatians 6:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Now we know that long term there are good rewards for good habits. So why should you be rewarded for doing something you should be doing anyway? Isn’t the habit—such as your devotional reading—a reward in itself?

 

You might feel guilty about creating another reward for a good habit. But in this you are not rewarding yourself for doing the action, you’re training your brain to create a neurological craving.

 

When I do my quiet time, I reward myself with a cup of most excellent coffee. I’ve found that this forms part of the habit, that I feel most unrewarded about it if I just have the quiet time without the coffee! A short term reward often reinforces the long term reward. And when God speaks out of my quiet time, which He often does, I receive a bountiful reward!

 

4.      MAKE IT PART OF YOUR LIFE

 

Routine is your big helper here, because when you start to create the good habit, it is very conscious and thus not a habit at all yet.

 

Doing things over and over moves the conscious action into a subconscious habit. When you do this enough it becomes part of your life, and long term rewards naturally follow (consequences). Paul said,

 

1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

This is training yourself towards godliness, establishing good and godly habits and choices.

 

 

5.      START SMALL AND RECOVER QUICK

 

Many times we fail to establish godly habits in our lives because we start too big and then get discouraged before we develop the good habit. What experts call mini-habits can be very helpful. It is better to do a little bit every day, than a whole lot once a week.

 

If you can’t manage the Bible Reading Plan... the two readings take around 5 Minutes a day… just do the second reading. If you can’t handle memorising Scripture, start by memorise one verse. If you find it too hard to pray every day, pray every time you sit on the loo! Start small and build on that.

 

And if you start and fail at some point, recover quickly. In the Bible reading plan, of you miss too many days you will find yourself faced with reading 27 chapters to catch up. Don’t do it. Skip a bunch and start again. Better that than you failing and walking away, right?

 

Yes it’s hard to establish good habit, and yes it takes effort, but this habit pleases God and yields long term fruit…

 

Matthew 7:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

 

JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

 

We will all be judged, Christians and unbelievers. For unbelievers, they face the judgment of the Great White Throne in Revelation, where God with a broken heart will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” They have rejected Jesus and His sacrifice for them and they go to eternal death in hell.

 

Revelation 20:15 (ESV Strong's)

And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

But believers also face judgment. Let me make it clear, we are saved, we are going to heaven. But we will still be judged…

 

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV Strong's)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

Jesus will weigh up our sin, things we have said, done and thought, and we will receive a reward, or not. That’s why I consider it essential that we establish good habits and destroy bad habits in our lives now!  We need to habitually make good decisions, not bad decisions!  It’s an ongoing process, and we may never arrive, but if we trust the Lord and obey Him, our lives will change to become more Christlike.

 

1 Corinthians 3 talks of this… where Paul talks about the foundation of Christ (11), and believers building on this foundation with either gold, silver or costly stones, wood hay or straw. Then at the judgement seat, fire will ignite them and tests their quality. Verse 15 says this…

 

1 Corinthians 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

So let me make it clear again, believers are saved and going to heaven. But our acts will be judged and rewarded appropriately. So what are you building into your life? Wood, hay and straw of selfish choices and destructive habits, or gold, silver and costly stones of godly decisions and good habits?

 

IT STARTS WITH A CHOICE

 

Remember, destiny is a series of choices, so you need to start right now by making a conscious choice to please God. Starting new good habits is hard, but breaking bad habits is far harder!

 

Destroying a bad habit or establishing a good habit starts with a choice, a decision. I want all of us to make a decision this morning. Choose one bad habit you want to remove from your life. Ask God.

 

Psalm 139:23-24.

 

I believe many here are struggling with bad habits, maybe habits no one knows about.

 

Today is the day you are set free from these destructive habits. Today is the day we’re breaking bad!   So whatever that habit is, remember the key point is to pray for Holy Spirit power to break it and have other stand with you.

 

You don’t have to reveal the habit, but come forward and let our team pray prophetically into breaking bad!

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Being a Great Mother on Mother’s Day

May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day was established in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson after years of campaigning by Mrs Anna Jarvis, and it has since been established around the world as a special day to honour mothers.

 

Becoming a mother is not the same as being a mother. Becoming a mother is a biological process, and it takes only a moment. Being a mother is not so easy, because it is a lifelong commitment for which there is no preparation, no training and often very little help.

 

One woman’s said, “Before I got married I had 3 theories on how to raise children. Now I have 3 children, and no theories!”

 

Being a mum or a dad is a tough job. But we ought to honour them, because this is the first commandment that comes with a direct promise…

 

Exodus 20:12 (ESV Strong's)

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

 

So today I want to highlight motherhood and the awesome role mums play in our lives…

 

MOTHERHOOD- THE WORLD’S MOST UNDERPAID JOB

 

Men, you go out to work and expect to get paid for a job well done. Motherhood has been jointly described as the world’s most underpaid job, or the most highly paid job if you count love and goodwill instead of just money… So check this out…

 

Salary.com conducted a survey in 2010 that attempted to place a monetary value on the work of a stay-at-home mom. They determined that if mothers were to be paid for their ten most common tasks in the home (laundry machine operator, janitor, van driver, computer operator, housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, chief executive officer, psychologist, and facilities manager) they would be paid $117,855.86 per annum. The largest piece of the pie came from overtime pay because a man works from 9 to 5, but a woman’s work is never done.

Milton Berle once quipped, “If evolution is real,  how come mothers only have 2 hands!”

So mums, I hope you feel honoured by that amount of earning power. Maybe you can demand a raise at home! 

But in the meantime, what does God call you to be when you become a mother?

1.      GROWER

 

Psalms 127:3 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

 

Mums, you have given birth to and nurtured your children. Some are still doing this, while others have seen them grow into mature, and sometimes not so mature adults. Your mission in life was to grow your children, and “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

 

But you don’t know what you’re growing! If a farmer grows wheat, he gets wheat. If he plants corn, he doesn’t get cucumbers, he gets corn.

 

But mums, you could be growing a prime minister, or a doctor, or a pastor, or you could be growing another mum, or a drug dealer or possibly even worse, a lawyer. You have no idea, right?

 

Yours is the great challenge, and the great joy of seeing potential realised. When a painter begins to put brush to canvas, and when a musician strums a few chords or sings a few notes, there is tremendous expectation. And when the masterpiece unfolds, or a beautiful song evolves, there is a great sense of accomplishment.

 

Mothers, you are growers and nurturers and you will see rewards as your children grow and mature.

 

2.      TEACHER

 

2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV Strong's)

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

 

Timothy was a great leader in the church, and he was brought to faith by the teaching and influence of his mother and grandmother. Teaching your children is an important job mothers have, and we are not talking about sewing or cooking here… mums need to teach their children about life, about love, about success and about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Mums, we honour you for the way you’ve taught us truths about life.

 

3.      COMFORTER

 

Isaiah 66:13 (ESV Strong's)

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;

 

Whether it’s a skinned knee, a shattered dream or a broken heart, great mums are there to comfort you. Even if they felt their mums never comforted them, great mums still comfort those they love.

 

 

4.      ADVISOR

 

Even today at my age my mother is able to advise me, and I listen. Why? Because she has earned the right to speak into my life, and that’s what great mums do!

 

Proverbs 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching,

 

Mothers, whether you like it or not, tend to have advice on everything. Now we all know the kind of advice mothers give, but I want to share with you a list of things you will likely never hear your mother say…

 

“Just leave all the lights on...it makes the house look more cheery.”

“Let me smell that shirt—Yeah, it’s good for another week.”

“Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day.”

“I know I said no, but if Timmy’s mom says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”

“Come home when you like, the curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.”

“I don’t have a tissue with me...just use your sleeve.”

 

How many of you know that, when facing choices in your life, many times your mother’s advice comes to mind. So mums, be careful what you advise your children, because they take it all in, even if they don’t appear to act upon it.

 

 

5.      COUNCILLOR

 

Proverbs 31:26 (ESV Strong's)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 

Mothers, you have wisdom. It might be worldly wisdom from beneath, or it might be godly wisdom from above.

 

When your mother asks, "Do you want a piece of advice?" it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway.

— ERMA BOMBECK

Many great people, from Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jordon to Liza Minnelli attribute their success to advice their mums gave them.

 

6.      RELEASER

 

Great mums realise that they don’t own their children, they steward them. Many of you older mums are at this point right now. You bring children up the best you can, maybe teach them all about the Lord, but at some point you need to let them go, and they make their own choices, many of which you may not agree with. 

 

I don’t agree with all the decisions my kids make, but I make sure that it never diminishes how much I love them. One of the fallacies of our modern world is that people say if you love me you’ll let me. Listen, you can love someone and still disagree with them.

 

Mothers, you need to be releasers, and release them to the Lord. Samuel’s mother, who had waited so long for a child, prayer so fervently for a child, when she had her first she dedicated him to God…

 

1 Samuel 1:27-28 (ESV Strong's)

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

 

My mother did exactly this. As is typical of me, I was rushing ahead of time into the world at only 6 months, and the doctors told my mum that her waters had broken, and she needed to go home and that I would be born dead unless she remained perfectly still for 3 months. But that night God spoke to her audibly and told her that her womb was healed. When the doctor came in to his horror she was bouncing on the bed, and she told him God had healed her.

 

I was eventually born normally, and she dedicated my life to the service of God, and here I am!

 

Mothers, many of your hearts are breaking for kids gone astray, kids who have rejected Christ. 2 things, first stop blaming yourself. At some point your children make their own decision, and it’s not your fault. But secondly, never stop praying and believing for your children!

 

 

7.      PRAYER

 

A mother’s prayer has saved many a soul, so whatever you do, never give up on your children. Never stop praying for your children…

 

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.

 

Mothers, your prayers are powerful and I know myself, when I was rebelling against my parents, I believe it was the prayers of my mother that kept me from harm and brought me back to God.

 

Prayer of mothers protects their children, just like Mt Pinatubo in 1991 in the eruption, where mothers saved children by laying over them, so your prayers protect your children.

 

 

8.      BELIEVER

 

And finally, never stop believing for your children.

 

Galatians 6:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Mums want to believe in you, whether you believe in you or not. They see the good in their children, even if no one else does.

For example, Hitler’s mum Klara took him to church and wanted him to be a civil servant. Napoleon’s mum was married at 13 and accompanied him into exile on the island of Elba.  Osama Bin Laden’s mum wanted him to stop fighting the west and come home to Saudi like a good boy. Donald Trump described his mum as smart as hell and  he said he's had trouble finding women to marry who compared to his her!

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

 

Mums believe in us when others give up on us. Mums always want the best for their kids and grandkids, as I bet every mum in this room does.

 

So mothers, don’t give up on your kids, no matter how bad you might think they have become.  One of the greatest church fathers in history owed his ministry and life to his mother’s faithfulness…

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

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

My mother was a believer for me too! She believed that the Lord would use me, even when I was wandering far from His ways, and she prayed and believed even when it hurt and when she was discouraged!

 

HOW MUCH?

 

We said before that what mums do is worth $117,855 a year, but in reality it is worth far more than that. Here’s a poem I love, written by Harland Howard and once sung by Tammy Winette…

 

 

 

My little girl came into the kitchen this evenin',
While I was fixin' supper,
And she handed me a piece of paper she'd been writin' on,
And after wipin' my hands on my apron,
I read it - and this is what it said:

 

For mowin' the yard - five dollars,
And for makin' my own bed this week - one dollar,
And for goin' to the store - fifty cents,
An' playin' with little sister, while you went to the store - twenty-five cents,
Takin' out the trash - one dollar,
Gettin' a good report card - five dollars,
And for rakin' the yard - two dollars,
Total owed - fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents.

Well, I looked at her standin' there expectantly,
And a thousand mem'ries flashed through my mind,
So I picked up the pen, turnin' the paper over,
This is what I wrote:

 

For the nine months I carried you,
Growin' inside me - NO CHARGE,
For the nights I've sat up with you,
Doctored you, prayed for you - NO CHARGE,
For the toys, food and clothes.
And for wiping your nose, there's NO CHARGE,
When you add it all up.
The full cost of my love is NO CHARGE.

