Speaking Life- Ps Greg Biddell

January 16, 2018

Speaking life into your heart and your situation is the subject of this excellent and inspiring message from pastor Greg Biddell.

 

Greg and Sue have been in ministry since 1966 and have served as missionaries, pastors and teachers.  They now travel extensively throughout Australia as itinerant ministers. To read more information about Greg and Sue and their ministry, please go to the About Us tab on the tool bar above.

Our desire is to teach the Word of God in a practical way, to help you be victorious, live in health and receive the blessings of God for your family, church and business life.

Greg has written and published over thirty five BooksCD's and Charts, which can be viewed on our Products page or from the navigation bar on the left.  These are great resources which will inspire you to move deeper into God's Word.

So if you are keen to be speaking life into all the situations you face, rather than words of death, then listen to Greg's message now...

00:0000:00

Total Surrender

January 8, 2018

As we face a New Year, we wonder what is in store for us. Is this going to be a good year, or a tough one? Am I going to go ahead with the potential in my life, or fall away? Is it going to be the same as last year and the year before?

 

I believe that this is a pivotal year for Ignite Christian Church, and for each of you personally. I was recently criticised by a visitor for preaching too hard on righteousness, but I make no apology for this. I’m not here to play games or tickle ears, I’m here to encourage but also to challenge you. My vision for you is not to see you cruise through life and just exist, rather it is to see you thrive in the things of God and to inspire you in 2018 to become all that God has destined you to be.

 

I have sought the Lord asking for a key verse for this year, and I believe He has given us

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

In 2018, Ignite Church is the light on a hill, and we are called to shine boldly and brightly in this dark world. Another verse our leadership have received several times is this one…

 

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.

 

So it is time to stop looking back, however good, however tough, and start looking ahead to what the Lord has destined for us!

 

As we face this New Year, what  can make a difference in Ignite and also in us as individuals?

 

GETTING INTIMATE WITH GOD

 

One of our greatest needs as human beings is to know that we are loved. Each one of us here has to feel certain, deep down in our hearts, that someone loves us, cares for us, and has our best interests at heart.

 

The need to be loved is at the centre of most human relationships.  Men and women getting married, having families, having affairs, giving presents at Christmas, bringing up children, playing sport, joining clubs, joining Church, signing up to RSVP… all of us want to be loved in some way. And all of us need to know that somebody loves us.

 

That is how God designed us. He wants us to know that He loves each and every one of us with a passionate intensity too deep for words.

 

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

 

God created human beings with fellowship in mind—first with Himself and then with others. But we cannot fully love one another until we have ourselves experienced the love of God. We experience His love when we willingly surrender to His call to be our Saviour, Lord, and Friend.

 

2018 is the year to get intimate with God.  It is the year to totally surrender to Him!

 

ARE YOU AS SPIRITUALLY DEAF?

 

The fact is, many of us cannot hear God with any degree of accuracy or confidence. Lots of Christians say, “God told me this or that,” but how can they know? Very often Christians preface what is actually their opinion with the phrase, “God told me…” because they know that we can have no come back if it were true. That’s not often God, that’s often manipulation!

 

Of all the people who say, “God told me to tell you this” over the past year, barely a handful would genuinely be God.  Many good people tell me that they are never sure if the Lord is speaking to them, if at all.

 

So this year, how can you foster an attitude and a lifestyle that enables the Lord to speak to you intimately as He promised He will? Do you have to be a crazy nutcase to hear God, and is the only other alternative being as spiritually deaf as a post?

 

Of course not! Hearing God should be a natural part of every Christian’s relationship with the Lord. You shouldn’t be weird or over the top strange to have to hear God, and my experience is that most of the odd people are not really hearing God clearly anyway.

 

But neither should you be spiritually hard of hearing. Religious people in church, even back in Jesus’ day, never had a great track record of listening to God, that why Jesus quoted Isaiah in saying,

Matthew 13:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Now, I want to give you one word that can transform your year. One word that will open your eyes to what God wants you to see, one word that will open your spiritual ears to hear Him. One word that, if you truly embraced it and acted upon it, will take the life that you live right now and morph it into the life you’ve dreamed of, the powerful, Spirit filled life your Father has destined you to live…

 

THE WORD IS SURRENDER

 

Charles Stanley writes, “Our intimacy with God determines the impact of our lives.”

 

Surrender is defined as, “To yield to the power, control or possession of another.” (Miriam Webster’s Dictionary)

Romans 12:1 (ESV Strong's)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

The Greek word for present is paristemi which means to yield or surrender.

