Me in the Mirror 2- See Your True Value

June 18, 2018

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you see yourself as valuable, as special, as unique, as precious? In this second message on the me in the mirror, I want to focus on seeing yourself as God sees you… valuable, special and precious!

 

According to the Mayo clinic in 2010, if we take a human being and boil them down to their base elements, and sell them, they are worth around $4.50 on today’s market. But even evolutionists believe people are worth far more than that.

 

Everybody thinks they are worth more than $4.50, right? Why would ladies spend $50+ on shoes to put on 50c worth of feet? Guys, why would we spend $30 on a t-shirt to cover $1.20 worth of chest? We surely have greater value than our raw chemical makeup, but all over the world, in all walks of life, in all age groups, in all classes and no matter what you earn or achieve, people struggle with self esteem and feelings of worthlessness! Even famous and rich movie stars look in the mirror and hate what they see, and stars like Robin Williams, Philip Seymore Hoffman and Heath Ledger take their own lives, despite their fame and fortune!

 

YOU ARE PRECIOUS!

 

Listen, you are not an accident, regardless of whether your parents think you were! In God’s eyes, there are no accidents and there are no surprises because He has perfect knowledge and power.

 

King David contemplating this one day said this to God...

 

Psalms 139:13-16 (ESV Strong's)

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

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

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

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

 

The Hebrew word for formed is qana, which does not just mean creating from nothing but it implies ownership, as an inventor would claim ownership of his invention. God created you, and claims you as His own!

 

God says He knew us and claimed us even as we were formed in the womb. Man says you are simply a collection of cells until you are born, then you become human. If wombs had windows, we wouldn’t have abortion!

 

We live in a world that does it’s best to devalue human beings. We live in a society that values the rights of minorities more than the rights of the vast majority. Most people say they see human beings as valuable, but they don’t act like it. People use and abuse each other every day, putting their own interests first. Men see women as conquests, women see men as someone to meet their needs. Salespeople see you as a sale. Even churches can see you as a seat filled, or money in the plate.

 

God says you are valuable and precious, every one of you. That’s why throughout history, Christians have started the first hospitals, school and orphanages. Every life is precious to God, and should be to us. Your value is in who you are, not what someone else can get from you!

 

WE DO NOT SEE OURSELVES AS GOD SEES US

 

A professor in a college ethics class presented a problem to his students. He said, "A man has syphilis and his wife tuberculosis. They have had four children: one has died, the other three have what is considered to be a terminal illness. The mother is pregnant. What do you recommend?" After spirited discussion, the majority of the class voted that the mother should abort the child.

 

"Fine," said the professor, "You've just killed Beethoven!" When we judge the worth of a life, we play God without His power and complete knowledge… God says every life is precious and valuable, and every person can fulfil a destiny, should they choose to.

 

Jeremiah 1:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

 

Before birth God has a plan for you, a destiny for you, a purpose for your life. You are not an accident, you are not an inconvenience,  are not just another consumer in the market. From a tiny cell, you develop into … 60 trillion cells, 100 thousand miles of nerve fibre, 60 thousand miles of vessels carrying blood around the body, 250 bones, to say nothing of joints, ligaments and muscles.

 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, but even more than this, God has a destiny for you! You were not just made by Him, you were woven together, you are His workmanship, His masterpiece, with a purpose and a destiny to fulfil.

 

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV Strong's)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Yet, when we look in the mirror, most of us do not see ourselves as valuable and precious. We see our faults, our wrinkles, our blemishes, our pain. Why is it that most people, even Christians, fail to see their value and never reach their full potential?

 

INTRINSIC VALUE AND POTENTIAL

 

This $10 note is worth how much? $10, right? It is a piece of plastic, of little real value, but because the government backs this bit of plastic to be worth $10, it is. I cannot say I want $50 for this note, neither can I say it’s only worth 10c. The value in this note is not what it is made of, and it’s not what it or anyone else thinks about it, it is worth what its creator believes it is worth.

 

And so are you. You can only discover you true worth in life when you place yourself under the loving care of the one who created you. You are worth what your creator says, not what anybody else’s says you are worth!

 

Like a spring wound up, He sees potential energy stored in you that can be used for greatness. As a watch is created and wound up can run for days, so God sees incredible value in every one of us, and potential for greatness.

 

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.

 

These words were given by the prophet Jeremiah to a defeated and humiliated nation exiled in a hostile land. In the midst of pain and suffering, loss of material things, loss of loved ones and loss of hope, God loved His people and said He had a plan to prosper them and give them hope! The potential energy is still there, the hope is still alive.

 

Many come to Ignite because they have been hurt elsewhere, maybe away from God, away from church, out of fellowship, out of ideas and fresh out of hope. Many who come here have felt their dreams die, and feel useless and worthless. One of the gifts God has given me as a pastor is that when I meet you I see greatness. I seem to be able to see through the pain, through the circumstances and the exterior into the heart, and I see greatness in all of you! God’s plan, God’s destiny in your life is not dead, it is dormant, and my job is to stir it into life! You are valuable and you have purpose!

 

DESTINY LOST

 

So when you look in the mirror, do you see greatness? Do you see destiny fulfilled, or destiny lost? Do you see the image of a failure, or the image of Christ?

