Shaped for the Future

November 21, 2017

One of the things I notice when you’re as old as I am is that no one asks me what I want to be when I grow up. When you get on in years, people judge you on what you’ve actually achieved, not on what you want to do in the future.


Kids, on the other hand, are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. A fireman, a doctor, a pastor, the great thing about being young is that there are so many options, so much potential in your life.


If you have a dream of doing something great. Something really significant in your life, you will not achieve this just by thinking about it.




Destiny is often spoken about in hushed tones, and concepts like karma try to tell us that destiny is something that the universe inflicts upon you. But the Bible is quite different. It teaches us that destiny is not something external inflicted upon you, but rather it is the result of a series of choices…


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,


To every choice we make, there are consequences, either good or bad, and the tricky thing is that sometimes these consequences take a while to manifest themselves. Our nation is about to find this out. On the back of completely biased and one sided media campaigns they made a decision, and I reckon in about 10 years time you will see the fruit of that decision in our children. God says to choose life, and says that you and your seed, your descendants will reap the fruit.


But when you are young, you have an infinite range of choices before you. Many of you have a dream of what you would like to become in your life, and like everyone else, whether your  dream comes true is not about the family you’re from, the upbringing you have or the about of money mum and dad make, it’s about your choices.


When you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, I don’t know many kids who’s great desire in life is to become a drug addict, or a prostitute, or a homeless person. Yet some do become those things. Why? It’s all down to the choices we make.





My granddaughter Kayleigh loves playing with Playdoh, and truth be known, so do I.  There is something really cool about taking that slimy, nondescript goo and making something that has purpose and meaning… like a dog, or a bird, or a car.


And in some ways, God looks at us like that, especially when we are young.  He can take us as an unformed, slightly gooey mess and make us into a masterpiece!  Back in Bible days, they didn’t have playdoh, but they did have something even more descriptive of what God wants from our lives…


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.


If we are like clay in the hands of an expert Potter, then He can make us into anything He wants us to be.





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 God looks at you, He doesn’t see you the way you see you.


When we look at ourselves, or at others for that matter, we see the raw, flawed materials.  When we look at each other, or when we stand in front of the mirror, the person looking back seems far from perfect, far from worthy and nowhere near greatness. We are born as sinners, and some of us through our lives have sinned more than others, but all of us are sinners.


But God, when He looks at us, looks through the muck and mire and rubbish and He sees the great things we could become. He looks at a piece of dirt and sees a pot, or a vase or a plate. He has plans for each of our lives. Plans to prosper us, plans to give us a wonderful future, a hope and a destiny. 


You are not a mistake, you are not a failure, and when you are a child it is easier to believe that God has a plan and hope for you than when you are an adult. The great advantage of being grown up is that you know how to mess your life up good and proper!


All of us start in the womb, with unlimited potential.  Look at what David wrote…


Psalms 139:14-16 (ESV Strong's)

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.


Today, even if you feel worthless, overlooked, feel like a mistake or you feel like a failure, God sees the potential in you, and He focuses on His desire to create something beautiful out of your life.


So how are we all like clay pots?






What raw materials does God find to create His masterpiece?  Well, clay is found in the earth, but it is full of rubbish and needs a lot of work before it can be moulded into something wonderful. Let me describe to you what clay is like when it is found…

Clay as it is found in the ground is not suitable for use to make a pot. It is dug out of the ground and brought to the outside of the pottery and allowed to weather for weeks. The dry material is then dumped into a cement-lined tank or wooden trough and covered with water. When the lumps have softened they are stirred in the water until all have disintegrated and a thin slimy mud or "slip" has been formed. Sea water is more effective for this process, so potteries are often close to the ocean.

The slip is drawn off into settling tanks. All stones and lumps are left behind. When the clay has settled, the water is drawn off and the plastic-like material is worked by treading with the feet. The prepared clay is finally packed away and allowed to stand another six months before being used.

The fact is that all of us have lumps and impurities, because all of us have sinned…


Romans 3:10-12 (ESV Strong's)

 “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good, not even one.”


Every single one of us have dirt and mud and stones and are less than perfect, but God is able to take imperfect people like you and me and do something wonderful in our lives. You might have sin, past failures, a bad upbringing, previous abuse or a physical challenge you face, but God sees through that stuff to what you could be. And like the clay, He may put you through a process that is sometimes difficult and painful, but in the end He transforms your life into the material He can use and make great!





To complete this process, God is all kitted out with the right gear. He knows what He is doing, because reshaping and reforming your life needs a professional, not amateur hour. So what does He use?




To extract good clay from your life, God may have to do a bit of digging. He will dig out the rocks and pebbles that must be extracted in order to create material He can use.


When we sin, we usually feel so ashamed that we cover it over, just as Adam and Eve covered themselves in fig leaves when they recognised their sin. In our shame we cover our sin, hoping no one finds out, but the problem is that the sin then festers under the surface and productise toxins that poison our lives.


Psalms 38:18 (NIV-WS)

I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.


We would all recognise that the only way to remove sin and impurities from our lives is to fess up, face the sin and deal with it. Sin causes pain, and unless you deal with it, it will continue to cause pain in increasing amounts.


God loves you so much that His Son died for your sin. Jesus came a took the penalty for your sin, not because you deserve mercy, but because in His love and grace He gives you mercy. He loves you so much, He died for you. But He also loves you so much, He doesn’t leave you that way, He extracts the sin and pain and purifies your life.


We try and cover sin up, but God says to you today, “Don’t cover up your sin, confess it, and let Me cover it over with my grace and forgiveness.”




The next process in refining the clay needs a mallet. Once the clay is dug out, it needs to be pounded. How many of you adults know there are times when life seems to pound you. Things go wrong, your decisions have bad consequences, people let you down and you feel like you are just being pounded on all sides!


Listen to what the apostle Paul thought about the various poundings he got in his life (stonings, shipwrecks, being persecuted and left for dead, etc.)


2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV-WS)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


I know poundings hurt, I know some of you are hurt and discouraged, but please do yourself a favour and take your eyes off the hurt and pain and set them on Jesus, who loves you and died for you, because then you will begin to see reasons for the pounding in the light of eternity.