 

Well, when she finished readin',
She had great big old tears in her eyes,
And she looked up at me and said,
"Mama, I sure do love you."
Then she took the pen,
And in great big letters,
She wrote: "PAID IN FULL."

When you add it all up,
The cost of real love is - NO CHARGE

 

We can learn that lesson from Jesus. He laid His life down for you and for me, and the cost of real love was simply this… NO CHARGE.

 

You can’t buy salvation, and you can’t earn it. This Mother’s Day and every day, Jesus love and sacrifice is freely given… NO CHARGE.

 

MOTHERHOOD.. A TOUGH BUT POWERFUL GIG

 

So mums, we salute you today and recognise the tough job you have been doing selflessly.

 

Lord Shaftesbury was correct in his famous utterance, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months.”

 

Billy Graham said, “If we had more Christian mothers, we would have less delinquency, less immorality, less ungodliness, and fewer broken homes. Every mother owes it to her children to accept Christ as her personal Savior, so that she may be the influence for good in the lives of those whom Christ has graciously given to her.”

 

Whether you are a mum today, or a child, you can have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour. It’s a gift, it’s at no charge, but it’s a life changing event.

 

Mums, you need Jesus to be the mother you should be. And some of you children, you’ve broken you mum’s heart long enough! It’s time to ask Jesus into your life, it’s time to make your mother’s prayers be answered!

 

I asked the Lord for something special for mums today, something we could pray for you, something that would mean a lot in your life. I asked the Lord for a verse that would encourage every mother on this special day. Something that would say, “Hey mum, keep believing, don’t give up on your kids.. Your sacrifice and hard work will be rewarded.”

 

Mothers I would ask you to stand. Now, remain standing if you are tired and weary, because this is what the Lord has laid on my heart for you…

 

Isaiah 40:11 (ESV Strong's)

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

 

Some of you mums have been struggling, overwhelmed by life, fearful and worried for your kids. Maybe your children have been letting you down and breaking your heart, maybe you’ve been trying to juggle work, family, church and everything else. You’ve kept all the balls in the air, you’ve had your heart broken a time of two, but you haven’t given up. However, you get tired and weary and let me tell you that, right now, Jesus loves you and knows how you feel. His arms are outstretched to you and he says,

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong's)

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.”

 

When you come to Him you don’t get a free pass, you don’t get everything for nothing. You still have burdens, you still face struggles, but the difference is it’s a yoke that fits. You can pull a far greater weight if your burden fits well, and nothing is rubbing or painful.

 

This morning, Mother’s Day, Jesus calls to all mums and say, “Come.” If you’re burdened, if you’re weary, if you’re fearful, come and let Jesus carry the burden for you.

 

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Choices 3- Your Choices of Voices in your Head

May 7, 2018

We have been talking about how you can make wise and godly choices in your life. How many of you know, when you face a choice, that you get those little voices whispering in your head? “Just do it, now with, let’s think this through. Come one, you really want to do it, right?”

 

Competing, conflicting, most of us have a constant flow of ideas and thoughts that feel like voices in your head rather than the mind of the Spirit…

 

Romans 8:5-6

 

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

 

Every walked through the Ekka or the Nambour Show’s sideshow alley. You’re just walking through, and all around you are voices…

 

“Step right this way, one dollar for 2 shots , every player wins a prize!” So many voices, that you don’t know which way to turn, which game to play or, most importantly, who is telling you the truth, and who is lying.

 

This describes where most of us are every day, adults and kids, we all have voices running around our heads. If you don’t think kids have this, there is a great movie called “Inside Out," and it is the kid movie very adult should see! In the movie, it relates the thoughts that go through a little girl's head in various situations, and features voices in her head like joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust.

 

A kid movie, yes, but we all grapple with those voices every day. I’ve met adults whose lives are controlled by those same voices and emotions… anger, fear, sadness and disgust. How many of you know that, whenever you face anything in your life, there are often conflicting voices in your head.

 

Please note that I'm not suggesting that you are all schizophrenic! Schizophrenics hear destructive voices that control their behaviour, and they need professional help.

 

Mentally ill or not, all of us hear voices, all of which seem to compete for our attention. The question is, which voices are God, which are demons, and which are just you?

 

YOUR CHOICES OF VOICES

 

The voices in your head are from either of those three sources. Sorting them out, and figuring which ones you want to listen to is no easy matter! 

 

Choose to listen to the right ones and you will grow and prosper in God, choose the wrong ones to listen to and you will be tormented and maybe even have your entire life ruined! The stakes are high, but God is God, and His ways are higher than your stakes.

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

We have a choice… life or death, blessings or cursing, then He said this… choose life. However, all of us also have voices in our heads saying “Choose death.” They don’t say that outright of course, but they do urge us to make choices that could possibly lead to death. Make no mistake, all of us have choices of voices to listen to… God, the devil or ourselves.

 

People often ask me what America or Europe is like, and I tell them that it’s just like here, only with funny accents. And just as countries have accents, so the voices in your head have accents that reveal where they are actually from,

 

1.      YOUR VOICE… I DID IT MY WAY

 

Frank Sinatra famously sang “l did it my way,” and this is a constant creed in our modern world. It is also the accent of your own voice.

 

Iphone, iPod, I want what I want… this is the mantra of the modern generation. Every child is selfish, thinking that they are the centre of the universe, and every child wants what they want, when they want it. You don’t have to teach a child to be selfish, you have to teach them to be considerate, because they’re born self-centred. Every child undisciplined grows into a selfish adult!

 

Nothing sums up the modern generation like the recent phenomenon of the selfie. Never before in the history of mankind have so many photographs been taken of so many people doing so little.

 

You can often detect the voice of yourself in your head by what it is saying, because its accent is always what you want. The accent is often rebellious, using phrases like, “They can’t treat me like that,” or “What right have they got,” or “How dare they say that to me!”

 

The thing is, people, you and I, are basically selfish. You don’t have to teach a child to do wrong, you have to teach them to do right. Given free reign, our inner voice will always promote our interests and selfish desires first. The Bible puts it this way,

 

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV Strong's)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

 

The voice of yourself can be neutralised by humility and selflessness…

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

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

 

So if you face a choice and your inner voice is telling you to do it, and if you desperately want it, be very careful. It is likely to be your voice, not God. Your voice’s agenda is to satisfy your desires.

 

2.      THE DEVIL’S VOICE… JUST DO IT

 

I said the other week, the Nike test is this… God will always say count the cost, but the devil will always say, “Just do it.” He will say, buy now, pay later, if it feels good now, just do it and we will sort out the bill later.

 

The accent of demonic voices in your head is often one of actions without consideration of the consequences. When you face a choice, any choice, the wisest move is to step back and weigh up the long term consequences to your actions.

 

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

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

 

Whatever you do carries a consequence, and the voice of the devil will always pressure you to act without thinking through the consequences. Sometimes he is obvious, but often he is not!

 

Beware, because often the enemy will mask what he wants to say in innocent sounding phrases…

 

AN ANGEL OF LIGHT?

 

2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV Strong's)

for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

 

Church, don’t picture the devil as red and ugly with little horns. No, picture the devil as how he often really appears, maybe a beautiful woman or an attractive man, telling you that you deserve this, and asking what harm could it do.

 

It’s just a little harmless flirting, a bit of fun, what harm could it do? It could blow your marriage and your life apart, it could start limitless misery and pain, and sacrifice your family, your reputation and half your assets.  Weight the consequences and you will see the voice of the devil!

 

It’s just a little word, a juicy tit bit of gossip, but it can blow the Church apart, and cause endless pain and misery. It’s just a great deal, just a tiny deposit down, but soon it becomes a financial debt that drains you account and ruins your life.

 

Hosea 8:7 (ESV Strong's)

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.

 

If you face a choice and a little voice says in your ear, “Just do it,” then beware. Before you decide anything, pray, step back and look at the potential long term consequences of that decision. If you are honest you might see things differently, and save yourself a ton of heartache!

 

The devil also masquerades as not only an angel of light but also as your own voice, and often in the first person. Instead of saying, “You are useless,” the devil often makes you think you’re saying, “I’m useless.”

 

And please be aware of pseudo spirituality, even in the church. Just because someone says, “God told me to tell you this,” does not guarantee that it is God’s voice, because the devil delights in confusing people with so called prophetic words.

 

This is why we only permit those whom we trust to lay hands on people and pray prophetically over them. We believe in God speaking through visions and prophetic words, but unless you are part of the leadership here, we do not accept it. If you are new here and want to move in those areas, we have prayer groups you can join to be led and guided into that position. But we will not permit anyone to just walk in off the street and start prophesying over people. It’s too dangerous, and we don’t know who you are!

 

And in the end, any prophetic word spoken over you by anyone should be weighed in the light of Scripture.

 

 

3.      THE VOICE OF GOD… LOVING AND LEADING

 

If you learn what the Lord’s voice sounds like, then you can let Him lead you. Often the voice of God is drowned out by all the other voices in your head shouting for your attention. That’s why God says,

 

Psalms 46:10 (ESV Strong's)

“Be still, and know that I am God.

 

 So let me tell you 7 characteristics of God’s voice to help you discern what He sounds like…

 

1.      ACCORDING TO HIS WORD

 

God will never contradict His Word. Never! But if you never read His Word, how are you going to recognise His voice? If you don’t know His Word you won’t know His will!

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Before I make any big decision, I ask the Lord for guidance from His Word. All of the big decisions in our lives, and in the life of this church, have been made with Scriptural confirmation, because God’s voice always aligns with God’s Word.

 

2.      STILL, SMALL VOICE

 

1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

 

God doesn’t shout, He doesn’t demand attention and He will not compete with other voices. If you seek Him and listen, you will soon understand His quiet, still but profoundly powerful voice. His voice is gentle, even if He is bringing conviction or correction to your life.

 

Frankly, we do not get alone and get silent before God very effectively. There’s so much noise, so many competing voices in this world. We must prioritise and make time to be alone with God, silent and listening. It is a skill you need to develop, and when you do recognising His voice is easier!

 

3.      COUNT THE COST

 

Luke 14:28 (ESV Strong's)

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

 

God has long term vision, so before you make any decision, He will ask you to step back and count the cost. He will not pressure you to make a snap decision, but will have you look at the entire picture. Every choice carries with it consequences, so when you hear God you generally do so with eyes wide open, even if you cannot see the end game. God’s voice leads to well thought out decisions.

 

4.      BUILDS YOU UP

 

God’s voice always builds you up, it always encourages you and blesses you, even if He is correcting you. His voice is  voice of conviction, not condemnation.

 

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV Strong's)

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

So when facing a decision, don’t rush in, step back, take your time and wait for the voice of God, because that’s what will build you up and bless you and others around you.

 

5.      PURE AND LOVELY

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The voice of God, even if it is difficult and not what you want to hear, will always be beautiful, pure, true and noble. It will never be dirty, crass, sleazy or anything other than pure.

 

6.      REQUIRES OBEDIENCE

 

Make no mistake, God will not speak if you will not obey. He won’t waste His time. You probably want to make right decisions, you probably want to move towards the wonderful destiny God has for you, but He will not show you the next step if you are disobedient about this one!

 

John 14:15 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

How can you say you love Jesus if you do not show your love by being obedient? And don’t think being religious, going to church or saying grace before eating is showing love. The Bible says,

 

1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV Strong's)

 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

 

Obedience to the voice of God is a sure fire way to grow into your destiny, because love = obedience.

 

7.      BEARS GOOD FRUIT

 

Matthew 7:16-20 (ESV Strong's)

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

 

Over time, as you learn to listen to the voice of God over those of the devil and yourself, you will see the fruit, and good fruit will confirm that you heard God’s voice and obeyed. Look at the good choices you’ve made… Asking Jesus into your life? Check. Coming to church? Check. Reading your Bible? Check!

 

I’ve had people say to me, “God told me to leave church.” Well, if God told you, who am I to question that? So they left, and some months down the track they do not attend any church, they are lonely, displaced and struggling with depression. They left a spiritual home, where people loved and supported them, and they reap what they have sown. Is that fruitful? Was that God?