 

The dictionary defines destiny as fate, “the development of events outside a person's control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power.” God does not see destiny as fate… He sees destiny as a series of choices. Wrong choices cause you to lose your destiny. You fulfil your destiny by making not so much good choices, but God choices!

 

Romans 8:28-29 (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. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,

 

Your destiny is to look like God’s Son. Your destiny is greatness in His Kingdom. And all things work for good in this, all things, even the rotten, stinking failures and abuses we suffer. How can this be?

 

When we look into the mirror, we often don’t see our worth, and we cannot see the potential God sees in us. When we look at circumstances, we don’t see God’s overall plan. We see a small portion, but He sees the whole. We see the present, He sees a glorious future in us.

 

Ships need to float, yet they are made of steel. If you throw a piece of steel in water it will sink. A shipyard is full of all kinds of steel, and if you throw any single piece in the water it will sink, because steel sinks! However, once it is assembled and joined the right way, a massive, incredibly heavy steel ship actually floats. When you see it as a whole, you see its destiny.

 

God sees your life as a life of destiny. You are not a mistake, you are not here by accident, you have a destiny in this place. It’s not to work hard, make money have a nice family, have a fun life then die, it is a life of serving Him and blessing others. God’s plan is to see you flourish into the image of His Son, and to serve where He has called you. But destiny can be fulfilled, or lost, depending on the choices you make!

 

Throughout the Bible men and women have fulfilled their God given, God directed destiny. But many also tragically lost their destiny. Solomon started well, then his many wives turned his head away from God. Samson, Hezekiah, Uzziah, even Judas started following God, but lost their destiny.

 

Let me look at one of the saddest examples of destiny lost…

KING SAUL… BAD CHOICES = DESTINY LOST!

 

Saul was the first king of Israel, but came a time when he faced a fork in the road of his destiny. God had initially led Samuel right to him, and told him to anoint this young man. Saul was impressive to say the least! Tall, good looking with long wavy hair, he was like the Brad Pitt of his day, and everyone loved him. He should have been the greatest King of Israel!

 

1 Samuel 10:24 (ESV Strong's)

And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

 

This man prophesied, this man fought battles, this man was anointed King and looked the part. So what went wrong for Saul? He faced a fork in the road…

 

Remember I said destiny is a series of choices? Well, Saul consistently chose disobedience...

 

1 Samuel 13:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”

 

Saul stepped out of his destiny by usurping the role of priest, something he knew was wrong.  He feared that he was losing the people, and this fear caused him to do something offensive to God.  If you fear the reactions and opinions of people, then you can lose your destiny! Some here think they have lost their destiny because they listened to what people said about them.

 

Sometime later the Lord commanded Saul through Samuel to devote a town to destruction. Everything in this wicked and perverse town was to be destroyed, people, animals and things.

 

1 Samuel 15:12 (ESV Strong's)

And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.”

 

One hint about where Saul’s heart was going was this… On the way to this assignment, Saul stopped off to erect a statue to himself. Pride, in ourselves and our achievements, can cause us to lose our destiny. When we are prideful, we start making disobedient, arrogant decisions, decisions on our own, serving our own ends, not God’s choices for us. Some here fear they have lost their destiny because they made dumb choices, and suffered the consequences.

 

He then failed the assignment… disobeying by choosing to spare the evil king and the best of the spoils…

 

1 Samuel 15:9 (ESV Strong's)

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

 

A quick recap… Saul had a clear command from the Lord, but tempted by the goods, he chose deliberately to disobey the Lord, and spare the best things for himself. Suddenly Samuel arrives, so Saul recognises he is in trouble, but makes an attempt at deflecting his guilt…

 

1 Samuel 15:13-15 (ESV Strong's)

And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

 

Nice save Saul! When caught red handed, he concocts a lame excuse, to deflect guilt and save face… yes, I did what the Lord asked, but I kept the best animals, not for me, but for you Lord, to sacrifice to you!  Sadly for Saul, both God and Samuel clearly see Saul’s heart for what it is… disobedient.

 

1 Samuel 15:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

 

Saul pretends to be saving the good for sacrifice, then blames the people. But Samuel says…

 

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (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.

For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

 

Saul, the great man of destiny, the first King of Israel, lost his destiny, lost his throne, lost his lineage and eventually lost his life because he was not obedient!

 

STEPS TO REGAINING YOUR DESTINY?

 

As I have said, God created you with a purpose and a destiny, and He has desires and plans for you from before you were even born. Let me remind you…

 

Psalms 139:16 (ESV Strong's)

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

 

So if you have doubted that you are precious and valuable to Him, or if you’ve lost your destiny, let me show you the steps you can take to rediscover your value and destiny in God…

 

1.      RECOGNISE THAT YOU ARE PRECIOUS

 

The Lord shows us in Scripture that we are special and precious to Him.

 

Matthew 10:29-31 (MSG)

"What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.

 

God says it again and again, you are precious. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to redeem you, to buy you back from sin, to save you from an eternity in hell. However you slice it, you are a valuable person in the eyes of God.

 

2.      REMEMBER HE HAS A DESTINY FOR YOU

 

John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

 

God promises He has a plan and destiny for you. And it’s a good one, one that bears fruit that lasts forever! You are so precious to Him, He’s not out to get you, hurt you, bring you down or destroy you. You are precious and He has plans for you that are perfect!