A potter uses a potter’s wheel, and the clay is placed on the wheel and spun. The instrument consists of 2 wheels made of stone, connected by a shaft. The potter spins the lower wheel with his feet, and the upper wheel spins with it, and then he is able to mould and shape the spinning clay.


Sometimes we feel like we are running on a wheel, like a little mouse. The problem with being in the rat race is that, even if you win, you’re still a rat! Sometimes we feel like we are spinning around and around, spinning our wheels, using lots of energy and getting nowhere in life.


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.


As we spin around and around, God uses all things, even the sucky ones, to mould and shape our lives. And if we don’t learn the lesson, we get to go around and around forever. My advice is, learn what God wants you to learn early, nimble it and move on.






Kids , when you are young you have your whole life ahead of you, but once you are an adult, you can look back on your life and realise that you have made plenty of mistakes. Wrong decisions, wrong choices, wrong relationships. And how many of you know, the Biblical principles of reaping and sowing apply to bad choices as much as to good.


Adults have generally lived a bit, loved and lost a bit, sinned a lot and have frequently messed up their lives, sometimes royally!  Maybe you’ve had the wrong relationships, done the wrong things, upset people who love you or missed countless opportunities you should have taken.


Look, we’ve all blown it at some stage. But here’s the great news… look at what Jeremiah wrote about when he visited the potter’s house…


Jeremiah 18:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.


God is the potter, and we are the clay. If we try and take over our own lives, if we try to live life our way, if we make mistakes, even huge mistakes that seem to completely ruin our future, God can rework us.


It depends not on the clay, bu on he intentions of the potter.  In the hands of the Master potter, even if the clay is marred, it is never wasted. No matter how many critical mistakes you have made, no matter how much sin you have indulged in, no matter how big a screw up you have made of your life, you are never beyond the care and reshaping power of the Master potter.


God is in the business of remoulding lives, taking that which has been overlooked and discarded and making something beautiful of it.


Isaiah 61:3 (NIV-WS)

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.


Some of you here are mourning. For some of you, your life is just a pile of ashes. Some of you are even in despair. But God see the beauty in you, even if the person you look at in the mirror is flawed. No matter how old you are, no matter how marred you are, God looks at the clay and mess of your life and can make something beautiful out of it.




The final step in the creation of a pot is to place it in the fire. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of the fires of adversity making me complete does not fill me with joy. But God uses the tough times in life to bake our pots and make us harder, stronger, more beautiful.


But, in all of this process, you have to trust Him. You cannot dictate terms to God. Frankly, I am sick of people telling God what He needs to do for them, instead of trusting Him and letting the Master shape your life.


Romans 9:20-21 (ESV Strong's)

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?


God is not your performing dog. He is not here to make your life happy, pleasant and comfortable. What he wants is to make your life amazing, powerful and world changing, even if it takes some pain along the way. He longs to make your life valuable, make your life influential. He can mould and shape you into anything. Maybe humble and unseen, maybe into a person who will change nations.


The question is not can God make you into somebody special, it is, “Are you ready to trust Him?”


I mean, if you’ve been living your life your way, stop right now and have a look at how things are working out for you.  Are you happy with every aspect of your life? Do you think that, if you give your heart completely to God right now, that He could do a better job, that He could create more with your life than you’ve managed to?


Kids, are you ready to trust the Lord for your entire future. Are you ready to ask Him in and let Him lead and guide you into what He has for you?





Let me finish with a beautiful illustration from missionary Amy Carmichael, who was serving in India for many years in the early part of last century. If you want your future to be everything it possibly can be, let me assure you kids, you cannot do it yourself. Plenty of us adults have tried, but it is the height of foolishness to take your pot from the Master thinking you can do better.  Listen to this…


This is the story of one who, watching a potter, thought that he could make a pot on the wheel, and tried, but failed:


Then the potter said, "sit down, you can make a pot." "That I cannot do, as you see by what I have already done," 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.


But the potter said, "Look on your hands; there is clay on your fingers, so they touched the clay, and there is nothing on my hand. Whose hand touches the vessel, that hand makes the pot," the potter said and smiled.


May the God of peace…


Hebrews 13:21 (ESV Strong's)

equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


The first step towards letting God create an amazing life for you is asking Him into your life as Lord and Saviour. He knows you’ve sinned, and while we were still sinners, He died for us, so if you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, let’s do that right now.


The Bible says,


2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


No matter what you’ve done in your life, today is the day of salvation. He will never throw you away, but when you ask Him into your life, the old life, with all its sin, guilt, disappointments and worries, passes away.


If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, today is the day you can become a new creation. Let’s pray!



But the second step is this, place yourself in His hands. With no restrictions, no agendas and no resistance.  Just trust Him with every aspect of your life and future.


Many of you believers, you say you love God, and you do love Him, but you find it hard to trust Him with your future. I want you to pray this after me and place your hands under His, letting Him mould you and shape you, direct you and provide for you.


Don’t fight Him. He places His hands on yours, but you have to relax, stop trying to direct traffic and let Him direct you.



You, Life, God and a Few Other Important Things- Ps Keith Heale

November 21, 2017

Pastor Keith shares on You, your Life, God and a Few Other Important Things, bringing his humour and fun perspective to many of the big questions of life that we face.  A wonderful message not to be missed...


Lessons from the Lamps 3- Little Compromises

November 6, 2017

We’ve been looking at the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation, and so far we have looked at Ephesus and Smyrna. The next church in our series is at a town called Pergamum.


These three towns were royal cities in Asia Minor, Smyrna was the great commercial center, Ephesus was the great political center, and Pergamum was the great religious center. That’s why Jesus referred to this city as “where Satan’s throne is.”  For Ephesus Jesus addressed losing their first love, Smyrna was about faithfully standing under persecution and today’s Church, Pergamum, is about little compromises and this will speak to all of us, wherever we are on the road with Christ.


Revelation 2:12-17 (ESV Strong's)

 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Antipas was the first martyr in Asia, tradition says he was slowly broiled alive inside a big pot shaped like a brass bull)


But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’




This city was very much a temple city, and Jesus calls it the throne of Satan. It was the headquarters of satanic opposition and a Gentile base for false religions. On the acropolis in Pergamum was a huge, throne-shaped altar to Zeus. In addition, Asklepios, the god of healing, was the god most associated with the town. His snake-like form is still the medical symbol today. The famous medical school connected to his temple mingled medicine with superstition. One prescription called for the worshiper to sleep on the temple floor, allowing snakes to crawl over his body to infuse him with their healing power.