 

THE WAY AHEAD

 

So we have talked about the 3 different sources of voices in your head. Now you can discern the difference, what can you do from here?

 

1.      BE OBEDIENT

 

When you make choices, once you know God what God is asking, make sure you are obedient. Even when we know God’s will, some of us have a great tendency to usurp His will with our human logic. I know God said this, but it doesn’t seem the logical way to go to me…

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

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

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

 

If you want a straight path in life, full of blessing and God’s goodness, listen to His voice, be obedient and stop leaning on your own understanding. Someone here needs to hear that today!

 

2.      BE ALERT

 

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV-WS)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

If you decide to listen to the voice of God and make the choices He wants, the devil is mad about it, and will do everything in your power to thwart your efforts

 

When facing choices and listening to those voices, be on guard against the devil and your own desires. The enemy is out to fool you, out to lead you the wrong way. Test everything, so you can confidently be sure you are hearing and obeying the right voice.

 

3.      BE AWARE

 

By this I mean, be aware of those small decisions…

 

Song of Songs 2:15 (ESV Strong's)

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

 

Be obedient to the little decisions and you will find that discerning God’s voice in the big decisions becomes a lot easier. So watch those little foxes. What TV show or movies you watch, what words you say to someone who has hurt you, what you think when you see someone has something your would like to have. Watch those little foxes, because they will spoil the fruit.

 

4.      BE PROACTIVE

 

When you discern that a voice is not God, don’t excuse it, tolerate it, put up with it or ignore it. Don’t put your hands over your ears and sing loudly. You need to do this…

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Capture those voices ruthlessly, and say, “No, I reject you in Jesus name, and cast you away.” While ever you tolerate the wrong voice, you give it power. Don’t flirt with it, don’t overlook it, and don’t tolerate it.  Take it captive and banish it from your mind!

 

YOU CAN HEAR GOD’S VOICE

 

All those voices in your head, all of them trying to influence you, but you can hear and know and be certain you are hearing the voice of God. Jesus said,

 

John 10:27 (ESV Strong's)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

 

Making the right choice is easy when you clearly hear God’s voice. When you recognise His voice it builds your faith when you follow it. In order to recognise His voice, you need to read the Bible, come to church and get familiar with His still, small voice. Later in the year we want to run workshops on hearing and discerning the voice of God.

 

 

Today I want to pray with those who find conflicting words in their heads. If you want to make the right decisions, you need to hear the voice of Jesus clearly, so I want to pray for you if you struggle to sort out God’s voice from all the others.

 

But if you don’t know Him, you have no chance of hearing Him.

 

00:0000:00

Choices- Through the Eyes of a Child

April 29, 2018

We have been looking at choices over the last few weeks, and we’ve decided that making the right choices is a great idea. It not only minimised bad consequences which can last generations, but it keeps you aligned to God’s best for your life, because destiny is not something external that happens to you, destiny is the sum of your choices… the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

So we should want to make wise choices that bear good fruit forever, right? As God challenges us in the Bible,

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The choices you make in life often depend on your perspective, and today I want to look at life through the eyes of a child..

 

YOU’VE GOT TO BE KID-DING?

 

We often look down on kids… they’re small, they’re young, they’re inexperienced, but Jesus said,

 

Matthew 19:14 (ESV Strong's)

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Why would Jesus, who spent a lot of time teaching us principles by which we can make wise, godly choices and thereby live blessed and righteous lives, say the Kingdom of heaven belongs to kids? I mean, you’ve got to be kidding!

 

What can He see in kids that we can’t? What makes kids different or even better than us adults?

 

It can’t be cleanliness, because as adults we cringe at some of the unclean things children do. They eat worms, they poop their pants and they smother their faces in food trying to eat it.   They are weaker and dirtier than adults. No, it can’t be anything physical.

 

And it can’t be mental. We know more words, we understand higher principles and we have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Would you let a 7 year old surgeon operate on you?

 

I believe that children are superior to us adults in their purity and their faith. Jesus said…

 

Mark 10:15 (ESV Strong's)

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

 

So let’s look into the eyes of a child, and into their soul, to discover how we should be like them… How are children different to us?

 

1.      CHILDREN ARE A CLEAN SLATE

 

Kids are pure and innocent… They come without a past, without the hangups and negative perceptions that our past actions, experiences and sins leave us with. They are a clean slate, ready to be written on by the master’s hand, or anyone else’s, which is why kids can be so easily influenced.

 

Adults carry baggage from their past, and this colours how they see their present and future in the Lord. God realises that coming to Him when you are already negatised by some past sin, things you’re ashamed of, a failed relationship, marriage, business, anything else, affects how you trust Him and other people right now. Your past limits your present and future, so we must make our past, past at last!

 

In fact, the Lord is so concerned about you hanging on to your past failures that He says this…

 

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

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

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

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

 

You won’t find streams, you won’t find God’s way and you won’t find true peace if you hang onto the failures and sins of the past. Maybe it’s time to learn from a child, and even from a child’s movie. You need to let it go! Today needs to be the day you let your shameful past go and start looking at Jesus!

 

2.      CHILDREN WANT TO PLEASE THEIR PARENTS

 

How many of you know that a child loves to please their parents. They might be disobedient at times, but every child longs for their parent’s approval, and most kids will do whatever it takes to make mum or dad proud of them.  Paul wrote this…

 

2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

 

Church, we need to be setting out to please our Heavenly Father, just as a child wants to please their parents. Does everything we do please our Father? Do we live to please Him, or ourselves? We need to be more childlike in this.

 

3.      CHILDREN ARE TRUSTING

 

I remember my kids jumping into my arms from a height, totally trusting that I would catch them and they would not fall or injure themselves. The trust of a little child is beautiful, and as a dad it pleases me no end when my girls trust in me.

 

Psalms 20:7 (ESV Strong's)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

 

Kids don’t worry about the Aussie dollar, or the housing market or bitcoin. They have no fear of anything or anyone, even strangers. We once found Kira talking to a stranger, and when we pulled her up on it she explained he was not a stranger, his name was Geoff.

 

I believe we need to relearn that absolute trust we once had as children, the trust that people who’ve let us down and life’s experiences have robbed us of. We mustn’t trust in chariots or horses, governments or social groups, the stock market or business or any person… we need to totally and absolutely trust in the Lord, trusting nothing and no one more than we trust Him. We must become childlike again with the trust of a child!

 

4.      CHILDREN SEE WONDER AND HAVE HOPE

 

Kids always see the best in things. Show them anything, even something simple, and they are amazed, excited and full of wonder, aren’t they?  I love showing Kaileigh something new. They other day Raymond and I took Kaileigh to the beach and we sat in among the rock pools, and every little shell was amazing, every wave was a wonder to her, until one knocked her over. To a child, the world is new and wonderful!

 

We see a sunset… kids see an explosion of colour. We see a shopping centre, they see 101 things to do and discover. We may see ourselves as tired, broken or soiled, but they see us as superheroes, amazing, trustworthy and  able to do anything. How many kids believe their dad can fix anything!

 

We live in a world where hope has been systematically destroyed in our lives. You have enough knocks, you suffer through loss or marriage breakup or sin or sickness or disappointments and you lose hope. But the Bible says,

 

Romans 15:13 (ESV Strong's)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

Kids have hope and see wonder in everything, and so should we. Becoming childlike restores our hope and causes us to see good, joy and wonder around us.

 

5.      CHILDREN ARE TEACHABLE

 

Children are ready to learn, totally receptive to what we want to teach them. Crosby, Stills and Nash had a song, “Teach your children well,” and it holds true today.

 

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

And how many of you know that even little kids often pick up more than they should because they are receptive and eager to learn!

 

Adults, do we come before the Lord with that same eager and teachable spirit? Many prayers sound like people trying to teach God a thing or two! Trying to make Him bend to their will, rather than the other way around. But the Bible says,

 

Psalms 143:10 (ESV Strong's)

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

 

Becoming childlike and teachable helps you make increasingly godly decisions as you develop and mature in Christ.

 

And how do kids learn most often? They learn my imitating those they see around them.

 

I remember the story of a mother who heard their children screaming and cussing, and went outside to stop them. They replied, “But we are just playing mummies and daddies.”

 

Paul recognised this childlike trait in all of us when he wrote,

 

1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV Strong's)

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

 

One of the best ways to grow is to imitate someone you admire. In my music, I sound a bit like Paul McCartney and Keith Green, because I imitated them growing up.

 

Becoming childlike means imitating Christ, and other Christians around us. Imitating is a great way to grow, and childlike faith gives you a childlike opportunity to learn to become Christlike.

 

 

6.      CHILDREN ARE FULL OF POTENTIAL

 

As you become an adult you tend to box yourself in. You listen to what others think and you limit yourself and what you believe you can do. As an adult, you’re conditioned not to dream big but to simply tow the party line. Don’t reach for greatness, reach for the Tv remote and stay who you are.

 

But God says this…

 

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

When you come to Christ, He sees the true potential in you and has plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future beyond your wildest dreams.

 

But how do you as an adult, with all your history, hangups and hopelessness reach that potential?

 

There’s only one way, and that’s by being born again, and embracing some of the beautiful, innocent and trusting traits of a child.

 

Then you place yourself in His hands and let Him direct you…

 

INTRODUCING THE MASTER POTTER

 

Children are like clay in a potter’s hands… unformed, untainted, full of potential, they can become anything, they can achieve anything. And when we become childlike, when we place ourselves into His skilful hands, God can make anything out of our lives He chooses to create…

 

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV Strong's)

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

 

When you come to Christ you are born again, and you have the opportunity to become childlike and see the world and God in a new way… through a child’s eyes! You’re a blank slate, so today it’s time to leave the past behind, give your heart like clay to the potter and say, “Here’s my life, Lord, make it what You want it to be.”

 

But we’re adults, right, we want to control things and we can’t let go and let God! We want to tell Him what to do because we want to make a life for ourselves. Yet He is life and life to the full, so maybe we should become children again and let the potter shape our future!

 

Let me finish with a story told by Amy Carmichael who devoted her life to the children on India when she visited a master potter… she tried to make a pot, but finished with a gluggy mess.

 

 Then the potter said, "sit down, you can make a pot." "That I cannot do, as you see by what I have already attempted," I replied. "Sit down," he insisted. I did so. Then, sitting behind me, he put his arms over my arms, his hands over mine, his fingers over my fingers. The wheel began to spin. "Do not allow your fingers to resist mine," he advised, and I obeyed. There under my fingers, to my astonishment, grew a beautiful vessel. The wheel stopped and my friend said, "Behold your pot."

 

"Not mine," I said, “You made it.” But he replied, "Look on your hands; there is clay on your fingers, so they touched the clay, for there is nothing on my hand. Whose hand touches the vessel, that hand makes the pot," the potter said and smiled.

 

When we make choices in our lives, we can resist the hands of God, or let Him guide our hands to create the masterpiece He longs for. A child is shaped and moulded by their parents, and so we must be shaped and moulded by our Father.

 

Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Today the Lord is calling you to greatness! You and you alone are responsible for what your life becomes. Do you let the master potter guide your hands, do you trust like a child and let Him lead your life, or do you do it yourself? The choice is yours… blessings or cursing, life or death… now choose life!

 

Children, come to Jesus and ask Him into your life as Lord and Saviour

 

Parents, are you willing to throw off the past and let God mould you into your future. Can you trust Him with childlike faith?

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Choices 2- God’s Will

April 23, 2018

Making the right choice means finding God’s will for your life, but God’s will is hotly debated. I am sick and tired of people telling me what they believe God’s will is, then reversing God’s will a short time later to suit themselves.

 

God told me or God’s will are some of the most dangerous and misused phrases in all of Christendom, and we have already faced problems in this church with people thinking they hear God when they are actually serving themselves.

 

We believe God speaks to us. We believe in prophetic words, but before you speak on behalf of God you need to establish your credentials. We do not permit anyone to walk off the street and start praying and prophesying over our people. If you have this gift, do our 101 and 201 course, join our prayer teams and over time become a part of what the Lord is doing here.