 

3.      REPENT OF YOUR SIN

 

To begin to move towards your destiny, you have to start by repenting of your sin. Repentance doesn’t just mean being sorry for what your thought, said and done, it means turning 180 degrees around and changing your behaviour.

 

Acts 3:19-20 (ESV Strong's)

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

 

Repenting is obedience, turning away from your sin and disobedience and turning towards God.

 

4.      REDISCOVER YOUR FIRST LOVE

 

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

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.

 

Some of us here who’ve been Christians for a long time need to rediscover our first love. Remember that feeling you have when you first fall in love with someone… that’s what we often lack. We go on in Christ, we grow, we mature, we get older, we learn and understand but many times we lose the love, the excitement, the joy we once had. If that is you today, the solution is simple… losing your first love is sin, and you must repent!

 

Rediscovering your first love means remembering what it was like, and reestablishing that first love.

 

5.      REENGAGE WITH GOD

 

The Lord promises us in James,

 

James 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

 

However, many times we as Christian go through the religious motions, just like Saul did. We do some religious duty and think that God is pleased. He doesn’t want your sacrifice, He wants your obedience, and your heart!

 

Isaiah 29:13 (ESV Strong's)

And the Lord said:

“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips,

while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

 

We can draw near with just our mouths. We can go to church, call ourselves a Christian, listen to SALT or obey a bunch of rules taught by men, but the heart of God is that we draw near in our spirits, which involves all of us reengaging with God.

 

Having quiet times, reading the Word, praying constantly, coming to church, these are all ways that help us reengage our spirits with the Lord. Why go through the motions of being a Christian when you can be full on for Jesus and change the world? David wrote…

 

Psalms 63:1 (ESV Strong's)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

Do you long for God like that? You should, because that is how you discover your destiny!

 

6.      RECOMMIT TO OBEDIENCE

 

Moving into your destiny starts with seeing yourself as worthwhile, as precious to the Lord, and someone of value. However it is not enough to simply acknowledge that you are worthwhile.

 

I said before that destiny is a series of decisions, and these decisions involve you being obedient. When you sense God leading you, that you do not resist but rather obey and trust Him. That is how you move into the greatest destiny you could imagine.

 

Exodus 19:5 (ESV Strong's)

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;

 

Ignite church is a safe place for you to start being obedient to the Lord. That’s why we have 201, so you can see opportunities to invest that precious life of yours in something powerful Thayer yields fruit for eternity.

 

7.      RESPOND TO HIM TODAY

 

Today the Lord has His arms outstretched to you, calling you to be devoted to Him, and to trust Him with your life and future. Today He is asking you to see beyond the reflection in the mirror and trust Him to lead you into your destiny.

 

Today He is promising you that whatever you think about yourself, however you see yourself, You are valuable and precious to Him. You are so precious He sacrifices His only Son for you, and He has beautiful, wonderful plans for you.

 

Remember that $10 note? We agreed that it is worth $10 only because our government says it is, and they created that note.

 

What if I chew it and spit it out? $10?  What if I stamp on it and walk all over it? $10. What if I cover it in dirt and grime? Still $10.

 

Today some of you have been chewed up and spat out by life, rejected and walked all over by others, or sullied your life with sin and disobedience. I don’t care what you’ve been through, I don’t care if you’ve been divorced or into drugs or caught in adultery. I don’t care if they say you have a low IQ, a low self esteem or a low net worth.

 

Jesus sees your value, Jesus sees you as worthwhile, precious and He has a destiny for you. You must decide to walk with Him, or without Him. You are valuable when you come to Jesus, so I’m going to ask you to do that right now… Start seeing yourself as He sees you, and start living like He wants you to…

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Me in the Mirror 1- What Image in the Mirror Do You See?

June 10, 2018

When you look into the mirror, who is it you see looking back at you? Is that person the real you, or do you somehow distort or even enhance that person? What I would like to do in this series is look at perception, at the way you see yourself and ask the big question…

 

Do I like what I see? Do I see myself in a true light? What or who am I reflecting?

 

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 

Ok, we cannot truly see what the Lord wants us to see in ourselves, and we will not know fully until we get to heaven, but we can by faith begin to see things in our lives the way God see, and begin to reflect Him in our lives, not our selfish, self centred, self glorifying selves!

 

So as I share this message, I want you to imagine you are holding a clock up to a mirror...

 In other words, it’s time for reflection!

 

PERCEPTION- WHAT YOU SEE ISN’T WHAT YOU GET

 

As a Behavioural Optometrist, I specialise in visual perception. The thing is, having 20/20 vision really means very little. Sure, you need to see, but just because you physically have the capacity to see something doesn’t mean you understand what you see.

 

Many things in life actually distort or affect what we perceive, especially when I comes to ourselves.

Lenses or glasses can shape your view of the world, but mirrors can likewise distort your view of yourself.

 

The devil does not want you to see yourself properly, he doesn’t want you to see yourself how God sees you. He also doesn’t want you to reflect the image of Jesus Christ, so he does his best to mess up how you see yourself, and who it is your life reflects!