This was an intensely evil and satanic city, and the church at Pergamum was commended for holding fast to their belief in Christ and not denying a Him, even if it meant hardship and poverty like we saw with the Church at Smyrna.


And I wonder, looking at our society today, if we are not living in Satan’s hangout too. Look at the stuff being pushed upon us, look at the pressure to compromise our beliefs in God and the family unit. And you know the scary thing? We Christians are at times like the frog being slowly boiled alived… we get so use to sin and debauchery we think it’s normal!


2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.


Certainly our society, like the city of Pergamum, is blinded, but the fear is that we Christians will be blinded by the enemy also. Now more than ever we must be on our guard, we must be totally loving to others but totally unbending in what we believe is right!




Then Jesus goes in the offensive with this Church in Revelation 2:14, and He doesn’t mince words! He equates their acceptance and tolerance of the Nicolaitan sect, which we think was an early gnostic heresy in the church, with a guy from many years past called Balaam. The result of the Balaam thing was the church permitted the eating of food offered to idols and sexual immorality.


So they stood up for the big things. They made a stand for what was right in a very dark place. But listen, you can make a stand for Christ but still be compromising. So let’s have a look at Balaam, at the sins of this ancient prophet, and see compromise in all its limited power…




Numbers 22… Balak was a Midianite King who was threatened by the presence of the Israelites in their exodus journey. So he summoned a prophet called Balaam and asked Balaam to curse the Israelites. For this he would get riches and honour, and Balaam liked riches and honour!


Now Balaam was a prophet who could definitely hear God. We have people in this church whom I believe definitely hear God in this prophetic way. It takes time for us to connect as leaders and learn to trust them, and some of you here I definitely trust with regards hearing the voice of the Spirit. These prophetic people are given by God to be a blessing to the church and to us as a Church leadership, but frankly sometimes they are not a blessing at all. There is a fine line between using a genuine spiritual gift to bless others, and misusing it to further your own desires, opinions or aims, as we shall see with Balaam.


Now I want to  have a good look at how Balaam acted in this whole situation, because there are some great lessons we can learn about how we react to God’s clear direction, and how we must use our spiritual gifts to serve rather than self serve.


When asked to curse the Israelites, Balaam says he will enquire of the Lord. A good start, don’t you think? But then God says this… and this is pretty clear direction…


Numbers 22:12 (ESV Strong's)

God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”


Now call me crazy but I’d have thought that was pretty definitive. God said no, not maybe, not possibly, but definitely no! Now, notice what Balaam says when he reports back to Balak…


Numbers 22:13 (ESV Strong's)

So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.”


The implication is, “Guys, I’d love to do it, but the Lord won’t let me.” Is that true obedience? Is that absolute trust and love for God, or is he leaving the door ajar here? Remember, partial obedience is total disobedience!




If at first you don’t succeed, sky diving is probably not for you. Some things you just don’t want to persist with, and disobedience is one of them, as Balaam is about to find out!


So Balak sent more princes, higher princes with the same request, but notice Balaam’s answer…


Numbers 22:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold (hint, hint), I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more. So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.”


Now Balaam had already asked God and been given an answer. But he really wanted this, so he thought he’d try again. Maybe he can figure out how to twist God’s arm to get what he wanted!


Strangely God gives permission for him to go, but to strictly say only what God commands. Just a chapter later, Balaam Himself prophesies this…


Numbers 23:19 (ESV Strong's)

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?


Listen, if God tells you no, don’t keep going back asking.  If you want something so bad you’re prepared to keep asking and disobey God, you’re in for a world of heartache! So although God let him get what he wanted, He was super angry at him. And sometimes God is like that… He allows us to reap what we sow and gives us what we want, even though it’s going to cause us pain.


I’ve seen people who want a partner so badly they settle for someone God never wanted them to have, and convince themselves that this is their last shot at happiness. The result? Mostly heartache and pain for years. I’ve seen people who will do anything to get ahead in business, and finish up in jail. If God says no, and you keep asking, often the consequences for your sin is simply that He takes His hands off the wheel and lets you get what you want!


Romans 1:24 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,


The Greek word PARADIDOMY for “gave them up” means to yield, to surrender, to let them have their way. Trust me, in life, you will reap what you so, more than you sow, and later than you sow.




So Balaam heads off, and an angel with a sword is waiting for him. His donkey sees the danger, and tries to save Balaam, but he finishes up beating the ass. Then he has a conversation with his ass, who is not trying to be a pain in the proverbial but is actually more aware of God than the prophet is!


When he sees that death awaits him,  Balaam understands at this point that God is angry, and turns and heads home, right? Wrong! Balaam wants his own way so badly, listen to what he says to God…


Numbers 22:34 (ESV Strong's)

Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”


If it is evil… who is he kidding? Beware if God says no but you persist and get your own way. Balaam was given plenty of opportunities to relent, but he refused, and made an ass of himself! Then in Numbers 23, Balaam pronounces 3 oracles over Israel,  but instead of cursing them he actually blesses them! Balak keeps offering more and more money and honour, but Balaam cannot do what he is asked. This prophet, who had a genuine gift, who could genuinely hear God, used the gift to feather his own nest, to drive his own agenda. For prophetic people, the temptation to use your gift to drive your personal preferences and agenda is very strong. Prophets, learn the difference between your opinion and the genuine voice of God!


So Balaam goes home, Balak is angry and the children of Israel are not cursed. But there’s a twist…




There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and so it is with the persistent and insistent Balaam… he had an evil plan. Look at what happens in the very next chapter…


Numbers 25:1-3 (ESV Strong's)

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.


24,000 Israelites died, because the people compromised themselves sexually and allowed the wrong influence into their lives. But where did this come from? How did Balak suddenly get this alternative strategy for overcoming the Israelites?  I’ll give you one guess…


Numbers 31:16 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.


Balaam wanted the cash, so while God forbade him to curse Israel, he had a more sinister plan. He made his payday because he advised Balak how he could compromise the Israelites, using Moabite prostitutes to lure them into compromising their walk with God and worshipping Baal.