 

I mean, who among us believers does not want to find the will of God in our lives? Yet so many people I talk to have no idea even where to start in finding God’s will for their lives, and they look at their own lives and struggle to understand God’s will. How can it be God’s will for me to lose my job, lose my marriage, lose my mind?

 

What is God’s will and what is not God’s will? How can we know God’s will? Is it common to miss God’s will or is that even possible? Can I really know that I am doing God’s will? That I am in His will? How come someone else thinks they know God’s will for my life and I don’t?

 

Beware of anyone dressing up their opinion as the will of God!

 

All these and more are common questions every thoughtful believer grapples with at one time or another in life. Does God withhold His will for us? Does He set an impossible series of tasks to make us earn the right to learn His will, a bit like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… bow now, step here, etc.

 

Much of the confusion about God’s will goes back to not understanding God Himself and how He does His amazing work in our lives. The Christian life is not merely a matter of getting from right now to the completed product, from point A to point B. No, God’s will for us in this life is more about the journey itself.

 

And in the 21st century, we think that our opinion really matters! As we grow, we realise that ultimately the only opinion that really matters is God’s!

 

Romans 9:21 (ESV Strong's)

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use?

GOD’S SOVEREIGN WILL

 

The first facet of God’s will is His Sovereign, determined, immutable will. This determined, decreed dimension of God’s will has four qualities:

(1) It is absolute.

(2) It is immutable, which means “unchangeable.”

(3) It is unconditional.

(4) It is always in complete harmony with His plan and His nature. In other words, the decreed will of God will be holy, just, good, and righteous; therefore, it will be best. And it will all work toward those ends.

Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

While we may not know the will of God for the future in our specific situation, but He has given us a whole list of requirements that are in His will for all believers: such as

 

Obey and honour parents (Eph. 6:1, 2). Marry only another Christian (2 Cor. 6:14). Raise our children by God’s standards (Eph. 6:4). Meditate on the Scriptures (Ps. 1:2). Pray (1 Thess. 5:17). Assemble for worship (Heb. 10:25). Proclaim Christ (Acts 1:8). Love one another (1 Cor. 13).

 

God’s sovereign will is about how we should live, and He lays out His will so it applies to all of us, no matter who we are or where we live. You should never be confused by God’s sovereign will, because it is clearly spelled out for us in His Word.

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV Strong's)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

 

GOD’S PERMISSIVE WILL

 

The second facet of God’s will is His permissive will, which represents what God allows. Essentially, God’s permissive will is the way things play out. We believe that God is all powerful and all knowing, so nothing ever takes Him by surprise, and nothing is outside of His permissive will. He permits evil at times, but He always has a plan!

 

This is not necessarily what He wants, but it is what He permits. For example, God allowed Job to go through suffering. He didn’t cause the suffering; He permitted it. This is where the whole matter of evil comes into play.

 

And this is one of the irreconcilable difficulties in our theology-the tension between the determined will of God and the responsibility of humanity. We need to make Christ known to the whole world, knowing all the while that not everyone in the world will believe. God does not cause sin, but He does permit it. He is not pleased when His creation yields to temptation, but He uses even that to accomplish His purposes.

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.

 

So even pain and misfortune, stuff that the Lord doesn’t want but permits, can be used by Him to your good. It may be the result of your sin, or someone else’s sin, and therefore it is not God’s sovereign will, but God can make lemonade out of lemons!

 

SPIRITUAL FATALISM

 

Understanding God’s sovereign and permissive will gives rise to a certain kind of Christian that I call a spiritual fatalist. In this condition believers have little or no faith, but basically expect God to do bad things more often than not, and then claim it as God’s will. It’s is a bit like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” where, as a good Jew, he says, “I know we are your chosen people, but do you have to choose us every time?”

 

Don’t become a spiritual fatalist! Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants the best for you.

Matthew 7:9-11 (ESV Strong's)

which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

 

We need to realise that, although God’s will is for us to be blessed, sometimes bad things happen to good people. When this happens, and it will, don’t get fatalistic about it, just ask God to show you the good He intends out of it, and trust Him to turn it around. To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to trust Him.

 

GOD’S WORD AND GOD’S WILL

 

If you don’t know God at all, how can you possibly know His will? The more you get to know God, the more you understand His will for your life. God’s Word and God’s will are intertwined.

 

And how can you get to know Him? By reading His Word every day. That’s why I keep talking about the Bible reading plan, because no matter how hard it seems, every moment invested in reading, studying and even memorising God’s Word will yield fruit, and the fruit will be manifested as choices that align with God’s will.

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

God’s Word is not just a book, it is living and active. It penetrates into your life. It helps you make choices according to the spirit, not the soul.

 

Everyone has a soul. It’s not your body, it is the centre of your mind, will and emotions. You make most decisions in your soul. You think things through in your mind, and while you mind is logical, it often does not make choices in isolation, it is heavily influenced by your will, what you desperately want to see happen. And your emotions, how you feel at the time.

 

Sometimes we want something so badly it eclipses all logic. That’s what happens when we wilfully choose to sin, without counting the consequences. Then at others times, we are down, we are depressed and then we will often make stupid, illogical, disastrous decisions when they are emotionally distressed.

 

I have learned not to make any big decisions on Monday morning. On Mondays I am exhausted, spent, flat and frankly miserable. It is a poor time to make big choices. Yet humans make huge decisions in the most inopportune moments, like the middle of a fight, or when they are depressed, angry, frustrated or discouraged.

 

So how do you make spiritual, godly decisions according to God’s will in your life?

 

HOW TO FIND GOD’S WILL IN YOUR LIFE

 

Ephesians 5:17 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

 

Life is full of decisions, and if we want to make the right choices—those that glorify God and benefit us and others—we need God’s guidance, we need to know His will and we need to actively seek God’s will for our lives.  The following seven words will help us in seeking His direction.

 

1.      CLEANSING

Psalms 66:18 (ESV Strong's)

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

If you continue with wilful sin in your life, then you place a barrier between yourself and God. If you want to live your life in the will of God, then you need to keep short accounts with God. Don’t beat yourself up about it, confess it and get right with God. You need to ask, “Is anything in my life hindering me from hearing what You are saying, Lord? If so, what is it?” “Is there any ongoing situation, or person I’m too attached to that stops Your will in my life.”

1 John 1:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

2.      SURRENDERING

 

Why should God make His will known to you if you never obey Him?  We must be committed to submitting to whatever God instructs us to do. Sometimes we find it difficult to move ahead because we want to know step two before we complete step one of God’s will.

 

However, we must surrender ourselves to His timing and guidance. Obeying the will of God is both a humbling and an uplifting experience (1 Pet. 5:6).

 

James 4:7 (ESV Strong's)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

3.      ASKING

 

God is not trying to hide His will for your life. He doesn’t have a series of tests and hoops you need to jump through to earn the right to hear about His will for you!

 

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.

 

God is actually excited about His awesome plans for your life. And He can’t wait to lead you on to your destiny… All you need to do is ask, and wait! God may take His own time in revealing His will for your life, but if you seek Him, you will find Him because He wants to be found by you, and He wants to reveal His will.

 

James 4:2 (ESV Strong's)

You do not have, because you do not ask.

 

4.      MEDITATING

 

Meditating for the Christian is not just sitting down contemplating your navel. You need to meditate on something of significance, and nothing is more significant than the Word of God!

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

God’s Word is a light, and the more we think about and study God’s Word, the clearer our path will become. That’s why I get as many of us as possible reading the Word of God every day. I’m not trying to make your life miserable, I am opening you up to your destiny. And like a lamp, you cannot see a mile ahead, God just reveals a little bit, and calls you to step into it.

 

5.      BELIEVING

 

Christianity, with all the teaching and Bible translations available, is still about faith. You have to trust God and believe Him to reveal His will for your life.

Mark 11:24 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

 

God delights in our faith, and He is tickled pink when we seek Him and trust Him for our future and destiny. He absolutely loves it!

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.

 

Believe and be rewarded! Therefore, trust that He will show you what to do.

 

6.      WAITING

 

God promises that He acts on our behalf when we wait in faith for Him.

Isaiah 64:4 (ESV Strong's)

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

If we insist on running ahead and taking things into our own hands, if we constantly force things or try and manipulate circumstances to make our desires come to pass, then we will be disappointed. On the other hand, if we wait patiently for the Lord, and when the Bible talks about waiting it means waiting expectantly, then the sovereign, all powerful God of the universe will act on our behalf.

 

It’s our choice!

 

7.      RECEIVING

 

When we obediently seek the will of God, we can be sure that He’ll hear us and give us the wisdom we need to make the right choices.

Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

And once we know God’s will, we have a responsibility to embrace His direction and obey Him completely.

 

You will find great peace and confidence in knowing that you are making choices based on God’s guidance, on His will. Perhaps no one else will understand or agree with your decision—but you will have heard from the One who matters the most.

 

WHERE THERE’S GOD’S WILL, THERE’S A WAY!

 

Your choices need to be aligned with God’s will, not just His permissive will, not just what you can get away with,  but His sovereign will, His first choice for your life. And you will never know God’s will until you know God, and if you want to truly move in His will, the more you know Him, the more you will trust Him, and the more you trust Him the more you will believe, and even rest in His will.

 

 The issue is not so much discovering God’s will, because that’s written in His Word, it is living in God’s will. And living in God’s will is all about knowing Him, and getting to know His character and hence His will. And when you get to know Him, you will begin to see through His eyes, giving you a fresh perspective.

 

We much prefer to live in the here-and-now realm, seeing life as others see it, dealing with realities we can touch, analyse, prove, and explain. We are much more comfortable with the tactile, the familiar, the logic shaped by our culture.

 

But God offers a better way to live. His way requires faith that lifts us above the daily grind and the drag of our immediate little world, opens new dimensions of thought, and introduces a perspective far beyond human limitations.

 

In order to enter this better way, we must train ourselves to think God’s way. This turns our focus away from ourselves and our circumstances, and all the troubles we face, and it opens our minds to a God-centred frame of reference, where all things begin and end with Him and His sovereign will.

 

Some of us here need to change perspective, to see beyond our immediate circumstances where we fatalistically blame God for every bad thing that happens to us. We should live above the circumstances, seeing with God’s eyes the blessing He intends for our lives.

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

 “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

 

FACING THE STORMS OF LIFE

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus shares the story of two builders, who built their houses on different foundations… one on sand, the other on rock. When the storms of life came, the sand based house collapsed while the rock based house stood firm. The houses were built on different foundations, but often we forget that they both faced cyclonic storms.

We will all experience storms in life. Good things will happen to us, as well as tragic and inexplicable things. Every life will have its share of pain. Even so, we have a God who, despite the worst tragedy, can bring good out of bad! That’s not to say that God will make bad good, because bad is bad. But it is to say that good can come out of bad, but you only get to see this when you can see with God’s eyes. 

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.

Life is a process, and as finite beings who live moment to moment, we can’t see around the bend, we can’t discern God’s ultimate purposes or see the entire big picture. But we can know that the ultimate result will be good…Why? Because we know that God is good.

 

KNOW GOD, KNOW LIFE… NO GOD, NO LIFE!

 

Knowing God’s will for your life is simply about knowing God, and that is life and life to the full! The more you know Him the more you trust Him, and the more you trust Him, regardless of the circumstances, the more you will live and move and have your being right in the centre of God’s will.

 

And if you live there, if you live according to God’s will, then the world can throw anything at you and you won’t doubt, you won’t accuse God and you won’t make excuses… you will simply trust, no matter what.

 

That’s the peace that passes all understanding… knowing God so closely that nothing else matters!

 

So the challenge this day is to take your eyes off circumstances, off the bad consequences of your previously bad decisions, and place them firmly on the Lord. Watch those things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.  Then no matter what happens you can say this…

 

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.

For those who truly know God, worry is not an option. The closer you are to God, the more your will aligns with His, and your decisions become His will for your life. It is not so much about worrying over your future and your choices, it’s not even about seeking to make right decisions…

Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)

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

00:0000:00

Choices 1- You are Free to Choose

April 16, 2018

 

YOU ARE FREE TO CHOOSE

 

We all make choices every day, whether it is what TV program to watch, what we eat for

Lunch, what we pursue as a career or who we want to marry. We live in a free society, and we are free to make our own choices about most things, some huge and life changing, some tiny and unimportant .