 

The purpose of this series is to gain a true reflection of ourselves, undistorted by anything that is not of God!  Let’s let His Spirit guide us into truth. That’s why God’s Word says,

 

John 16:13 (ESV Strong’s)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak,

 

So what things distort our reflection in the mirror? What changes how we see ourselves?

 

1.      DISTORTED BY DIRT AND GRIME

 

If a mirror is dirty, you cannot clearly see the image in the surface. It does not mean that the mirror doesn’t work, but rather that the mirror is covered in a substance that is not reflective.

 

Going through your life, you can pick up dirt and grime, which we call sin. Sin separates you from God, covers up the true reflection of yourself, and covers any chance you have of reflecting Jesus to the world. If you constantly live in sin, the dirt and grime builds up until you cannot see God, you are not close to Him and you cannot be the person God wants you to be…

 

Isaiah 59:2 (ESV Strong's)

but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,

and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

 

The Hebrew word for hidden is satar, which literally means covered or concealed. A layer of grime or sin conceals the true reflection, and if it is  thick enough or deep enough you cannot see anything!

 

1 John 1:5-7 (ESV Strong's)

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

God is light, and if you are disobedient and wilfully sinning, or tolerate sin in your life, you are misting the mirror, and the light cannot reflect properly off the surface.

 

The Greek word for cleanses is katharizo, which means to purify, wash, to scrub clean.

 

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.

 

Harbouring sin in your life, even a hidden sin, tolerating it instead of confessing it covers over the true image you should be. If you are tolerating sin, it’s time to confess it, and allow the blood of Jesus to wash your life clean!

 

2.      DISTORTED BY THE PAST

 

If a mirror gets old, the inner surface of silver nitrate often breaks down, and gets scratchy, and this distorts the image on the front. This is not dirt on the outside, the inner layer is breaking down!

 

So many people including Christians allow their past to distort what they reflect in the present. It might have been words spoken to you, situations you have been through, your upbringing, your fears, your pain. But God says this…

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV-WS)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

The Lord is saying, “Stop dwelling on past failures! Don’t you get it… I’m doing a new thing!”it’s time to make the past past at last.

 

When the past quarrels with the present, there can be no future. We all need to learn from our past. But we must also stop living in the past, or letting past failures control us, and move on to God’s new assignments and goals. Spiritual renewal involves letting go of the past so that we can take hold of what is in the present and redirect our course toward a new life for the future.

 

 

If you had a difficult upbringing, a troubled relationship with your mum or dad, then today is the day you give that to the Lord and let Him carry that burden, not you. If you have something in your past you’re ashamed of, something you still feel guilty for, it’s is time to hand it over to Jesus, not carry the load yourself.

 

So if you have had a divorce or separation, if you’ve been abused or controlled, if you’ve done something you just hate yourself for doing, today is the day to hand it over to Jesus, and let it stop affecting how you see yourself.

 

3.      DISTORTED BY BEING SHATTERED

 

If you drop a hand mirror, any mirror, they don’t bounce too well. They shatter, and you allegedly get 7 years bad luck and a distorted, fractured image.

 

In the same way, hurt and pain that has affected your life, that has damaged or even shattered your life, destroys the image in your mirror. Pain affects how you see yourself, so whether it’s physical pain from sickness or disease, or emotional pain from someone betraying you or letting you down, pain affects how you see and value yourself, and how you reflect God.

 

It also affects people around you, because hurt people hurt people. You don’t mean to be like this, but that hurt inside you causes you to lash out and hurt the ones you love.

 

But the Bible says this…

 

Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Are you crushed today, are you shattered today? How long have you carried that pain deep inside you? God loves you, God can heal that pain and today, He is willing if you will trust Him. Don’t let bitterness ruin how you see yourself or how you reflect Christ.

 

Hebrews 12:15 (ESV Strong's)

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled

 

If you have been hurt and you haven’t given it over to God, which involves forgiving other people, then it is like drinking poison hoping the other guys dies! Holding onto hurt shatters the image of God in you, and distorts how you see yourself. Today is the day to forgive and give your hurt to God.

 

Forgiving someone who hurt you dies not legitimise or condone what they did, it simply releases the hold they have on you, and set you free to see yourself as God sees you!

 

4.      DISTORTED BY SURROUNDING REFLECTIONS

 

The image in a mirror can be affected by external things surrounding the mirror, such as reflections, lights or other images.

 

In the same way your image of yourself can be affected, even destroyed but the opinions of others.

 

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me!” Is not true.

 

James 3:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

 

Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone else’s inability to see your worth.

 

If you have had someone speaking negative words over your life, whether now or sometime in the past, you need to recognise that someone else’s opinion is just that. Opinions are like noses… everybody has one, and most of them smell!

 

Don’t let your image of who you truly are be distorted or sometimes even destroyed by the word of others. Their words only have power if you let them, if you give them permission to affect your life.

 

Proverbs 15:4 (NIV-WS)

 

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

 

In the Message Bible it says this…

Proverbs 15:4 (MSG)

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.

 

If someone has or is speaking negatives over your life, today is the day we break those curses and they fall to the ground dead, lifeless and powerless. Some of you will need prayer to break this power, but it can and indeed must be done for you to begin to see the image of yourself correctly.