Incidentally, this wasn’t a once off… Balaam continues to be in cohorts with Balak and the Midianites, and was eventually exited with them…


Numbers 31:8 (ESV Strong's)

They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.




And so here we are centuries later in the church at Pergamum, and nothing’s has really changed. Satan is still trying to lure this church into compromising, and is using lust to do it! The same applies to today’s church. I believe it is a message for us also.


There is a difference between taking a stand and compromising… they are not the same thing. Jesus commended this church in verse 13, (ESV Strong's) “Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith” but then zeroes in on their compromising.


 Many fine Christians make a stand on something big, but then compromised in another area. Martin Luther King Jr for example, was a Baptist minister who made a famous and influential stand for civil rights, but he was also a serial adulterer, and the FBI used this to try and discredit him. Aimee Semple Macpherson, a mighty woman of God, prophetess and preacher who started the 4 Square Pentecostal denomination disappeared for nearly 2 week’s, and claimed she was kidnaped. Turned our she had shacked up with a married man. Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, there is a long list of Christian leaders who took a stand in one area yet compromised and were found out in another.


If we in this church take a stand in one area, that doesn’t mean the enemy will not attack and try to get us to compromise in another area. In Balaam’s case, and in Pergamum as well, lust was the point of attack. But lust is not exclusively  about sex…


1 John 2:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.


We can compromise by lusting for things to satisfy our flesh, and this includes sex. In a sex soaked world, with sex splashed across every TV screen and the entire internet, there is a constant temptation to compromise in this area.  Men, if you don’t feel the tug to compromise you are living under a rock! We must be diligently on guard!


But we can also compromise with the lust of the eyes, where we look at things that others have and long for those.  It might be a car or house or job, it might be their husband or wife, it might be their great marriage relationship or it could be their ministry.


And of course, we can compromise in the pride of life. Pride is at the root of all sin, and we most often fail to repent of things we need to repent of because of our pride. Pride gives rise to things like anger, temper, dishonouring others, gossip, and so on.




So beware any teaching that compromises you, even in the small areas where no one else knows you are sinning. Remember, you can make a giant stand for the Lord but still compromise somewhere else. Now please understand, I’m not saying we never sin, because we are all human, and we all compromise and all sin at times.  But we must be aware of the enemy’s schemes and fight hard to never compromise our walk with God, even in hidden or seemingly insignificant ways.


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.”


The little foxes, the little sins, they are the ones we overlook but which the enemy uses to bring our walk with Christ down. And aren’t they cute? Hey Lord, I’m basically a good person and I stand for what is right, I voted “no” in the plebiscite and go to Church one week in three, can’t you just overlook the little compromises?


I’m a good person, I love the Lord, but yes I still have that temper, I still watch the wrong TV shows, I still get envious and wished I had something my friend has, I still gossip just a little, but hey, God I’m a Christian, right?


Listen, 99% faithfulness is by definition unfaithfulness


1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


Let everyone who thinks they don’t have a problems with small compromises beware! No matter where your life or your ministry is at, we all face the same temptations, and we all are at risk of falling. I remember visiting a man who had morally fallen with a pastor friend, and afterward the pastor suggested that he would never be like him. I actually rebuked this pastor, because that is pride, and we are all sinners saved by grace. Far from arrogantly claiming it would never happen to us, we need to humbly say, there but for the grace of God goes I.


Luke 18:11-14 (ESV Strong's)

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


Little sins creep in, folks, and we must guard against these little compromises.




Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor said it this way, “Small things are small things, but faithfulness with a small thing is a big thing.”


Revelation 2:17 (ESV Strong's)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’


The manna speaks of God’s abundant provision, and the white stone is thought to represent victory, because triumphant athletes received a white stone. Interestingly these conquerors receive their reward in secret, very personal, with a name known only to you. The world can’t see these rewards, but we know they are there. Wisdom, character, righteousness, honour, many humble believers receive these, and most of the world misses it.


But I am concerned and I believe the Lord is speaking to us about our little compromises, the ones nobody else sees, yet the little foxes are the ones that spoil the vines. These limit our growth in the important things of God, and they can limit our character development and even can leave us exposed to public humiliation. And listen, those little compromises have a habit of growing into bigger and bigger sins, and you cannot hide even the little ones, even the little thoughts from God…


Numbers 32:23 (ESV Strong's)

you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.


No man sets out to commit adultery and get divorced. It starts with a little look, here and there, a little flirting, and before you realise it you’re hooked. No one sets out to be a gossip, but they start talking about others in small ways behind their backs, and before you know it your reputation is gone. No believer sets out ruin their church, but by pride and grabbing for power many people have destroyed what God was building in a church.  They might gain control of it, but it is spiritually dead!


Proverbs 28:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.


Ignite Church has taken a stand on many issues, and we’ve taken a stand on the big issues of our day including the family, same sex marriage, how our children are taught and abortion.  We know what God’s Word says, and we stand on that 100%, no matter the consequences.


But that’s not enough, Church! If we tolerate little compromises in the hidden sins, if we turn a blind eye to little acts of disunity, little conflicts, or little sins no one else even knows about, then we risk losing it all, including our ability to reach our nation for Christ! Our witness for Christ will be destroyed if we tolerate the little compromises.


Jim Rohn once said, “Neither a marriage nor a business fails overnight. Cataclysmic failures generally come from a series of small, correctable failures.” The little compromises, not dealt with!




Remember Star Wars, and the big attack on the Death Star? The rebel fighters drop into the channel, and the Imperial fighters are shooting at them. I distinctly recall one of the pilots saying over and over, “Stay on target, stay on target.”


So I did a little research. Pilots tell us that if they are one degree off course, for every 60 km they fly they will be 1 km off their target. And of course, the longer the flight, the further from the target they will finish up. If a plane is 1 degree off when flying Brisbane to Singapore, as I am about to so this week, we will either land in Indonesia or the South China Sea. I’m kinda hoping they get this right!


Yet pilots also tell us that every plane flying is off course 99% of the time. How does any plane travel any distance and arrive at the right place? They constantly readjust their course, and they do not tolerate any little compromises, but when they are made aware of them, they correct them immediately.