 

As Australians, we actively champion the right of every person to be free to make whatever choice they want. So if someone is born a girl but wants to become a boy, or if someone wants to be a homosexual, or if someone wants to have an abortion because a baby would disrupt their lifestyle, many in our society and government champion the right of any person to make those choices.

 

However, while you are free to choose, you are not free to choose the consequences of your choice.

 

And destiny, your ultimate destination, is not a random thing that just happens to you… Destiny is the direct result of the choices you make.

 

John Maxwell said, “Life is a matter of choice, and every choice you make makes you!”

 

Proverbs 14:12 (ESV Strong's)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

 

C.S. Lewis said, “No one will ever go to heaven deservingly and no one will ever go to hell unwillingly.” If you end up in hell you have to practically climb over Jesus to do so. If you go to hell, it’s by your choice, so don’t try and blame someone else. You are free to choose, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your choice!

 

Choosing has been a part of mankind from the beginning, as have the consequences of the choices we make. In Genesis 3, the serpent influences Adam into making a choice, and his choice is fatal for mankind. Later Jesus made the choice to come and offer Himself, and through Jesus’ good choice He overcomes the bad choice of Adam…

 

Romans 5:19 (ESV Strong's)

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

 

CHARGE IT!

 

We think we can get away with our bad choices, and sometimes we seem to, but there will be a reckoning. 

 

We are like kids with a credit card, and we want to rack up any charge for anything we want, whenever we want it, foolishly thinking we will never have to pay for it… but we will, and with interest!

 

I heard about a guy whose wife’s credit card was stolen, and the police advised him to do nothing as the thief was spending less than she was. I keep explaining to my wife that it is a credit limit, not a target!

 

We live in a society where most people are trying to escape the consequences of the choices they have made. We try to blame someone else, we blame upbringing, parents, society, and we try to blame God.  We try to do all we can to duck and weave and escape the consequences of our poor choices.

 

But ultimately, like it or not, you will be called to account!

 

Romans 14:12 (ESV Strong's)

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

 

CHOOSE LIFE

 

In Deuteronomy 27 there is a dramatic scene. The people of Israel are about to enter the promised land. They are wrapping up 40 years of wandering in the desert and they are headed for this beautiful and blessed place God has for them.

 

But the Lord is concerned about the choices they will make in the future, because He knows that choices determine destiny. So He wants to graphically illustrate the choices they face so they will remember for generations about the consequences of those choices. Moses instructs them,

 

Deuteronomy 27:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

“When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

 

So here are two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal. The tribes on Mount Gerizim were descendants of Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel, and this represented blessings.  Those on Ebal were tribes from Jacob’s concubines, plus Reuben and Zebulun, and this mountain represented curses.  Mount Ebal to the north is usually barren of vegetation, a sun scorched rock, while Mount Gerizim to the south is covered with vegetation. The contrast between the barren mountain pronouncing the curses and the lush mountain heralding God’s blessing would have been unmistakable.

 

The leaders are then instructed to list off the curses that are the consequence of disobedience to the Lord, and the blessings that are the consequences of obedience, and the commandments of God were to be listed in white plaster rocks on Mount Ebal.

God doesn’t give His laws to mess up our lives, He does it to protect and bless us.

 

These mountains were a graphic illustration of the consequences our choices create, and a silent plea from God to be obedient and honour Him. After Moses gave these instructions, he finished with a final discussion about the consequences of their future choices, for the, and their descendants.

 

And really nothing has changed. The choices you make now, don’t just affect you, they affect others around you. If you choose to rebel against God right now, then not only do you suffer the consequences, not only do you get to go to hell, but you potentially take your children, and their children with you!

 

Consequences are often generational! Child of a single mum often becomes a single mum. The son of a drug addict often becomes a drug addict. If you walk away from church, your children often won’t hear about God, and either will their kids. At a conference last week, I heard latest scientific analysis suggesting foetal alcohol syndrome can affect not just the children but also the grandchildren, even if the child of the alcoholic is a tea totaler! They attribute this to some kind of cellular memory, but I think it is a generational curse.

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

God pleads with you today, choose life, for your sake, and also your children’s sake!

 

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF CHOICE

 

I use to love to watch Fawlty Towers. In every episode, Basil would lie to his wife, and then he would have to invent another lie to cover the first, then another until his lies were so ridiculous no one could believe them! What a graphic illustration of human existence!

 

Make a bad choice, and you know it is often a slippery slope into despair! Usually a bad choice leads to another and another. One sin unconfessed potentially develops earth shattering and life destroying sins. Here’s how the Bible describes it…

 

James 1:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

 

So how do you make right choices, when you have so much going around in your head?

 

DISCERNING THE SOURCE… THE NIKE TEST

 

Many people ask me about making godly choices. There are so many voices vying for your attention, and it is hard to sort out which is which in your head. We will look at this in more detail over the next few weeks, but let me give you a simple rule of thumb that often good indicator of whether a choice you face is from God or from the enemy…

 

When God is asking you to choose, He usually says, “Count the cost,” but the devil always says, “Just do it!”

 

When God is asking you to choose, He is not afraid of you knowing the truth…

 

Luke 14:28-29 (ESV Strong's)

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,

 

Jesus says, count the cost. Have a look at the consequences, both good and bad, weigh them up and make an informed decision. Yes, it still takes faith, because God is always about faith, but Christian faith is informed, sensible and balanced faith, not blind, uninformed leaps into unknown craziness!

 

The devil, on the other hand, always says, Just do it! Hey, you want it, just go for it, and don’t worry about the cost, we will figure that out later. Put it on a credit card, buy now, pay later.

 

These types of decisions bear toxic fruit that can last a lifetime.

 

Having an affair, is a good example. Your night of pleasure has horrific repercussions, ruining your walk with God, potentially losing your marriage, your family, your children, half your home and assets… if you weighed the consequences you would never do it, but the devil says, forget the payment, just do it now!

 

Would you buy a car you wanted without finding out the price? Well, so many people make decisions without even thinking through the probable repercussions.

 

7 STEPS TO MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES

 

So how can you make the right choices, the choices God wants you to make?

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

So let me outline 7 steps towards making godly choices in your life…

 

1.      PRAY

 

Make a conscious decision to bring every major choice to the Lord. Prayer should be an important part of your decision making, and if you sense in your prayer that you need to go a certain way, listen to God and explore that. You need God’s wisdom in your choices, and so do I.

 

Philippians 4:6 (ESV Strong's)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 

So when you face a big choice, don’t worry and fret about it, take it to the Lord in prayer and listen and allow Him to show you the way. He can speak in visions, words, from the Bible, from mentors, in sermons and loads of ways, so take it to Him and let Him lead you.

 

Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong's)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

 

We are going to talk more about hearing the voice of God in later messages, and will run a course later in the year we hope on this very topic. So don’t just pray, listen and be open to the Lord speaking to you.

 

2.      STUDY THE WORD

 

If you are going to pray, never act on a feeling or impression you get alone. God should confirm His Word to you and one of the most common and effective ways God speaks to you is through His Word. He will never guide you in a way that is contrary to His Word.

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

If you want a spirit filled, godly future, then reading, learning and studying God’s Word is a non negotiable. Unless you have the mind of Christ, unless you understand God’s will, God’s laws and God’s heart, you cannot consistently make godly decisions.

 

That is why I encourage all of you to use our Bible reading plan. We use it at a leadership level, and one recent very big decision, God miraculously gave us direct guidance from His Word. We live this stuff, so should you!

 

3.      STEP BACK

 

Many foolish decisions are made in the heat of the battle, because when you are engaged at that level, you cannot see the big picture.

 

During the American Civil War Abraham Lincoln and General McLellan clashed often on matters of battles tactics. The general called the President an amateur, but the President explained that, rather than only seeing his portion of the battlefield, the President was getting telegraph reports from all of the fields of battle. Their perspective was different, one localised, while the other could step back and see the full big picture.

 

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.

To make sensible, God choices, step back and see the big picture.

 

4.      LOOK BACK

 

Experience is an incredible teacher, especially when coupled with the Holy Spirit. Looking back on your failures should spur you on to not want to make those same choices… Although not for everybody, History repeats itself… it has to, some people never listen,

 

Deuteronomy 9:7 (ESV Strong's)

Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness.

 

When facing a big choice, look back and remember how it worked out last time. To err is human, to repeat it is frustrating but to repeat it again is just plain stupid!

 

5.      LOOK AHEAD

 

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

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

If you have failed in the past, it’s time to make the past past at last! If your previous poor choices seem to plague you, you have to let go of those things, nimble it and move on. Don’t let the failures of the past hold you back from the successes of the future.

 

Just don’t repeat past failures, look ahead with hope, not fear! If you feel fear that your past failure will affect your choices now, we need to pray this through.

 

6.      LOOK TO OTHERS

 

Proverbs 15:22 (ESV Strong's)

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

 

Wise, godly counsel is an important part of making good choices. Now there is a lot of advice around these days. I always marvel at the number of people who get advice about important decisions by putting it out on Facebook, or asking their mates at the pub.

 

King Solomon’s Son Rehoboam had a rebellion on his hands. The United Kingdom of his father was under threat, and he needed advice. He first asked the older advisors who had served his father, and they recommended that he show kindness and give concessions to the rebels. But…

 

2 Chronicles 10:8 (ESV Strong's)

But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.

 

He turned to his mates, and they said, “No, tell the rebels you will be harsher than before… don’t let them push you around!” This advice blew his entire kingdom apart.

 

So don’t just seek advice, talk to the right people, someone who is spiritually mature, not just old. Age is compulsory, but maturity is optional. In Church, there are loads of godly, mature and spiritually successful people you can ask to help give advice about your choices.

 

 

7.      LOOK TO GOD

 

If you want to make consistent, godly choices, and get it right most of the time, then take your eyes off yourself and your circumstances, and place them firmly on God.

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things on earth will go strangely dim.

 

We tend to do worry and become anxious about so many things in our lives. What we will eat, where we will stay, who we are with. Jesus argued that unbelievers fill their minds with this stuff, but that God knows what we need, when and where.  We should concentrate on Him, worshipping Him, honouring Him, seeking what is important to Him.  Jesus put it this way…

 

Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

As we look to Jesus, as we serve Him with our lives, all other aspects of life start to come into perspective. Look to Jesus.

 

A story is told of a rich man who had a multi million dollar art collection, and He also had a son whom he loved dearly. The son went off to war, and sadly was killed in action, breaking the old man’s heart.

 

One day there was a knock at the door, and a young man in uniform stood in the doorway. He told the father that he had been serving with his beloved son, and handed the father a painting he had made of the man’s son. The man thanked the soldier with tears in his eyes.

 

Some time later the old man died. Because he had a huge art collection, and no living heir, the family lawyer hosted an art sale. A large crowd assembled, and the auctioneer offered the first item for sale, a painting of the deceased man’s only son.

 

“Get on with the real stuff,” people called out, and no one placed a bid on the painting. Finally, the family butler for years who also loved the son, placed a bid of $10.00.

 

“Going, going, sold!”, said the auctioneer, and promptly called the auction to a close. 

 

People got upset and demanded he auction the other more valuable works. Then the lawyers addressed the crowd…

 

“My client was very clear… whoever gets the son, gets the whole lot.”

 

It is the same with your life.. Whoever looks to Jesus, gets the whole lot, everything!

 

 

CHOOSE WITH EYES WIDE OPEN

 

As I said before, you are free to choose, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your choice.  In this series we want to look at the choices you make in your life and ensure that you are making godly, right choices.  If you fill your heart with God’s Word, fill your mind with godly advice and fill your eyes with Jesus, you can make the right choices.

 

James 1:5 (ESV Strong's)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

 

Ask God, He won’t let you down!

 

 But it all starts with Jesus, and if you have never asked Him into your life, or if you are not walking with Him, you are in danger of making a critical bad choice, one which might even destroy your life long into the future.

 

1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

 “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

 

Today, some of you are facing choices, even critical, important choices that will affect yourself and those around you forever.