 

When I think of surrender, I always think of soldiers with their hands above their heads, yielding to the power of their conquerors. Now, when a soldier surrenders there is much fear. They have been fighting against the enemy, killing and destroying, and so to yield or surrender means they place their life into their enemy’s control, with no guarantees of survival or humane  treatment. They take a chance, and their life hangs in the balance.

 

But not so when we surrender to Christ. We yield to Christ with the knowledge that He will never leave nor forsake us.

Psalms 9:10 (ESV Strong's)

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

There are at least three reasons God seeks our surrender:

 

1.      GOD DESIRES OUR FELLOWSHIP

 

God loves us and desires our fellowship and worship. If we hold something back from God, if we refuse to draw close to Him by surrendering our lives to Him, we cannot know Him completely or fully experience His love.

James 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

When we surrender to Him, when we yield our lives to Him, we get all of Him. When we decide to move close to the Lord, when we start to seek Him with all our hearts, He moves closer to us.

 

2.      GOD DESIRES OUR SERVICE

 

God wants our service for Him to be effective and fruitful.

 

The more we know and love Jesus, the more effective our service will be, and the more He will grow our ministry. The closer we draw to God, the more impact our lives will have. The more energetically we nurture our relationship with the Lord, the greater the positive mark we will leave behind.

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

 

 Surrendering to God means more effective service, and this is what I mean by surrendering to God grows your ministry.

 

3.      GOD DESIRES TO BLESS US

 

God waits for the freedom to bless us.

 

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.

 

Note verse 13, seeking God with all your heart. This is surrendering to Him.

 

God is omnipotent, He is all powerful and can do anything, but He will not violate His own principles. He draws us to Himself so we can experience His love and forgiveness. He asks for our willing surrender so that He can give us the best blessings He has to offer.

 

We are sometimes like a young child watching TV. Their parent comes and wants to take them to the zoo, but they resist because they are content just watching TV, not knowing the wonderful experience awaiting them!

 

DON’T JOIN THE RESISTANCE

 

It is in your interests to surrender to God today at the start of this year! But we resist, don’t we? Why do we want to join the resistance instead of surrendering to someone whose expressed desire is to bless us not to harm us?

 

With all the blessings God has clearly in mind for us, why does anyone resist surrendering to God?

 

1.      PRIDE

 

Pride is the key reason most people resist surrender.

 

I remember Kira learning to tie her shoelaces, saying, “I do it mine self” and making us all late!

 

People think they know better than God and that they can handle their lives better than He can, so they keep Him at a distance.  Which is ironic, given the mess most of our lives finish up in, isn’t it?

Proverbs 18:12 (ESV Strong's)

Before destruction a man's heart is haughty (prideful), but humility comes before honor.

God wants us to put our trust in him.

We insult God when we trust in our own resources, or anything else, to deliver us from our problems. When we surrender our lives to God, we become his own chosen ones. He promises to hear us when we call out to him.

 

2.      FEAR

 

Others do not surrender because they fear what God will do (or not do) for them. They think that if they give God control, He’ll make them do exactly what will make them most miserable.

 

Many apparently can trust God to give them heaven, but cannot trust Him enough to give them heaven on earth in a life of fulfilment and joy.

 

 

Fear of the Lord is a great thing. Fear of the future is not. Can your trust in God exceed your fear for the future?

Proverbs 29:25 (ESV Strong's)

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

 

We often treat God like a man, thinking He is out to punish us, or make us suffer, or make us do things we hate just to show us who is boss. God is not like that, so stop tarring Him with the same brush as you would a leader, pastor or politician.

John 14:27 (ESV Strong's)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

 

3.      UNBELIEF

 

Still others refuse to surrender to Christ because they believe Satan’s lie, which tells them that God is judgmental and will punish them for their mistakes.

 

Jesus says this about Satan…

John 8:44 (ESV Strong's)

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

 

Don’t let your pride, fear or unbelief stop you from fully surrendering to the Lord

 

IT’S TIME TO SURRENDER

 

God always has our best in mind. He will refuse us no good thing when we gladly submit to His will. He tells us, “‘I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

Romans 8:31-32 (ESV Strong's)

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

 

When we fully surrender to Him, He will withhold no good thing. Of course, we will still face trials of many kinds, but He will graciously help us triumph over them, and use the trials to build character and wisdom into our lives.

 

It only makes sense to surrender to God, because when we do, we grow close to Him—which is His highest priority for us—and we begin to have an impact on our world.

 

And right now, at the start of the New Year is the perfect time to fully surrender to Him and allow Him to fulfil our destiny!