 

Proverbs 26:2 (ESV Strong's)

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,

a curse that is causeless does not alight.

 

5.      DISTORTED BY UNEVEN LAYERING

 

If a mirror has uneven layers of silver nitrate, thin spots appear and these are not as reflective. This can cause distortions or warping in the image. In the same way if our relationship with God is patchy, if we only connect with Him once a week at church, if we skip services or skip quiet times, we will not reflect the Lord the way we should, and this will affect even how we view ourselves.

 

James 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

God longs to be close to you, and all it takes is your saying yes, I want to spend time with you, Lord.  Spending time every day with the Lord, reading His Word and praying, causes layer upon layer to be painted on the glass, and this makes you more and more reflective, more and more like Jesus!

 

WHOSE IMAGE DO YOU REFLECT?

 

The thing is, mirrors do not create images, they reflect them. They can be distorted by sin, pain, your past, the words of others and stepping away from God. When you look in the mirror, do you see the real you? Do you see the person you are destined to be? Do you see Jesus reflected in your life.

 

Romans 8:29 (ESV Strong's)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 

God has a plan for your life, and His plan is that you reflect His Son! As you read His Word , as you pray, as you surrender your life to His will, and His care, as you give Him your burdens, you will reflect Jesus, and your life will move into His destiny for you!

 

A mirror differs from a pane of glass in that it is painted by several layers of silver nitrate. But where does refined silver come from? It is not mined as pure silver, but dug out of the ground…

 

Psalms 66:10 (ESV Strong's)

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

 

Let me finish by taking you through the ancient process of refining silver, and in this is a great lesson for all of us who want to be true mirrors, seeing ourselves as a reflection of Christ…

 

As people, we want a great life, we want to be success, we want a great family, people who love us, we want health, wealth, wisdom and blessing. That’s what we want from God, isn’t it? It’s what we pray for, work for and believe for. But the fact is, many of us face tests, trials and hardship.

 

So instead of blaming God for not giving you what you ordered Him to bless you with, why not step back and see things from His point of view, His Holy perspective?

 

God tests every believer, both to reveal the character of his or her heart and to lead him or her into a deeper relationship with Himself. We tend to learn more in the valley than on the mountaintop.

 

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

 

God refines us with the trials, tests and hardships of life, because He wants us to be refined and pure. So what was the process of refining silver in Biblical times?

 

Stage I: The Breaking —The refiner breaks up the natural ore.

 

In biblical times, a refiner began by breaking up rough ore—hardened rock encased with common minerals such as tin, copper, and zinc. But sometimes, somewhere in that rock was precious metals like silver. He has to break the rock to expose the metals to heat.

 

Jeremiah 23:29 (ESV Strong's)

Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

 

Perhaps you feel broken today, maybe shattered by a family breakup or a business collapse. If you have been broken you are ready for the next step in refinement…

 

Stage II: The Crucible —The refiner places unrefined silver into a crucible.

 

The crucible is a special metal pot able to withstand extreme heat. The refiner then places the crucible into the furnace at the precise temperature which separates the metals.

 

Proverbs 17:3 (ESV Strong's)

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

 

Stage III: The Dross —The refiner places the crucible in the heated furnace to remove dross.

 

As the ore melts in the crucible under the watchful eye of the refiner, a layer of impurities called “dross” eventually bubbles to the top and forms on the surface.

 

Proverbs 25:4 (ESV Strong's)

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel;

 

For us individually, dross represents any sin mixed into our life—any wrong motive, wrong attitude, wrong action, and unforgiveness, unrepentance, or disobedience—anything that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be.

 

Stage IV: The Heat —The refiner raises the temperature again and again.

 

The refiner painstakingly skims off the dross or impurities. Then he then turns up the heat and places the crucible back into the furnace, skimming off more dross each time.  Ancient literature tells us he does this up to 7 times. He knows that only certain impurities are released at certain temperatures.

 

Psalms 12:6 (ESV Strong's)

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

 

This process continues and each time the silver is more and more refined. In your life you may find yourself facing trial after trial, pain after pain, and wonder why your testing seems endless. Yet each time a little more dross, a little more impurity is removed. Multiple trials are often necessary to clean out the dross.

 

So when does the refiner know that the process is complete?

 

 Stage V: The Reflection —The refiner sees a clear image of himself.

 

The refiner knows the process is complete, and you need to get this, when he looks into the crucible as sees his reflection clearly.

 

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

 

When the refiner looks at your life, does He see His own image reflected back? When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see the Master reflected in your image?

 

Today is the day we start refining your life. Today is the day we clean out those words spoken over you, the times you were told you’re useless and will amount to nothing. Today is the day we begin to  break their power, we forget the things past and we press on towards the future God has for you.

 

If you’ve had something in your past that you are ashamed of, or have had negative or hurtful words spoken over your life, even if they were said in jest, let’s start freeing you right now. Let’s stop this distortion of your image in the mirror, and let’s start reflecting Jesus.

 

Some years ago I was told by another pastor still on the Coast that I would never be a leader, never be a pastor and never have an impact for God. I knew immediately when said that he was wrong, so Fiona and I took that to the Lord, prayed it through and committed ourselves to follow Him into our destinies. I still meet this guy at pastor’s meetings. He doesn’t talk to me, and I don’t care… his words have no power over me! I don’t have to fight him, because God has vindicated me!