Sometimes great victories can be undone by seemingly small sins. We need to be consistent in our walk with God, making sure that all areas of our lives are yielded to him. Even the smallest sin or bad habit can lead us off course over time. We consistently need to see the truth of where we are spiritually and ask God to redirect our course back in line with his will.


And it’s a constant battle. But the Bible says,


Proverbs 4:25 (ESV Strong's)

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before 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. Little course corrections keep you on target.


Little compromises are little turns off course, and we cannot tolerate them if we are to become great for Jesus. I speak to myself as much as to you. Those little compromises, those little foxes will destroy everything if we do not keep short accounts with God. All of us, no exceptions.


Balaam compromised a little bit to get what he wanted, the Church at Pergamum, despite their great stand for Christ, let sin in the back door and let those little compromises kill them. I don’t want this to happen to me, or to you, or to our church.




So this morning, I’m going to ask you to clean house in your life. You don’t have to come up here and tell me what the sin is, but I’m asking you to clean it out. No matter how habitual, no matter how embarrassing, no matter how trivial you might consider it, today is the day we deal with the little foxes.


1 John 1:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


What little compromise do you need to confess today, to move you back on course? Will you commit to keeping short accounts with God, doing daily quiet times, reading His Word, making those small adjustments to keep on target? Commit or compromise, that’s the choice. It’s always been the choice.


Lessons from the Lamps 2- Persecution and Poverty

November 1, 2017

I am sharing a series on the 7 churches Jesus prophesies to in the first few chapters of the book of Revelation. The other week we saw a very successful, busy and hard working church at Ephesus, but their problem was that they had forsaken their first love.


I hope you fell in love with Jesus once again last week. He is worth being in love with!


But this week we want to look at Jesus’ words to the church at a place called Smyrna…


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

To the Church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’




The Church at Smyrna is one of the two churches Jesus did not rebuke. Why was that? They were suffering, and God has a heart of compassion to those who are suffering righteously. Jesus didn’t commend them so much as express deep sympathy and love for a hurting people.


Smyrna was a seaport situated 35 miles north of Ephesus. Jesus’ opening words to this church set the tone…


Revelation 2:8 (ESV Strong's)

To the Church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.


Smyrna in Greek literally means bitter, and is the name for the spice myrrh, which was used as a perfume during burial, famously used when Jesus was buried. So when Christ says He died and came to life, He is playing on the name of their city, and also the fact that some of them would face persecution to the point of martyrdom. Jesus was encouraging this heavily persecuted church to stand firm. He was saying, no matter what they throw at you, no matter what they say, read the end of the book and find out that WE WIN!


So what’s with this persecution?




The Church at Smyrna was right in the firing line, because the city was not only a prosperous city, but it was the centre for the Roman imperial cult of Caesar worship. In 195 B.C. a temple to the Goddess of Rome was constructed, and in A.D. 26 a temple to Tiberius was also constructed. These and other temples were built upon a hill which produced a dramatic visual effect, looking like a crown, and the temples were popularly described by the phrase “the Crown of Smyrna.”


Anyone refusing the say, “Caesar is Lord” was certainly going to be persecuted and experience hardship, maybe even death.


The city was set up around various guilds to whom you had to belong if you wanted to be employed, in much the same way some unions are set up today. To be a part of a guild they required all members to worship Caesar, so anyone refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord was certain to be excluded from the guilds, meaning unemployment and poverty.


There was also a large Jewish community in Smyrna, but because they were officially recognised as an acceptable religion to the Romans, they were exempt. And they hated the Christians. The bottom line is that these believers were persecuted by both Jews and gentiles, slandered and condemned to abject poverty in what was a very wealthy city.


 And you may be experiencing this even now… persecution for being a Christian, or poverty, when others around you seem to have everything. If this is you today, let me tell you that Jesus cares, just as He cared for the Church at Smyrna. He loves you and has a plan. You just need to trust Him!


This church at Smyrna knew what suffering was, and faced even more ahead. Jesus said…


Revelation 2:10 (ESV Strong's)

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.


Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna, and was trained for ministry under the apostle John. He was a close friend of the apostle John, and know as a great and honourable pastor and man of God. During the reign of the Roman emperor Antonius Pius, a great persecution against Christians occurred. When the aged Polycarp was arrested and ordered to renounce Christ, he proclaimed: “I have served Him for 86 years and He has done me no wrong. Can I revile my King who saved me?” Polycarp was then burned alive at the stake. Yes, this Church knew much about suffering, and Jesus was preparing them for even more in the near future, even to the point of death.


Think about that… whatever suffering, whatever persecution, whatever poverty you face, it’s unlikely that it will involve death for what you believe in. Yet this Church faced such a prospect with hope and with joy, and their leader set the tone for the Church, as I must for you!





Revelation 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.


Jesus uses two interesting words here… tribulation is Thlipsis in Greek, and it literally means intense pressure. I would liken tribulation to a python killing its prey. The snake does not squeeze, it tightens and holds the tightening. When you breathe out, it tightens again until there is no breath remaining. This is typical of persecution, especially in our country. They don’t line us up in front of the wall and shoot us, they squeeze and squeeze and try and make us conform to their image of what we should believe.


Jesus uses the Greek word ptochaia for poverty, which is a descriptive word which goes beyond being poor to the point of being a beggar… it is the grossest form of poverty. In our country we rarely see true poverty on the scale you might see overseas, but many of us are struggling financially.


In many Asian countries I know of, Christians face exactly this situation… they refuse to take part in bribery. This means they miss out on business opportunities, work, and many plunge into poverty as a result.


But dude, this is Australia, it’ll never happen here! Well folks, what we are seeing right now is the start of our persecution, and far from being upset or bewildered about it, I believe this is our moment to light up and shine more than ever before. This is our chance to ignite and burn brightly when all around is dark!


And what tools will the enemy use in our case? The media, popular opinion, even the government, and what will they attack? They will attack our reputations and they will attack our wealth and finances. This plebiscite is not really about gay marriage, it’s about an attack on the family and the Church. So said Arch Bishop Julian Porteous at our state convention the other week.