 

We want to stand with you, pray with you and help you to make wise, godly decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUEL

 

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV Strong's)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

 

I want to ask you to be a part of something that’s big, and something that will grow into a wonderful ministry as Ignite grows.

 

Food has been an integral part of mankind from the beginning… we are the only ones who eat at tables. In our modern tech saturated, high paced, fast food world, I believe we need to get back to

 

Matthew 26:26 (ESV Strong's)

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

 

We need help in reinstating the use the table in ministry and fellowship. E need your help in the food and serving ministries. If you don’t fancy yourself singing in the worship team, doing maintenance on the building or leading a connect group, then FUEL is a great opportunity to serve, as many of you desire to do, and become a big part of what we are doing here at church.

 

FUEL is not about serving food, it’s a bout serving people, and we want to give you the opportunity to be a part of a winning team.

 

I’ve been to pastor’s conferences and meetings where the food has just blown people away. I have personally been so blessed by the quality and presentation of food, and I believe we can do that here. So far we have had great family lunches and so on, but God has shown us that, with a little bit of coordination, we could make food at Ignite a powerful ministry that blesses and touches peoples hearts in a greater way,

 

Acts 6:2-5 (ESV Strong's)

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

 

I know the kind of things that hold you back…

 

 

Fear. You worry that if you cook or serve that people might reject it, that your might be the only untouched plate at lunch.

Inadequacy. You don’t feel like a gourmet chef, or like you don’t cook as good as someone else.

Timidity. You don’t push yourself forward  and you’re just use to not being involved and feeling overlooked, like you are not as talented as someone else and don’t deserve a ministry like this.

Forgetfulness. You’re worried you will miss a roster and be embarrassed or let people down, or that you go away too much to be of use. You say things like, “If I’m here I’ll help, but don’t count on me.”

Time and Money. You’re worried about the time this ministry might take and how much it will cost on your current budget.

You have the opportunity to be raised up in ministry like Stephen was, and the satisfaction of seeing people happy and blessed is yours.

 

1 Timothy 6:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

 

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The Holy Spirit and You- Ps Keith Heale

April 9, 2018

The Holy Spirit and you is the title of this great message from Pastor Keith Heale, and I believe it has application for us all, no matter where our walk with the Lord is at the moment.

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The Hope of Easter

April 2, 2018

We live in a world without hope. Australia in the 21st century is a nation of absent fathers, broken families, broken lives, addictions, abuses and confused morals. We live in a nation that calls wrong right, and destroys long cherished truths in the name of modernism, political correctness and progress.

 

Across the globe, terrorism is an ever present threat, so people live in fear constantly. War could erupt at any time with North Korea. Our economies could collapse at any time, and our people, with all the modern conveniences of the Internet, Facebook, Instagram and the like, our people are more lonely and isolated than ever before.

 

And people are angry! Road rage, rants on Facebook, people are getting angrier about seemingly more trivial things. Families broken, kids on drugs, binge drinking on the rise… surely we feel like a people without hope.

 

We live seemingly in a world without hope.

 

HOPE DEFERRED

 

A Russian sub sank and the men were still alive but trapped far below the surface. Their communications were damaged, so the military sent a sub down to investigate and see if there were any survivors.  When they got close they heard a repetitive tapping… it was the men inside using Morse code. The message was this… IS THERE ANY HOPE?

 

The Bible says,

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Many of us have experienced the feeling of having hope deferred, and we know how it makes you feel sick. If you are leaving a job or moving house, as long as you have a definite date, you feel like you can face it. But if there is no definitive timeframe, or worse if they keep moving the goalposts just when you get close, you often can begin to lose all hope!

 

Holocaust survivor Dr Jacob Eisenbach was asked how he survived years in Auschwitz said, “No matter how dark the clouds may be, there will always be a day when the sun will break through. Which means, never lose hope for a better tomorrow…That hope has been my guide.”

 

In prison camps, in trapped situations, people often feel that they have no hope, and it’s the loss of hope breaks the spirit. Dr Eisenbach had hope, but many around him probably did not.

 

WHEN HOPE DIES

 

We have all at some point experienced a loss of hope. The disciples were exactly there on what we now call Good Friday, which for them was anything but good, it was the end of the world as they knew it!

 

On Friday we talked about Christ’s agony as He laid down His life for us. What I want you to do now is to put yourself in the place of the disciples that terrible Friday.

 

They'd seen it with their own eyes, the death of the One they love. They heard Him cry out, they'd seen the spear thrust into His side, they saw blood and water pour out . They knew He was dead, that He'd been placed in a tomb, wrapped in cloth with spices. They’d surely seen the massive rock rolled across the entrance. They probably were aware of the guard on the tomb. This was the end game… Their Saviour and their hope was dead and buried!

 

And their hopes had died that day with Jesus. Their dreams of greatness, their dreams of being set free from Roman domination, their dreams for their own lives, their families, their ministries, all lay dead in the tomb beside their friend. If hope deferred makes the heart sick, hope destroyed leads to death!

 

Jesus had promised big, promise life, being set free, saving the world, but on that dark, miserable Friday He'd died, just like any man might. The centurion said truly this man was the Son if God, but all the disciples saw was a dead body, and no hope for the future!  Some of you here may feel like Job…

Job 17:11,15

My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart. Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?

Today here perhaps your hopes, like those of the disciples, have died. Your hopes for this year, your dreams of a successful business, your hopes of finding a loving, perfect partner in life, your hopes of a together family, your inner desires for ministry. Maybe today they lay shattered in the ground. Perhaps you lost that job, maybe your marriage broke down, maybe your family looks ok on the surface but behind closed doors it's falling apart. Perhaps that child you love so much is breaking your heart.

 

Like those disciples so long ago, maybe you've lost hope. Like them, perhaps you feel like you're standing on the boulevard of broken dreams, standing outside the tomb of everything you've hoped and believed for, burying the hopes you once had, settling for what you’ve been dealt in life. The disciples were there, they saw everything crumble right before their eyes, and despair won the day.

 

That Friday Jesus laid His life down for your sin, but thanks be to God He didn't stay there.

 

THE EMPTY TOMB

 

If that tomb cut into the rock still held the body of Jesus, then we are to be pitied above all men and we are devoid of hope.  If His body lay decaying there in the cold tomb, then we have no hope, and we are believing a lie.

 

1 Corinthians 15:17-20

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 

But His body isn’t there! As women approached the tomb of Jesus, they saw an angel who said,

 

Matthew 28:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

 “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

 

Folder facecloth

 

Buddha is buried somewhere in a tomb. Mohammad , Confucius, they're buried somewhere, but you won’t find the body of Jesus Christ, because He ain’t there! He is alive! 3 days after being executed, Jesus exploded out of the tomb. He's alive, and everything He promised those disciples, and everything He promises you, is alive as well.

 

Because Jesus is alive, and we have a hope for this life and the next!

 

HOPE IS ALIVE

 

Someone has been quoted as saying: We can live forty days without food, eight days without water, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without hope.

When the Bible talks about hope, it is not the same way we do. When we say hope, we mean maybe… I hope tomorrow will be sunny. I hope she loves me.

 

But when the Bible talks about hope, it is an absolute surety. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness. When the Bible says hope, it’s a done deal not a maybe.

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 6:19 (ESV Strong's)

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

When Jesus rose and conquered death, He unleashed a hope that the gates of hell cannot prevail against! It’s not just a possibility, it’s not even a maybe, this is the surety that we can turn to Him and repent and receive eternal life.

 

This Easter, you may be coming off a tough year. You might have had difficult times in business, work or in the family. You might be carrying pain from what someone you love has said or done, or from another church even, and you come to Easter Sunday, feeling like the disciples back on Good Friday, dreams dead, drowning in despair, settling for what life has dealt you.

 

If you feel devoid of hope, or maybe you want to believe God’s promises for your life but somehow you cannot seem to stir that hope within yourself, Then I want to finish with 5 Steps towards renewing the hope within…

 

It is a simple as A,B,C,D,E.

 

A.     ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BURDEN

 

If you feel that hope has deserted you, the first step towards renewal is to acknowledge the pain and loss. We have a great tendency to shovel this painful stuff under the carpet and soldier on, but this solves nothing because you know the devil is going to drag it out and throw at you sometime soon, right?

 

We Pentecostals have a tremendous and often ridiculous ability to fake things, being so concerned about staying upbeat and positive we even lie to ourselves. Now while I believe that our words should be positive, I don’t advocate lying to ourselves. I’m Aussie, I don’t like fakes!  Listen to Abraham’s faith and hope…

 

Romans 4:18-21 (ESV Strong's)

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

 

Abraham didn’t shovel stuff under the carpet and positively confess, he looked doubt square in the face and said, without wavering, “You might be big, but my God is bigger and my hope is in Him, not you! So get out of the way, hopelessness, because resurrection power is coming through!”

 

 

B.      BRING YOUR BURDEN TO JESUS

 

The Christian life is not a life free of burden. It is not a case of come to Jesus and it’s all peaches and cream and roses for the rest of your life. We all face burdens, some of which are nailed to this cross here. Jesus said,

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong's)

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.”

 

You still have burdens as a Christian, but they are fashioned for you by your loving Father, and they are light and easy to pull. The resurrection life that Jesus brings us gives us burdens that we can carry without pain, rubbing, chaffing or strain and without hope sapping effort.

 

He doesn’t remove all troubles, He doesn’t take you around all pain. But resurrection life gives supernatural power to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with confidence, courage and peace. Today, bring your burden to Him!

 

C.      CONFESS DOUBT AS SIN

 

Not trusting in God, no matter how you dress it up, it is sin. Please don’t get threatened or offended by that statement if your hope is low, and don’t just try and reason your way out of in… Just recognise that not trusting God is a sin, just like any other because it separates you from God.

 

James 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

 

So, if you know you should trust Him and haven’t been and it you feel hope has waned, don’t beat yourself up over it, and don’t shovel it under the table… just confess it and move on!

 

 

D.     DELIGHT IN THE LORD

 

This is the awesome thing about our hope… our hope is not in a religion, not a system, not a series of beliefs or philosophies… our hope is in a person!

 

Psalms 20:7 (ESV Strong's)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

 

Our hope is in a person, and the closer we get to that person, the deeper our hope and ultimately the greater our blessings in life.

 

Psalms 37:4 (ESV Strong's)

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ shows us that He has conquered death, and that He lives in power! And this same power lives in us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

 

So when you delight in Him, when you truly grow close to Him, His hope becomes your way of life… But to get this close to Jesus, you cannot just do the bare minimum to get what you want. Loving Him is not just going through the motions. It takes time and effort, but here’s the deal…

 

When you truly delight in Him, He gives you the desires of your heart. Why? Because the closer you get to Him, the more His desires become your desires.

 

So how do we delight in the Lord?  How do we get to know Him more? We read His Word every day, we pray and we seek fellowship with those who love Him too. Come to church, get involved, get excited! And as you delight in the Lord, make sure that your eyes are fixed on Him. Don’t look anywhere except at Jesus. Don’t get deflected, don’t get distracted, get delighted, and watch what happens when He delights right back at you!

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

 

E.      ETERNAL LIFE STARTS NOW!

 

In a few moments we will watch people being baptised. So what’s that all about? Well, baptism is among other’s things a symbol, an outward expression of what we have experienced.

 

Romans 6:4-6 (ESV Strong's)

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

 

Jesus was raised so that we might walk in the newness of life! Jesus did not die and rise again to make bad men good, He died to make dead men live.

 

Galatians 2:20 (ESV Strong's)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

This is the hope we have, this is what gives us such excitement here at Ignite, we are all new creations. That’s what Easter Sunday is about… Christ died on Friday so our sins are forgiven, but He rose from death on Sunday to show that we have eternal life. That life is not pie in the sky when you die by and by, its starts right here, right now. Jesus promises life to the full starting now!

 

The old is gone, the new has come, and that gives us hope that exceeds anything the world has to offer.

 

Resurrection power means we no longer have to live defeated lives. I can’t Live a victorious life, either can you, but God’s Holy Spirit within us can help us live the greatest life imaginable!  In the power of God, when we are controlled by His Spirit, we can face any foe without fear. Governments, terrorists, mortgages, people attacking us, anything life can throw at us we can face without fear, including the biggest fear we all have… the fear of death.