 

If words have been spoken over you in the past, distorting the image of the refiner in your life, stand up.

 

Proverbs 26:2 (ESV Strong's)

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,

a curse that is causeless does not alight.

 

Also, if you have resented the tests that have allowed the Lord to refine your life, it is time to repent and rejoice in the character He is building as He makes you into the image of His Son.

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Ps Fred Bartolo- Forward Movement

June 5, 2018

Pastor Fred Bartolo brings this great message of forward movement, and everyone in the room was excited.  Ps Fred is a funny and entertaining preacher and deeply affected the lives of many at Ignite by encouraging them forward in their healing, their walk with God and their Christian faith.

So Who is Pastor Fred Bartolo?

Pastor Fred Bartolo and his wife Mary have very different backgrounds.  Fred is an ex-Rugby League player who often found himself in trouble with the law , while his beautiful bride Mary lived in Brazil serving as a Catholic nun.  Both had a personal encounter with The Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as their Lord and Saviour at around the same time, but in different countries and under radically different circumstances!

They eventually met in Malta and got married the following year, being ordained as pastors in 1993.

Since then Fred Bartolo has served within Australia, but also around the world, notably planting fourteen churches in Chile and establishing outreaching church plants to several other South American countries. including Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Columbia, and Venezuela, as well as in their home country of Malta.

Fred Bartolo is now an elder of Ignite Christian Church, and has a well recognised and beloved itinerate ministry throughout Australia.  We clelbrate his powerful ministry, and the wonderful effect both he and Mary have had in all of our lives here at Ignite, and we are excited about the future and what the Lord is doing in and through this dynamic couple!

This message is one not to be missed!

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Choices 5- The Dance of Doubt and Fear

May 27, 2018

I want to wrap up our series on making right and godly choices by addressing something we all face, every one of us, even if we have made the right choice, and that is doubt.

 

SHALL WE DANCE?

 

Second guessing the choices we make is commonplace for human beings, and the Bible likens it to dancing. We are not God, so we do not have infinite knowledge, understanding and faith. As a believer, how many times have you made a decision, then felt this nagging doubt creep up on you, questioning whether you made the right choice, whether it is God’s will, and if it is, will He even be faithful to you, and are you even worth it?

 

Doubts are normal, but it does not make them right, because they are based in fear and unbelief.  We might dress it up and call it different names, but it is doubt just the same.

 

When you agree to buy something big, like a car or house, then on second thoughts you wonder if it was such a good buy, we call it “buyer’s remorse”. If a bride leaves the groom alone at the altar it is called “getting cold feet”. If we commit to something in church then pull out we call it “I just didn’t feel a peace in my spirit”, but all of these are purely and simply just doubt.

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat in the storm and walked on the water, and he did well until he stopped, rationalised and looked around and panicked!

 

Matthew 14:31 (ESV Strong's)

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

The Greek word Jesus uses here for doubt is “distazo”, which literally means, “to doubt or to mentally waver.”

 

A similar Hebrew word is used by Elijah to the Israelites when taking in the prophets of Baal...

 

1 Kings 18:21 (ESV Strong's)

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

 

That word limping in Hebrew is “pasah”, which means “to hop, to limp, to waver or to dance.” What a brilliant description of doubt, where we make a decision and then find ourselves dancing between two opinions, hopping from one foot to the other.

 

We would like our choices to be right, godly, strong and decisive, yet often, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves weak, insipid and flipping between doubt and faith.

 

So let’s analyse our thought process around the doubts that assail us after we have actually made a decision…

 

 

DANCE STEPS- THE FEAR AND DOUBT TWO STEP!

 

You’ve made a decision, and it’s a good decision. You know it’s right, you know it’s good and you know it’s God, but there’s that nagging doubt. Welcome to the Fear and Doubt Two Step… Shall we dance?   Let me take you through the steps....

 

1.      RELIANCE

 

You started with reliance. You make a decision, you trust God, you have faith in the God who says He has plans for your life, to prosper you and not to harm you. You make a decision, take a leap of faith and trust God, believing that…

 

Psalms 27:1 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

However, the devil is not happy about your making a positive decision, and so he starts to subtly undermine the process…

 

2.      RESTLESSNESS

 

So the decision has been made, but there is a restlessness.

 

James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The Greek word for driven and tossed “rhipizo” which means “to agitate or stir up.” It is used to refer to fanning an ember into a flame, and so the doubts are stirred up like that, like wind whipping up the ocean, starting small but agitating into full blown faithlessness.

 

3.      RECONSIDER

 

This uneasy, restless feeling causes you to reconsider. Like Peter, you look at your surroundings, at the circumstances, listen to the opinions of others and you begin to reconsider your initial decision…

 

Matthew 14:30 (ESV Strong's)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

 

How many of us make a decision, then get swayed by circumstances into reconsidering our choice?

 

4.      RATIONALISE

 

As you reconsider the situation, you start to rationalise. You start to think things through in a different way. One phrase we often use in English for this particular dance step is that we start to “entertain doubts.”