They’ve already started slandering us, they’ve already started an insane level of attack against Christians on social media, and they will pick on certain Christian businesses try and bankrupt them. They did it to a cake store in Portland, Oregon… we will be no different. They are out to destroy the Church, or render it powerless. Interestingly, Jesus uses 2 different words in verses 9-10 to describe the enemy… Satan and devil. 1. Satan literally means the accuser, and 2. Devil means slanderer. How apt! That’s why in Revelation 12:10 he is called the accuser of the brethren.


Slander, Financial pressure and poverty are great weapons in the hands of the enemy… but we need not fear them, or him. They will attack, they will persecute but don’t fear them, because my bible says …


1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

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




The fact is, we live in a fallen world, and bad things happen to good people. And bad people sometimes seem to prevail, even when it doesn’t seem right. Have you ever looked at what you don’t have, and how things are not working out for you, and cried out to God saying, “How come the wicked seem to prevail and the righteous don’t?”


That’s exactly the question asked by the prophet Habakkuk..


Habakkuk 1:4 (ESV Strong's)

So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.


Habakkuk 1:13 (ESV Strong's)

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,

why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up

the man more righteous than he?


In a couple of chapters, the Lord more or less says, “Let me deal with them, what they have done will not go unpunished.”


And then comes the great declaration for faith, and this is how we should approach any difficult time we face. We shouldn’t complain. Or compare ourselves with others, but by faith stand for what is right no matter what they say or do. And no matter what the circumstances!


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.


That how to face poverty! That’s how to face persecution! That’s how to face the times when things just don’t seem to work out! Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.


You miss out on that job. You prayed for healing and got sicker. That person accuses you of something you know you haven’t done. You’re down to your last few bucks. You feel you’ve been missed out, misrepresented or misunderstood. You feel overlooked, overstressed and you’re just over it. You feel like the bottom of the pile, the bottom of the barrel, the bottom line is your luck’s bottomed out! No matter what it seems like, no matter what circumstances you face, it’s time you stood up and said with the church of Smyrna and the prophet Habakkuk, “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.”


See that’s when God really takes notice. That’s when Jesus is full of joy, when the hard times come and you don’t complain and whinge or accuse God of abandoning you or leading you in the wrong direction. We all face hard times, but this doesn’t bless God, especially if we whine, complain and lash out at others. This Church at Smyrna faced persecution, yet through it all they stayed faithful and true, not compromising, not turning aside to the right or the left, not complaining or whinging, not lashing out at people who love us, not leaving churches to try and find a better one. They chose to stand firm where God had placed them, and Jesus commended them!


How can you face such persecution and poverty and keep a right attitude. The secret lies in


Revelation 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)


That’s the secret… they might look poor, but they knew they were truly rich. And so are you!




Our society is built around the drive to get wealth, isn’t it? Wealthy people are considered blessed, poor people are considered cursed. Our world is about keeping up with the Jones, or the Kardashians.


The Bible has a lot to say about wealth, and not much of it is good. The rich young ruler, for example, walked away from Jesus not because he had wealth but because wealth had him!  So lets get this straight…  it is not wrong to have money, but a Jesus said,


Matthew 6:24 (ESV Strong's)

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


So you can have money, have lots of it if you wish, but don’t serve it. Most wealthy people become obsessed with money, and want more and more. Oil tycoon and richest man in the world at the time, John D Rockefeller was once asked, “How much money is enough money?” He famously replied, “Just a little bit more.”


But this church at Smyrna was far from wealthy in financial terms, just like you and I.


Revelation 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)… What does Jesus mean?




So they had no money, but they had something that was priceless, riches beyond measure. What did they have? Their relationship with Christ, that’s what. And this relationship gave rise to a wealth of wisdom and understanding that far outweighs and eclipses money, houses, cars and thick wallets.


Colossians 2:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


Godly wisdom, righteous maturity, the love of your family, eternal life… these cannot be bought and their worth cannot be measured.


I’ve known many people, some of who, are in his room, who have little money, are on pensions and have few assets, but they have a godly wisdom I respect and crave, a deep love of God, a level of faith and contentment you simply cannot buy. This is what the church at Smyrna had… this is true wealth!


Romans 11:33 (ESV Strong's)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!


If you face persecution today, if you face poverty, if you face sickness, fear, anxiety, lack, it’s time to take your eyes off the situation, take your eyes off the circumstance and recognise the wealth you possess, what many people overlook, but which is right in your hands…


 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV Strong's)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.


People with money often become obsessed with money, getting more of it, the things it can buy, the power it can wield. Most I know are never content… never!


Money is not evil, the love of money is the root of all evil. People are basically greedy, but the Church at Smyrna inspires us to be so much more. To take our eyes off the money, and recognise how blessed we really are. We’re wealthy folks, whether the world can see it or not. You might not have much right no, but you’re still in the top 5% of the world for standard of living.


Serve God, or serve money? People who choose money are, in my experience, far from fulfilled. They crave something more, they crave wisdom, crave knowledge, crave families that love them, faithful partners, contentment, fulfilled lives. Yet they try and meet these cravings with money, and it doesn’t work. You can’t buy happiness, you can just be miserable in comfort. But I’d rather be genuinely happy!




Look at your life. Go on, take a good long look. You may not have a lot of money, but look at the true wealth you have. Have you got the Word of God? This is gold, this is precious stones. Reading this every day, you open the door to wisdom


James 3:17 (ESV Strong's)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.


You have salvation. You have the opportunity to gain a godly wisdom from above, to have an amazing understanding beyond human contemplation.


You have a church like this, full of people who love you, who want to get to know you, support you, care for you, inspire you. You have people around you who love you, friends, spouses, kids. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you have wealth that lasts for eternity.  It’s not pie in the sky when you die by and by, it’s really power for living, starting right here, right now by the Holy Spirit.


So today, some of you here are battered and bruised. Persecuted, mistreated, hurt by others. Some of you struggle with poverty, with lack… no job, little money, much depression. You cannot buy the things you want, for yourself or those you love. But listen to what Jesus said..


Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Today I challenge you… what are you treasuring right now? Where is your treasure, and where is your heart.


Stand if you are facing financial hardship. Today I want challenge those who are desperate enough to pursue God first, not wealth. To pursue the divine, not the dollar.


Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV-WS)

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights.