 

DEATH IS DEAD

 

One thing we all have in common is that we all must face death. There’s no way around that.

 

Steven Hawking passed away a few weeks ago, a famous scientist and a self confessed atheist. He said he did not believe God existed, but I can tell you right now he’s found out the truth.

 

Death for the Christian is not a full stop, it's only a comma. As Billy Graham put it, it’s just a change of address!  Those without Christ fear death, but we shouldn’t!

 

1 Corinthians 15:55 (ESV Strong's)

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

 

There is no sting in death, there is no fear! How can we face death without fear? Because we are already living life!

 

Eternal life doesn’t start after you die, it starts now. When we live life and life to the full, when we live each day full of Holy Spirit power, then eternal life begins now! The sure promise of eternal life gives us the certain hope to face anything this life can throw at us.

 

Missionary coming home

THE GREAT ESCAPE

 

Steve McQueen, star of many western movies and my favourite, “The Great Escape,” accepted Christ and asked to meet Billy Graham. He was heading to Mexico for filming, and shared a short ride to the airport with Billy Graham. He was fighting cancer at the time, and asked Dr Graham how he could be assured of eternal life. Billy Graham underlined

 

Titus 1:2

in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

 

And Billy Graham gave his Bible to Steve McQueen.

 

The actor passed away a few weeks later. His body was flown back to LA, and he was buried at his request with Billy Graham's Bible open on his chest, and his finger pointing to this verse…

 

Titus 1:2

in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.

 

POWER TO LIVE RIGHT NOW!

 

Easter Sunday is not about rabbits, Or chocolate eggs. Today, resurrection Sunday is about hope. Hope restored, hope to face anything, hope that fills us, hope that is alive just as Jesus is alive today!

 

10 of the 11 disciples who saw Jesus resurrected died for their faith. No one dies for something they know is a fake. No, Christ’s resurrection is real, and He can live in and through you powerfully from this moment on!

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the resurrection of hope, a hope that will never fail. It's the rock on which we stand, it's the power by which we live, it's the hope we have for all eternity. This hope is here today for you, if you want it!

 

Colossians 1:27

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

This morning I want to offer you the chance to experience life, and life to the full, life that starts now and never ceases.  If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, pray this prayer with me…

 

 

If you have asked Jesus into your life, stop right now and have a look at that life. Are you living the life Jesus wants you to live? Is your life filled with joy and power and victory?

 

I want to offer you the opportunity to be filled with Jesus Christ’s resurrection power. If you are finding life a struggle or a slog, if you are not living with real power in your life, come to Jesus this morning and we will ask Him to fill you with the resurrection power of His Holy Spirit, to live the life He has destined for you!

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The Agony of Good Friday

April 2, 2018

Today is what we call Good Friday, where we remember the crucifixion. But what we call good was agony to Jesus, so today I want to examine the 7 agonies He chose to face, not because He wanted to, not because He gained anything personally, but because He loved us, and His mission was to save us from the agony of hell.

 

WHY DID WE NEED A GOOD FRIDAY?

 

God is holy. We are sinful. This places a barrier between us and God, a separation that nothing we can do or say can bridge. People think that if they do enough good in their lives so it outweighs the bad things we do, then we can get to heaven. Listen, you can be the nicest guy in the world, and when you die you’ll be the nicest guy in hell!

 

God knew, from before the foundation of the world, that all men are sinful. His holiness prevents Him from interacting with evil. He loves us. He wants to spend eternity with us, but He cannot do this by lowering the standard and accepting sin. If He did, heaven would be hell!

 

So God’s solution was to send His one and only Son, a sinless, perfect Son, to pay the price of death that we should have paid.

 

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

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

 

Jesus was a man on a mission, to save all those who would accept it.

 

You might ask, if God is so loving, why doesn’t He save everyone. He opens the way for everyone to be saved, as the Bible says,

 

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

But some refuse to accept His free gift! They would rather live in rebellion to God than accept His free gift of eternal life. When Jesus hung in that cross, His died for all mankind, so this Good Friday, make sure that you are one of those that accepts Jesus free gift of eternal life!

 

 

The Latin or Roman word for crucifixion is CRUCIERE, from which we get the English word, excruciating, meaning intense, unbearable pain.

 

On the cross, Jesus suffered for 3 hours in this excruciating pain under the intense heat of a Palestinian sun before God said enough, and covered the world in a supernatural darkness. Jesus continued to suffer another 3 hours until He gave up His Spirit.

 

The cross is not about decorating the tops of churches, nor is it a cute symbol to place around your neck. When we as Christians look at the cross, we should understand and remember the unbearable agony Jesus faced to complete His mission.

 

This Good Friday, I want to share with you the 7 agonies of the cross.

 

People often say that their troubles in life are unique, and that God wouldn’t  understand. Well, let me show you how and why Jesus understands what you face. One day in the life of Jesus.  That first Good Friday, Jesus faced infinitely more than we could ever bear…

 

 

1.      THE AGONY OF CHOICE

 

Have you ever felt the agony of choosing to give up something you cherish? Jesus understands.

 

Jesus is God. He is a servant, and a sacrifice, and a Saviour, and a Son, but He is also God. So right back at the beginning, Jesus faced a choice… to stay where He was, exalted and honoured, enjoying perfect fellowship with God the Father, while we were all of us lost to an eternity in hell, or He could choose to give it all up to offer us the salvation we desperately needed…

 

Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV Strong's)

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

Jesus faced the agony of choosing to leave His home in glory and be humbled, even to the point of letting puny man torture and crucify Him. Never think that nails held Jesus to the cross. He could have changed His mind at any time, but He chose not to.

 

Nails did not hold Him to the cross… love did, His choice to love and redeem you is what kept Him there. We don’t deserve such love, but Jesus chose to give it anyway, even though He knew some would reject it and throw it back in His face!

 

 

2.      THE AGONY OF BETRAYAL

 

Have you ever been betrayed or let down by someone you love. Someone you trusted, someone you gave yourself to, someone you blessed and cared for… and thy betray you! Jesus understands.

 

Mark 14:18 (ESV Strong's)

And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”

 

Someone He loved, someone He served, someone He cared for and trusted and was eating with was about to betray Him, of all things with a kiss, a supposed sign of affection.

 

And of the rest of His friends, they all fled and let Him down when He most needed them. Peter even denied Him 3 times.

 

Jesus understands the agony or betrayal by friends and being forsaken and let down by those you trusted.

 

 

3.      THE AGONY OF FALSE ACCUSATION

 

Have you ever been accused unjustly? Ever been misunderstood and someone takes things the wrong way and accuses you of something you never intended? Jesus understands?

 

Matthew 27:12-14 (ESV Strong's)

But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

 

If you have been attacked and falsely accused, the hardest thing is to not defend yourself. Yet Jesus did that, because as they mocked Him, hit Him, spat upon Him, tortured Him and dragged Him off to be murdered, He looked to God to vindicate Him… He didn’t try and argue His way out.

 

Jesus understands what it is like to be falsely accused or misunderstood.

 

4.      THE AGONY OF ATTACK

 

Have you ever been attacked by others unprovoked, even though you have done nothing? Jesus understands.

 

Matthew 27:29-30 (ESV Strong's)

and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.

 

Elsewhere the Bible describes His back as being like a plowed field, ripped to pieces by the cat o nine tails, into which was sown pieces of metal and bone.

 

If you have suffered unjust attacks, have you been hurt by others… Then Jesus cares and understands.

 

 

5.      THE AGONY OF PERSEVERANCE

 

Have you ever experienced the agony of having to persevere, even when it hurts or it is breaking your heart? Do you know what it’s like to not give up on someone or something, even when the pain hurts so badly? Jesus understands, because He prayed this in the garden of Gethsemane

 

Luke 22:42 (ESV Strong's)

 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

 

Sometimes we have to persevere and see something through, even when it hurts. Sometimes we must persevere with situations, with relationships and with people who hurt us. Jesus could have quit in us, but He never gave up on us. He will never give up on you. The Bible says He set His face like flint, determined to see His mission through because He loves you. No matter what you have done, He loves you, and His free gift of grace is here for you this Easter.

 

You may have given up on God at some time, but He never gave up on you!

 

 

6.      THE AGONY OF CRUCIFIXION

 

We experience pain. Physical pain, emotional and mental pain. But this is nothing compared to the excruciating pain Jesus chose to face for you and me.

 

They laid the cross member down and secured it to the rest of the cross. They then held out His quivering hands and feet and drove massive nails, much like what they secure railway sleepers with, through His wrists and ankles.  If they went through His hands the flesh would tear, but through His wrists and ankles the body would be pinned in agony to the cross.

 They they raised it up and dropped it into the socket in the ground. Imagine the jarring pain!

 

And there He hung in agony. He could have called down a legion of angels to remove Him from the cross, but Jesus chose not to. He hung there in agony for you and me.

 

On the cross. You died of suffocation, which is why they later went to break the legs of the others on the crosses.

 

To draw breath into His lungs He had to lift Himself up on the nails, but then the pain drove Him into unconsciousness. He then fell, until the need for air revived Him, and this went on in an endless cycle of excruciating agony, until He chose the moment to die.

 

Jesus underwent physical agony, excruciating physical agony for you.

 

7.      THE AGONY OF SEPARATION

 

The greatest agony of all came at the end of the crucifixion.  After 6 tortuous, agonising hours,

Matthew 27:46

Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

My God the Father, my God the Holy Spirit, why have you forsaken me?

 

At that point God turned away from His beloved Son. In those moments a holy God, who cannot even look upon sin, saw your sin and my sin piled upon the shoulders of Jesus, and He rejected His one and only Son. At that moment Jesus bore our sins instead of us, He stood in our place, and suffered separation from the Father instead of us, opening the way for us to stand sinless before Him.

 

Then it says this…

Matthew 27:50

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

 

He slumped, dead on that cross. They ultimately didn't take His life, He yielded it. He could have stopped it at any time, but Jesus chose the time when He yielded His life and pain for your sin and my sin.

 

The greatest agony was being separate from God the Father. That is hell.

 

Why? He didn’t have to do this, but He did… Because He loves us.

 

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

 

Today we remember the agonies Christ went through for you and me.

 

Isaiah 53:4-6 (ESV Strong's)

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

 

On Sunday we will talk about the joys and life of the resurrection of Christ, but today we focus on the agonies of the cross, the price Jesus paid to give us eternal life. It is free for all, but not all receive it…

 

When I look at the cross tells me is that whatever pain you have experience, whatever betrayal, heartache or burden you struggle with, Jesus not only relates and has experienced even more, but He has provided a way forward for you.

 

Today this Good Friday Jesus reminds you that He died for you. Truly He has earned the right to carry your pain and burdens, instead of you.

 

All it takes is a decision to accept His gift. Say yes today, say yes right now!

 

When you look at the cross, how will you respond this Good Friday. For the One who gave so much, what can you offer in return? Get right with Him, and make this Good Friday the best Friday. Today Jesus says come…

 

Revelation 22:17 (ESV Strong's)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

 

Jesus is asking you to come, and you need to say, yes, Lord.

 

If you have never asked Jesus you’re your life, you can right now…choose to accept this wonderful gift.

 

And if you already know Him, it’s time to stop trying to live your life in your strength.  So for now, I want you to think of what your greatest burden is right now, your greatest need, your greatest struggle.

 

It might be a sin, it could be a challenge. It might be a relationship gone wrong, a child who has turned away, a conflict at work.

 

Write it down, we are going to pray, give it to Jesus, then come forward.

 

1 Peter 5:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

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Spiritual Success 5- Shining and Sharing

March 26, 2018

We’ve all agreed that becoming a spiritual success is what we want to see happen. And we have seen that the steps involve reading the Bible daily, praying constantly, fellowshipping at the right church, giving of yourself and and your money, and now the final step in becoming a true spiritual success is shining and sharing your faith.

 

WE ARE CHRIST’S BILLBOARDS

 

As you drive along the motorway you see billboards, and they are designed to capture your attention. They are easily seen, and often have a slogan in them that intrigues, shocks or otherwise makes you look.