 

I have to do this every day.  I constantly have to fully surrender my life to Christ. In my life I have trusted many things, from my own talents and abilities to my profession to financial advisors.

 

When I fully surrender to Christ, when I fully trust Him for my provision, my future, my reputation and my blessings, that is when He can truly work in my behalf. Whatever I have to face, if I can face them with Jesus, I will be content!

 

IT’S TIME TO REALIGN

 

Is this the cry of your heart? Do you want to know the Savior and live in the fullness of His blessing each day? You can. David wrote,

Psalms 34:10 (ESV Strong's)

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Young lions try their best, but they are young, strong and headstrong. This year, are you resolved to work harder, try harder, do your best more often, or are you ready to surrender and give it all to Jesus?

 

If you boarded a flight to Sydney from our local airport, and the pilot was just 1 degree to the east off, you would land 17 km out to sea! The only way the pilot can cause you to arrive at your destination is to constantly realign the direction of the plane.

 

At the start of this year, we need realignment. We constantly need realignment. We need to be totally surrendering daily to God, and we can start right now.

 

If you have drifted in your devotion to the Savior last year and feel as though you grow more distant each day in your relationship with Him, then pray that He will draw you near once more. He knows your weaknesses, and if you will tell Him that you want Him to take control of your life, He will come to you in a mighty way and bring hope and light to your situation, no matter how dark and hopeless it may feel…

Isaiah 55:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

 

IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION

 

Charles Blondin, the great French tightrope Walker, became famous in 1860 for walking across a quarter of a mile of tightrope stretched 160 feet above Niagara Falls. He performed the feat many times in a variety of death defying ways, including on stilts, on a bicycle and blindfolded. He even carried a small stove and eggs across, and stopped halfway to cook an omelet!

 

Then he took a wheelbarrow across the falls, and asked the huge crowd if they believed he could carry a man in the wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls. They enthusiastically replied, “Yes, you’re the greatest tightrope walker in the world.”

 

“Ok!” He replied, “Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow?”

James 2:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

You’ve heard me call for total surrender this morning, and you can sit and applaud my fully committed heart. But today, I’m asking you to get into the wheelbarrow, I’m asking you to respond by not just listening, not just agreeing, not just thinking or resolving, but by stepping out and doing…

 

William Booth said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

 

How great do you want to be in this coming year? How surrendered are you prepared to be?

00:0000:00

New Year’s Eve 2018… Rise and Shine

January 2, 2018

Glen Cook once said, “Morning is wonderful…it’s only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.”

 

I don’t know about you, but I like sleep, and never seem to get enough of it.  And when you are asleep, waking up is often one of the hardest things to do.

 

My dad used to get up with the sparrows and start singing loudly, calling us to rise and shine. So Church, on the brink of a New Year, I believe 2018 is time for us to wake up, rise and shine.

 

 

SNOOZE YOU LOSE

 

Billy Graham once said, “We are to wait for the coming of Christ with patience. We are to watch with anticipation. We are to work with zeal. We are to prepare with urgency.” 

 

Paul put it this way…

 

Romans 13:11-14 (ESV Strong's)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

 

 

Warne Wiersbe summarised today’s passage in this way… “Wake up, clean up and grow up.” As we approach 2018, I believe we are in for one of the most challenging years yet, but it will also provide some of the greatest opportunities we have ever seen in this nation to shine for Jesus. For decades the church has been barely noticeable in our society, and now they notice us and they hate us and brand us bigots and prejudicial hypocrites. So let’s see how we can turn the lemons of the end of 2017 into the lemonade of joy and achievement in 2018.

 

WAKE UP

 

Romans 13:11 (ESV Strong's)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

 

Like teenagers sleeping in, the church has been asleep in this nation for decades. We’ve looked like the world, tried to sound like the world and in most ways been indistinguishable from the rest of the world. But now suddenly in 2018, following the government legislating same sex marriage, we now have the chance to wake up and look different to the rest of the world.

 

Jesus is coming back soon, I am more convinced than ever. Jesus describes the end times in Matthew as times of war, times of famine and pestilence. Then He says this…

 

Matthew 24:9-13 (ESV Strong's)

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

 

Then Jesus equates the end times with two other period in history, both of which were followed by severe judgement…

 

Luke 17:26-29 (ESV Strong's)

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—

 

Our society is facing imminent judgement for our wickedness and depravity. And while some Christians are content to float along and condone this wickedness, I believe 2018 is time to wake up and make a stand for what is true and noble and right!

 

GET THE MESSAGE RIGHT

A priest and pastor were standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that read, "The End is near! Turn around before it's too late!"

One speeding motorist yelled out his window, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” as he flew by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.