The Truth about Fasting- Lynn Preece

October 24, 2017

Learn the truth about Biblical fasting, and the incredible health benefits of fasting.  In this amazing message, Nutritional Therapist Lynn Preece explores the basis for fasting, the benefits of fasting and the way every one of us can begin to make fasting a part of your lives.  There are spiritual and health benefits, and you can learn all about them in this wonderful session.


Ignite Christian Church… New Name, New Vision

October 24, 2017

Today is a major day in the history of this church. It is a day of fresh beginnings, it is a day of fresh vision. As you can see, the stage is different, no longer black and dull because we have added a little colour. It is also the day when we launch our new name. 




Now some people think this is a great idea, while others are not so sure. This is not about whether it is your preference or not, I have sensed for 2 years and had it confirmed in dozens of ways that we need to change our name. Why change your name?


If you look throughout the Bible you will see that many times names were changed at significant points in people’s lives especially after encounters with God. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, Judas became Mud! Encounters with the Lord caused new direction in the lives of these men, and sometimes, but not always, it was accompanied by a change of name.


In Bible times a name should tell you something about a person, and so it is with us.


The name Coast Church has been around for several years, and is quite a strange one. We are nowhere near the coast, we get mixed up all the time with Suncoast Church, and we have significant history both good and bad, some of which is great and some of which we need to distance ourselves from.


The other week at our national conference I believe the Lord spoke clearly to me confirming once again the name change, and He used the phrase “draw a line under the past.” So today, we draw a line under the past, take our eyes from the past and look to the future!


And also this very week in my quiet times came a verse which I believe some of us need to hear…


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.


Today God is doing a new thing among us, and I believe this change of name is a new thing that will yield fruit long into the future. The leadership have been seeking the Lord for many months regarding His choice of name, and we wanted one that spoke prophetically into the future the Lord has for us.  So without any further ado, here is our new name...




Went camping a few weeks ago, and lit a small fire. Just after I lit the fire, a massive storm blew up, and I watched the tiny flame whip up into something extraordinary. As the wind rushed across the little fire, the embers glowed, the flames grew and the sparks began to fly far away. At this point God spoke into my heart and said, “This is what I have destined for you!”


I shared this with a few pastors in oversight last week, and they loved it. They believed that Ignite speaks prophetically into our church about the task ahead, to ignite fires of the Holy. Spirit right across this great land. And, after input from many including our prayer folk, it was decided to call it a Christian Church, because of the evil times in which we live. We will proudly profess to be Christians, no matter the consequences in these troubled days!


Now you might be thinking that calling yourself ignite is a brave move for a group of people who live in a 100 year old wooden building, but I want to share my vision of how Ignite Christian Church can set your life ablaze with the power of God.




Fire is a frequently used symbol in the Bible. It is a symbol of judgement at Sodom and Gomorrah, it’s a symbol of sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac. In the temple, fire denoted sacrifice too, and Paul continues this image when he talks of us being a living sacrifice in Roman 12:1.  Fire was a key image of God’s guidance right through the Exodus, leading, guiding and protecting God’s people


Exodus 13:21 (ESV Strong's)

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.


And of course when the Holy Spirit was poured out…


Acts 2:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.


Fire is a powerful and arresting manifestation of the presence of God, and that’s why we are seeking the Lord as a Church and asking Him to ignite and fan into flame His presence among us.


Hebrews 12:29 (ESV Strong's)

for our God is a consuming fire.


But enough of the theology, what do we hope this new name does for you as our church family? Let me share one fiery encounter…


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

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”


The Hebrew for burning means fire, kindling, it also means it was ignited. So our prayer is that Ignite Christian Church ignites something special within you today! It was a bush on fire that turned Moses aside, and it will be a Church on fire, believers on fire that will turn a world aside that is heading to hell fire!


And I for one want to be on fire for Christ! If I am on fire, if the leaders are on fire, if the church is on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit, then chances are you will be ignited too! John Wesley was once asked why he attracted such crowds to his preaching, and he replied, “I set myself on fire in the pulpit, and people came to watch me burn.”


So this is what we want to ignite in you…




Last week we talked about first love, and first love must involve passion. Now passion can be a good or a bad thing. I’m passionate about many things, but I’m especially passionate about the Lord Jesus. Passion is often described in terms of a burning within, so in a sense we want to ignite the right kind of fire as passion in your life.


In Romans 1:27 we see the bad side of passion,


Romans 1:27 (ESV Strong's)

the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another,


That’s not the passion we want to stir up, but rather passion for the One who saved your souls…


Romans 12:10-11 (ESV Strong's)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.


The phrase fervent in spirit is often translated “Keep the fire of devotion burning strong.”


In this church, we want to ignite a passion within you for Jesus Christ, and we want to stoke that fire until it is white hot, until it is all consuming. I’m asking the Lord for a church of on fire believers, so my prayer is that He ignites a fire of the Holy Spirit within all of us!





Jeremiah proclaimed the word of the Lord to a generation that treated him with scorn and derision.  Frankly, he got tired of the attacks, and tried to keep his mouth shut and just let them go to hell… literally. But then he writes this…


Jeremiah 20:9 (ESV Strong's)

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,”

there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones,

and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.


The fire for evangelism kindled up or ignited and burned so deep within him that he could not stay quiet. And that is my prayer for all of us. That we ignite the fires of Evangelism so that we share our faith and see people coming to Christ on a scale we have never even dreamed of! Now I believe that we face persecution as Christians in this next season, but oh Lord, ignite a fire and a passion within us to share our faith and win this area to Christ!





Truth is a dubious commodity these days, and even in the church we have well meaning but deluded people watering down God’s clear commands and truths. But when you ignite the truth it has a way of exploding in fire, searing consciences and burning the fakeness and self centred theories off like dross. Have you ever wondered why, on the road to Emmeus, the disciples said this…


Luke 24:32 (ESV Strong's)

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”


Their hearts were ignited because Jesus expounded truth to them, and when Jesus ignited the fire it was as if their hearts burned within them. And that’s our agenda here, we want to ignite a passion for the truth, and we want truth to be preached and taught and spoken about over coffee, and we want the truth of God’s Word burning within us, because the truth is what will set you free!


So we will continue to preach and teach the Word of God…


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

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.