 

Most people in our nation will never enter a church building apart from maybe a wedding or funeral. They will never read the Bible. You and I are the only Bible they will ever see, the only contact with a church they will ever experience.

 

Romans 10:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

You are the billboard, you are the one who is sent and you, church, not the pastor, not the guy with evangelism as their spiritual gift, you and I are the ones to show Jesus and preach the good news to them!

 

Spiritually successful Christians make others look, even if they themselves are quiet and unassuming.

 

And remember, kindness, love, respect, miracles, signs and wonders, all of these are links in the chain of salvation, but none of them actually save people. 

 

Ten million signs and wonders would not make this world turn to Christ, because belief is a choice. Ultimately people choose to either accept Christ, or reject Him. You’re responsible in sharing your faith, but you are not responsible for the decision they make.

 

 

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO SHINE

 

John Stott said, “We should not ask, “What is wrong with the world?” for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, “What has happened to the salt and light?”

 

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV Strong's)

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

Every one of us is called to shine for Jesus, to be salt and light to a world that is a mess. Whether you fancy yourself as an evangelist, whether you have that gift or not, sharing your faith starts with you shining for Jesus. Very often it’s what you do rather than what you say that is the most important thing in reaching out to others.

 

Uncle Erick story… On his way to church in his Sunday suit and saw a neighbour digging out his grease trap. He went home, changed into his overalls, skipped church and got down and dirty and smelly in the hole with the man… a few weeks later that man came to Christ.

 

If you are not living a life they respect, why should they bother to listen to you?  If you’re gossiping, exploding in anger, manipulating people or holding grudges, your words carry little power. If they see you as honest, stable and kind, someone with their life together, they will listen to you, I promise you! Especially if their life is a mess.

 

But don’t think you need to be a stellar Christian to share your faith. I’ve seen drug addicts lead other drug addicts to the Lord. You don’t have to be perfect to shine, but you cannot influence others for Christ if you do not have the right to speak into their life. When they see a change in your life, you earn that right.  

 

And the reality is, you need to be sharing your faith as much as they need to be hearing about it? Shining for Jesus builds builds upon your credibility as a person, but you need to couple shining with something else… sharing your faith, or speaking about Jesus.

 

Check Dr Billy Graham being interviewed by Woody Allen on out Facebook page…

 

https://www.facebook.com/ignitechristianchurch

 

 

DON’T BE THE DEAD SEA

 

If you are alive in Christ you should be sharing your faith.

 

The Dead Sea in Israel is the lowest point on earth, more than 400m below sea level. It is renowned as being deadly because of the lethally high salt content. Why is it so poisonous? The river Jordan flows into it, but nothing flows out, that’s why it is dead. And so many Christians are like that… we get plenty of teaching, tons of input but give nothing back.

 

Greg Laurie said, “Input without output is hazardous to our faith.” We become like the Dead Sea.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV Strong's)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

 

If you are getting good teaching, if you are growing in Christ reading His Word, start using it, start handling the Word of truth correctly. Let God’s truth flow through you to others, don’t be a typical Christian and stagnate!

 

SHARING YOUR FAITH EFFECTIVELY

 

I would like to run a seminar to detail how to effectively share your faith. Please don’t be put off by this, it is a very simple thing. The gospel is simple, not complicated. It is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.

 

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV Strong's)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

Sharing your faith should be natural and reflect our relationship with Christ. I don’t want to Bible bash people, I don’t want to offend them or manipulate them into a decision they are not actually making. Jesus made you the way you are so that you can gently and naturally share your faith in a way that sits right with your personality.

 

So what are the steps to sharing your faith effectively, even for a non evangelist?

 

 

1.      CONNECT WITH PEOPLE

 

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I’ve been involved in all kinds of evangelism around the world, and have travelled with Dr Bill Newman across the globe, but he would tell you that the mass evangelism campaigns we have are just a platform for personal evangelism.

 

Romans 12:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

 

Aussies hate arrogance, so don’t be superior, don’t be self absorbed and don’t preach at them. Step one is to just connect with people, where they are at.

 

Brett plays in a band and often tells people about his faith in the club where they are playing. Some of you mums share with other mums at school. Glen shares Jesus from his Harley. Some of you builders talk to tradies on the building site. I often talk to people who come for an eye test and get the gospel as well. Last week I spent half an hour sharing my faith with one of my staff.

 

Whenever you meet people, the first step is to connect with them, and love them with gentleness and respect.  Don’t Bible bash them, take the time to talk to them, connect with them, listen to them about their life and their struggles…

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

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,

 

If I meet a salesman who pitches vigorously in my face… I feel disrespected. If I meet someone I can trust, someone who listens and seems to care about me, I am more inclined to respond positively.

 

 

2.      KNOW THE WORD

 

When Peter preached the first sermon in Acts 2, he quoted Scripture. Now you don’t have to quote verse and reference, but you ought to have enough of the Word in your life so the Lord can quicken it to your heart as you need it sharing your faith.

 

Artists know their brushes, builders know their tools, musicians know their instruments, so you should know your tools. Your tool is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and God promises this…

 

Isaiah 55:11

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

 

I have memorised, learned and studied the Bible, and so as I speak to people I find verses popping into my head, quickened to my spirit as the bible calls it.

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The Word of God is living and active, and it penetrates people’s hearts, and divides or separates good from evil, right from wrong, sin from righteousness. That verse says it discerns, which in Greek means judges, the thoughts and intentions of their heart.

 

Using Scripture as you talk to others penetrates more than the best of your words or your fine sounding arguments.

 

You can not argue someone into Heaven, only the Holy Spirit breaks the yoke, and only the Holy Spirit can save a soul, and He uses the Word of God.

 

Ask the Gideon’s, who have countless testimonies of people coming to Christ just by reading a bible in a hotel room or prison cell.

 

Salvation is a spiritual act. You may feel that people need convincing, but behind it all there are demons and principalities that need to be overcome, and your words do not cut it. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, and if you don’t know the Word, you are fighting with bare hands with your sword still in its scabbard!

 

 

3.      BE CHRIST CENTRED AND CLEAR

 

There are so many issues people talk about, and you need godly opinions, but don’t get diverted, keep the main thing the main thing. You will not win people to Christ arguing about same sex marriage, creation science or the Shroud of Turin. Facts may be part of the journey, but they alone will not save people.

 

Titus 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

 

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

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

 

If you want people to come to Jesus, talk about Jesus! You might have an opinion on various issues, but getting on Facebook and offending people about non salvation issues will not bring them to Christ. You might win the argument and send them to hell for eternity, is that a good deal?

 

You can share your testimony, you can share your experiences by all means, because a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.

 

Why not memorise a few verses about Jesus and the gospel, like John 3:16 or Romans 5:8?

 

 

4.      CALL THEM TO REPENTANCE

 

We rarely hear about repentance these days, even sadly in gospel preaching, but for people to come to Christ they must acknowledge their need of Him.

 

How can people agree to be saved when they have no concept of what they are being saved from? They might look at their life and be sorry for what they’ve done, but that’s not the same as repentance.

 

Remorse is being sorry. But repentance is being sorry enough to change.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

People are generally sorry not for what they have done, but they are sorry for being caught or suffering the consequences.

 

In our modern society, we have a huge tendency to pass blame for our bad behaviour or decisions.  We abdicate responsibility, we blame others, we always have.  Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on!

 

So often today we excuse bad behaviour because we’ve convinced ourselves it is someone else’s fault. I only did this because you did that to me. My sin is because of my parents, my partner, my upbringing, my circle of friends, my church, my job and anyone else… except me!

 

Here’s the top 7 ridiculous lawsuits won, all from the US…

 

  1. I tripped over my own toddler in your furniture store and broke my ankle… $750,000
  2. I spilled hot coffee on my lap and burned myself… $2.5m
  3. I locked myself in your garage while robbing your house and could not get out because you were on vacation… $500,000
  4. Your chained up beagle bit me after I climbed your fence and fired pellets at him… $14,500
  5. I slipped on the soft drink I threw at my boyfriend in your restaurant and broke my tailbone… $113,500
  6. I burned myself on an uninsulated wire while trespassing on your property… $24m
  7. Red bull didn’t give me wings… $13m

 

Listen, regardless of upbringing, relationships, friends  and the tough life you’ve been dished, at some point if you want to change your life you need to acknowledge your guilt, and step up to take responsibility for your decisions.

 

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

In other words, man up and take responsibility for what you’ve done or become!

 

And so it is with the gospel… when people have the revelation that they are sinners, destined for hell, but that Jesus paid the price for them and died in their place, then they are truly ready to receive Christ.

 

And we need to understand that too. People out there are lost. We call them sinners, unchurched, unbelievers, non-Christians, but the reality is that they are lost. If they die tonight, they face judgement and eternity in hell, so we need to find the best way to reveal that fact to them.

 

5.      ASK THE QUESTION WHEN YOU SHARE YOUR FAITH …

 

 

If you talk to someone about the Lord, if you share you faith and don’t ask a question, it’s like a preacher who preaches well but never asks for a response. At Ignite that doesn’t happen, because I always preach to a verdict, to a response. It’s like a salesman, who does the greatest pitch ever then fails to close the sale by simply asking, “Do you want to buy it?”

 

I will often ask people to pray to ask Jesus into their lives in church. Often no one responds. I’m not embarrassed. It’s God’s problem, not mine, I just need to keep faithfully asking as I feel led.

 

So don’t be afraid, just ask and let God be God. We are responsible to ask, but we are not responsible for their reply to that question. Peter said,

 

Romans 10:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

Peter spelled out exactly how to be saved, and challenged the crowd, and 3,000 came to Christ that day. Be bold, be courageous and just ask. The worst that can happen is that they say no or not right now. The best is that they accept Christ and live with Him for eternity!

 

BE A LINK IN A CHAIN

 

When people come to Jesus it is usually a long and convoluted journey. Long before they meet you or anyone else, the Holy Spirit has been working in their life, preparing the soil for a harvest of salvation. You might be the first Christian they have ever talked to, you might be one of many in their journey, or you may have the privilege of leading them right through for the Lord.

 

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

 

In the chain of their salvation you could be the first link in the chain, the middle link or the last link.. Just don’t be the missing link!

 

You do not have to force every person you talk to into making a decision to receive Christ on the spot.  Just be faithful, take them a little further on the journey, as far as they are prepared to go, and believe the Lord to complete the rest.

 

You cannot save them, they have to make the decision, and God’s grace is there for them…

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV Strong's)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Arthur Stace was a quiet, unassuming ex-alcoholic who walked the streets of Sydney before dawn every day for 37 years, and never led one person to Christ personally. But every day he wrote a single word in the pavement in yellow chalk, and that word led to the conversion of thousands of people to Christ… the Word was “Eternity”.

 

WHOSE LINE  IS IT ANYWAY?

 

Remember, ultimately a person is responsible for their own decision to accept or reject Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to save souls, and our job is simply shining and sharing our faith.

 

Ultimately, salvation is a choice, and it is a choice they make, not you. Only the Holy Spirit can draw people into the Kingdom, not you, so we do not need to see a result or try and make people get saved… those are the Holy Spirit’s lines, not ours.

 

Our job is to shine, but to shine brightly in this dark world. Yet we must not fool ourselves or compromise our witness for Christ.

 

St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and where necessary use words.” What he is suggesting is that you let your life shine for Christ, but I believe He is wrong on the second part… you must also use words. Otherwise, they think you’re a nice person and a great guy, and Christ isn’t honoured, you are! So couple your shining with words that tell them the reasons why you act in such a noble way…

 

Let me finish with 2 verses we have already used…

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

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,

 

THE SHINING AND SHARING CHALLENGE

 

If you have never asked Jesus into your heart, now is a great time to do it. The Bible says we have all sinned, the Bible says we are all guilty and are destined for hell. You don’t need to be good enough to be saved, you just need to be humble enough to accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

 

Think of one person you know who doesn’t know Christ, and then pray for an opportunity to shine and to share. It’s not enough just to do good and shine, and it’s not enough just to tell them you’re a Christian, you need to do both!

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