 

What a curious but revealing phrase. We don’t look at doubt and reject it, we don’t slam the door in doubt’s face, we entertain it. We say, “Come on in, Mr Doubt, have a seat. Can I get you a coffee? Why not stay for dinner? In fact, why not move in?”

 

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

When we lean on our own understanding instead of trusting God, we rationalise our doubts and excuse them as inspired logic, and then we are not trusting God for that decision.

 

5.      RUN

 

The next phase is panic… we want to cut and run, run like crazy to get away from impending disaster that our rationalise mind convinces us is imminent.

 

But the Bible says, in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Paul tells us,

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

When you reach the point of panic, you have anything but a sound mind. Panicked people make irrational decisions, and most decisions made in the heat of the moment are bad ones. This leads to the next step...

 

6.      REQUESTING HELP

 

Like Peter sinking in the waves we cry out, “Lord, save me!” In our panic, in our fear, in our entertained doubts, we look for salvation. We search for a way out, and if we are wise, we turn to the Lord again… and He says…

 

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV Strong's)

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

GOD CAN DEAL WITH YOUR DOUBTS

 

God is big enough to deal with your doubts… of that there is no doubt! He doesn’t want pretence and bravado from you, He wants honesty. If you make a decision and you doubt, don’t try and hide as many Christians do behind the bravado of false hyper-faith… where we never face our fears and doubts, we just positively confess them away. People who do this often have little faith despite their brave and sometime foolish positive confession. If you are trying to convince yourself to have faith, your faith is not in the immutable, infallible and incredibly powerful God we serve, but in yourself. That’s not real faith, folks, and trying to muster it doesn’t work long term.

 

When I think of faith and doubt I always consider Abraham…

 

Abraham is described as the Father of Faith. When God told him he would have a son, he didn’t stick his head in the sand and positively confess. No, the Bible says he looked at the facts, he recognised the impossibility, but because God had told him…

 

Romans 4:20-21 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

He didn’t waver, he refused to dance with the devil, he looked at the facts and recognised that his body was as good as dead at 100 years old.  He was rational, he was logical, he stared Doubt straight in the face, but then he said, despite all this, “My God is bigger than you!”

 

Don’t ignore or gloss over your doubts. Don’t try and fake or muster enough faith in yourself… look to Jesus, feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death!

 

Let’s look at someone else you struggled with their faith…

 

GIDEON WAS FEELING GIDDY

 

Gideon is another great hero of faith as a warrior and a judge in Israel. He is often held up as a model of decision making, but he is not at all! He’s actually an example of God loving us through our doubts and fears. Gideon was one of those guys who danced between faith and doubt constantly.

 

Some Christians try to determine God’s will by “throwing fleeces” as Gideon did in Judges 6. You might remember that Gideon was visited by an angel and he was threshing wheat in a cistern, for fear of the oppressive Midianite regime. The angel then called him mighty man of God, but he replied that he was the least in his tribe, which was the least tribe in Israel. Clearly this guy had doubts and very little faith!

 

Then came the fleece throwing thing…

 

Judges 6:37 (ESV Strong's)

behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.”

 

This happened, but he still was not sure. So he laid a second fleece…

 

Judges 6:39 (ESV Strong's)

Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.”

 

He was testing and testing God, but God knew his doubts and loved him enough to allay his fears.

 

Some Christians say, “If X happens, then I’ll do one thing; but if Y happens, then I’ll do another.” This is a terrible way to make decisions and is little different from heads or tails! It’s spiritual two up!  In most cases, putting out a fleece demonstrates not a robust faith in God, or a willingness to truly know and obey His will, but an unhealthy suspicion that God does not have our best interests at heart and He really can’t be trusted to fulfil His promises.

 

GIDEON WAS FLEECED!

 

God recognised that Gideon was a man of doubt and fear, but God loves him enough to tolerate the fleece throwing situation not once but twice. God did it to allow his faith build for the future.

 

Note this:

 

  1. This is the only place in Scripture where this method is used
  2. Fleece throwing was Gideon’s idea, not God’s! Nowhere in the Bible does God authorise this practice or recommend it for knowing His will.
  3. Gideon knew God’s will at the start… he had had an angelic visit and a direct Word from God. He was not trying to make a decision, he was doubting God, and he did this twice to gain confidence for the battle ahead. He needed an extraordinary sign to build his faith.

 

I’m sure God would have preferred Gideon to have faith like Job, who despite all the circumstances going against him, he trusted the Lord with a strong and deep faith, a faith that said,

 

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

 

HOW DO WE STOP THE DANCE?

 

I know many of you have made deep and life changing decisions in this series of messages. But I also know that many of you have doubts, second thoughts and cold feet about the decisions you’ve made. Today is the day you stop the dance of doubt and make 100% sure of your choices and decisions.

 

You might have decided to become a Christian but then that voice whispers in your head, “You’re not good enough for that. God doesn’t want people like you.” Don’t listen to that voice, and don’t doubt, because God’s Word says,

 

John 5:24 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

 

You might have made a big decision to get rid of a bad habit, or to make a positive change in your life. You might have made. Life changing choice but are doubting whether you can stick to it. We are here to love and support you, and together make that great decision stick for eternity!