Worshipping the Lord is a part of our Christian life, and we want to ignite a real passion within all of us to worship the King of Kings


Psalms 39:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned;

then I spoke with my tongue: “O Lord, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!


The Psalmist had ignited within Him a heat or a passion for worship, such that he could not but speak out the praises of the Lord! How small we are, how awesome God is, we want Church to ignite a passion for praise and worship that consumes us!


We are starting special meetings that will be just praise and worship, prophecy and prayers. I believe that these services will ignite a passion within us that will empower us to reach our community for Christ!




One of the central desires I have had as your pastor is to stir up the gifts that you have. This is why we do 101 and 201, and if you have a desire for ministry in your heart, this is the place for you. My calling, my passion is to release people into ministry. If you want to minister and make a difference in the lives of others, we have teams here that can help you, train you and give you opportunities that simply do not exist elsewhere.


2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


The Greek word for “fan into flame” is a compound word anazo-pyro, where anazo means make alive and pyro means fire. So this word translates as to inflame, to kindle up or to ignite a fire.


If you long to be involved in ministry, this church can and will ignite the ministry flames in your heart!





Ephesians 5:25 (ESV Strong's)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,


Jesus loves the church… many modern Christians don’t, many profess to love the Lord but hate Church, but Christ loves the church. We are still His plan for a fallen world.


I believe that on our coast, for every believer in church there is a believer dislocated from Church. Dislocated means not connected in. I have many times dislocated my shoulder, and I can tell you the experience is painful, sickening and when I do it, my arm is not functioning properly. So too, believers not connected to church are usually in pain, feeling separated and not functioning the way God wants them to.


And they’re mostly like this because someone in Church, usually the pastor, has offended them, or upset them, or bored them to tears.


Our prayer is that this church ignites a fresh a passion for the church, and for bringing others into the Church. A church that is a home, a place of peace and excitement, a place of love and support.  Are we perfect? No, of course not. But are we still God’s answer or a hurting world? Absolutely!






Jesus said,

Luke 12:49 (ESV Strong's)

 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!


Already kindled? Already ignited? We face one of the bleakest times for Christianity in this nation, but if we ignite a fire together, then when it’s darkest we can shine more brightly than ever before!


Zechariah 13:9 (ESV Strong's)

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver,

and test them as gold is tested.

They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”


We are going to be tested, but by God’s grace, the truth of the Word of God and by the power of His Spirit, we will stand firm, and we will be refined by fire, ignited and consumed for our Jesus!


The vision for moving ahead in Ignite Christian Church is not to just build a big church. How do you start a bushfire? Not by building a big bonfire and toasting marshmallows, but by igniting a string of fires that spread and build momentum.


I believe we are called to ignite fires right across this area, and even beyond, and start a series of fires that will transform a nation! My vision is to plant new churches out of this one. And to build up those churches who are struggling. Let’s kindle the fire, let’s ignite a fire together and see revival fires sweep across our nation!




Ignite Christian Church is a new start, a fresh vision, but also I believe a God given prophetic word to our people. It’s time to unite and ignite, its time to not look back but to unite as one as we look to the future. It’s time to light a fire against which the gates of hell shall not prevail!


So what I’m asking of you this morning is how about it? Will you join us? You have the opportunity to stand with us and ignite these passions in your own life. I’m asking you to join with us to ignite the fire of God in our nation and believe God for revival in the great Southland of the Holy Spirit!


And what will this take? We need to discover the greatest strength we have as believers… unity!


Psalm133 shows us that when we have unity, we will see the Lord bestow His blessing, even life forevermore. Last week we attended our state conference, and they spoke on unity. It was said that when we unite around a God given vision for the Church, God can do wonders. Unity is not about just getting along, it’s not about us enjoying unity and peace. No, it’s far more than that.


That Psalm talk about unity seeing a flow of anointing oil, overflowing the face and beard of Aaron


Psalms 133:2 (ESV Strong's)

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,

on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!


What it is talking about is the flow of the Holy Spirit. Disunity blocks the flow, but if we stand together, united and ignited in unity, we will see a flow of the Holy Spirit such as we have never seen before!


So that is the challenge… We may not see eye to eye on everything, but if we are mature enough, we can walk hand in hand and arm in arm. So will you join us and ignite the fires of revival, in your own heart, in our church and across our nation?


Lessons from the Lamps- First Love

October 16, 2017

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


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




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


Revelation 1:3 (ESV Strong's)

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


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




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


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

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

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


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


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


Revelation 1:20 (ESV Strong's)

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


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






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

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

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


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




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

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


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




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




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


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




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


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

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


1 John 4:1 (ESV Strong's)

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


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




In verse 3 Jesus describes them as

Revelation 2:3

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


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


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


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




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

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


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


Paul wrote to another church at Thessalonica


1 Thessalonians 1:3 (ESV Strong's)

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


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




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


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


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


Jeremiah 2:2 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV Strong's)

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


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




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


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


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




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


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


1 John 3:18 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


1 John 5:3 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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




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


Revelation 2:5 (ESV Strong's)

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




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


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


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

Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.

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


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


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


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


2.     REPENT


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


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


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


2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

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


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



3.     REDO


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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

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


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


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


Philippians 3:14 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


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


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


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




Creation, Evolution and the Gospel- Dr Tas Walker

October 11, 2017

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


“If-Not” Faith

October 3, 2017

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


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


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


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


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


Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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




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


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




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


Daniel 3:8 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


2.                   THEY TOOK A STAND


Daniel 3:14 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


3.                   THEY BEHAVED RESPECTFULLY


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


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


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

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


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





They respectfully answered the king…


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

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


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


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


Hebrews 11:6 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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





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

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


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


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


This is the type of faith commended in Hebrews 11…


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

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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


Matthew 6:8 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


This is what I reason about faith…

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


1.                   GOD IS INCAPABLE


Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)

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


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


2.                   OUR FAITH IS INADEQUATE


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


Matthew 17:20 (ESV Strong's)

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


3.                   WE DID NOT ACTUALLY HEAR FROM HIM


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


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

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


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


4.                   GOD HAS A HIGHER PLAN


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


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

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Can you trust Him that much?


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



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

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




To the Mountains- Pastora Leonilla Nevalta

September 26, 2017

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


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