 

You might have decided to come here to check out this church. You like what you see, but there’s that nagging doubt in your head. You might feel guilty that you want to leave another church. You may feel fearful because you don’t know where you can fit in.  Let me allay your fears and doubts…

 

Ignite Church is called to be a safe haven, a spiritual home where my desire as a pastor and the desire of our ministry teams is to see you become everything you could possibly be in the Lord. My heart is to train and equip and then release you to become a mighty man or woman of God. I won’t force you to do things you don’t want to do, but as God loved Gideon and gently helped him into faith and belief, so our commitment here is not to condemn you but to love and build your faith too.

 

So let me finish with ways can you deal with the dance of doubt and stop second guessing  decisions?

 

1.      BE SURE OF YOUR DECISION IN THE FIRST PLACE

 

Making the right choice, God’s choice for your life, is not always easy. As we’ve discussed previously, there are several tools you can employ as checks and balances  to make sure you are choosing correctly…

 

1.      CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Psalms 25:4 (ESV Strong's)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

 

Sometimes circumstances open up and just show you God’s will in a choice, revealing the obvious and logical pathway to doing it. Sometimes God’s ways are obvious, but beware because this method is often not reliable. Just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it is necessarily God!

 

2.      THE STILL, SMALL VOICE

 

We talked about the voices in your head a few weeks ago (check the app). Many time you can hear God’s voice if you know what He sounds like. I’m going to do a series coming up on hearing God’s voice, and Fiona has a course starting in July on hearing God’s voice.

 

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV-WS)

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

 

3.      GODLY COUNSEL

 

When facing a decision, getting good advice and counsel from godly people can give you real insight. Not your mates at the pub or your Facebook friends, people at church you respect. I make all decisions in Ignite church consulting not one but many team members and leaders…

 

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV Strong's)

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.

 

4.      SUPERNATURAL

 

Sometimes, albeit rarely, God will lead you supernaturally, with a dream, a vision or an prophetic word. Never rely on this method alone, it is fraught with danger. Gideon met and angel, Pete saw a vision and prophets throughout the Bible spoke God’s words…

 

Haggai 1:12 (ESV Strong's)

… all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.

 

In our church, prophetic words are common, and much of the prayer at the front is prophetic, but these words should reinforce what God is saying, not be the only source of guidance!

 

5.      GOD’S WORD

 

For me, the ultimate voice of God in my life is His Word. God will never contradict His written Word, and as I spend time with Him each day His Word comes alive, leading, guiding and lighting my path...

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

So use a combination of those methods we’ve discussed to be absolutely sure of God’s direction when you make a choice or decision, especially a big one like changing jobs, Church or residency.

 

2.      BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR DOUBTS

 

Some Christians are always trying to generate faith. I’m sick of Christians faking faith trying to generate enough faith to get what they want. Listen, if your will lines up with God’s will, faith is a lot easier. God’s not here to give you what you want. He is not your personal genie in a bottle. When you align yourself with Him, you don’t have to try to fake it, because you know that you know that you know God’s will in your choices. Seek first His Kingdom, and guess what happens!

 

God is not fooled by your false bravado! We all experience doubt, so please be honest, be open, and just as God loved Gideon, Thomas and others through their doubts into faith, He will love you too!

 

Think of the father whose child was demon possessed…

 

Mark 9:24 (ESV Strong's)

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

This is a classic statement of the paradox Christians face in making godly choices… they believe, but still struggle with unbelief. They trust, but still can’t seem to trust enough. This desperate father wanted to believe, his heart said yes but his head said no! He was dancing with doubts.

 

And some of you here are just like that. Heart says yes, but head says no. You’ve come to this church thinking your dreams are dead, they’ve gone, they’re finished. You can feel God awakening those dreams, you can sense that something is stirring, you even begin to believe and make the choice to follow God into what He has for you. But then you doubt, you second guess yourself, your heart cries yes but your head tries to logic you out of it! You believe, but cry “Help my unbelief!”

 

3.      ANSWER YOUR DOUBTS WITH FAITH

 

Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there! The answer to the dance of doubt, the second guesses, the fake hyper-faith and cerebral logic, is to build your holy faith…

 

Jude 1:20 (ESV Strong's)

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,

 

Praying in the Holy Spirit builds your faith, that’s why God gave us that gift. Reading God’s Word, studying it and memorising it, build your faith, that’s why God have us His Word.

 

Faith is directly dependent on how well you know somebody.

 

If Fiona asks me for $100, there’s no problem. I know her, I know she won’t blow it on alcohol or drugs. However, if some random guy in the street asks me for $100, the answer is “no way!” If I don’t know him, I can’t trust him. You get to know God and rely up and trust God by reading His Word and praying. When you know Him, your trust deepens and you stop second guessing!

 

Psalms 37:4-6 (ESV Strong's)

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

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

 

Today I want to pray for those struggling with doubt and fear. Today, faith will answer the door, and there will be no doubt there. No doubt, no fear, no second guessing, no anxiousness.

 

If you, like me, make decisions and then second guess yourself, if you decide then doubt, the Lord is calling you to respond today. Don’t stand there arguing with Him, if He is challenging you come forward and we will pray that doubt, fear and second guesses with be replaced by genuine, God centred, powerful , life transforming faith. Look out mountains, you’re about to be moved!

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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.

 

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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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