“Do you think," said one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says ‘Bridge Out’ instead?”

We as a church need to get the message right. The message is not that we hate homosexuals. The message is not that we want to ostracise ourselves from them. The message is not even that we don’t want homosexuals to have a fair go!

 

The message is that Jesus loves people, and He died for them.  Yet He is a holy God. We must stand for the righteousness the Bible peaches, but we must also love those who persecute us, and never before have we had the opportunity to do this like we face in 2018.

 

Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV Strong's)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

 

In 2018 it is time to wake up and love people, even those we disagree with. And that is my stand with regards homosexuals and transgenders… I do not, cannot and will not agree with your behaviour, but I love you and accept you and will treat you with respect. We will never win them if we do not love them, but loving them does not mean compromising what the Bible clearly teaches is sin.

 

They tell us that if we love them we will agree with their behaviour. That’s not true. We can say, “I love you so much, that I cannot let ultimately destructive behaviour slip quietly by. I love you so much I’m going to share the truth with you, even if you hate me for it!”

 

CLEAN UP

 

Romans 13:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy.

 

We need to wake up in 2018, but we also need to clean up. Not just wake up to the threats and challenges in our society, we must also clean ourselves up. If Ignite is to reach its full potential this year, it’s is up to us to be clean, Holy, pure, and to not harbour any sin in our lives.

 

While most of us will not be involved in orgies, drunkenness and sexual immorality, we will be sorely tempted in areas like quarrelling and jealousy.

 

1 Peter 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 

If God is going to use us in 2018, we need to be careful about how we behave.  I don’t expect you to agree with every decision our church leadership makes, but I do expect you to behave in a godly manner, and to maintain unity. Unity doesn’t mean that we see eye to eye on everything, but we can walk hand in hand and arm in arm. I believe that this year holds the greatest promise of any year in the history of this church, but only if we walk in obedience and stay clean before Him! In word, in deed and in conscience.

 

Without unity, we become just a shell of who we should be.  So as we face the New Year, let us leave behind anger, resentment and gossip. We need to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to serving the Lord and recognise our opinions are most just that… opinions.  Let’s keep our hearts and lives clean so we can move ahead together!

 

GROW UP

 

Romans 13:14 (ESV Strong's)

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

 

This year more than ever before we need to grow up. Remember, growing old is compulsory, but growing in maturity is optional. So how can we grow in maturity this year?

 

1.      GET SERIOUS WITH SIN

 

This year we need to cast off the old man and put on the new. I just talked about cleaning up our lives, but cleaning house is a sign of maturity. It’s time for you and I to stop trying to beat those old sins, and start trusting Jesus to beat them. And don’t look so smug, we all have them. It is time to get ruthless about tolerating sin in our lives. It’s time to get serious with sin!

 

And the truth is that many times we tolerate sin and treat it so casually.

 

Little boy fishing.

 

If doing something causes you to sin, stop doing it. If someone constantly causes you to sin, come away from them.

 

Romans 8:13 (ESV Strong's)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

Charles Stanley observes, “We know we should avoid a certain place, but we go there anyway. We recognise a personal weakness for a particular activity, but we tempt ourselves anyway. How often do we fall into sin because we plan for it?”

 

This New Year is your opportunity to repent, seek forgiveness and take drastic action to stop persistent sin. Make a covenant with me now to do whatever it takes to stop persistent sin in your life, even if it means losing friends or giving up activities you enjoy. It’s time for drastic surgery!

 

Proverbs 22:3 (ESV Strong's)

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

 

A native American story speaks of two wolves: one representing your good and wholesome self, the part of you that seeks to treat others honourably, to encourage, to build up, to love. The second wolf represents your destructive, evil self, the part of you that bites out with sarcasm and resentment and gossip, that tears down others and satisfies your own needs alone.

 

A boy once asked his father, “Which wolf will get stronger and over power the other in the battle for my life?” And the father said, “Son, that’s simple: the one that you feed.” As you follow Christ, you feed the good wolf within.

 

This year, which wolf will you feed? It’s time for us to cast off the sin that so easily entangles us!

 

2.      GET SERIOUS WITH YOUR DESTINY

 

Some of you here look at your life and wonder if that’s as good as it gets. Job, family, house, car, surely there is more to life than that? Ask yourself now, is there more to life than the life I now lead?

 

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.

 

Listen, God has a plan and a destiny for your life, something significant you can do, something special you can be a part of in the Kingdom of God. And part of the reason Ignite exists is to make your dreams of ministry come true.

 

Someone once gave me a workout DVD, and I reckon it doesn’t work. I watched it 20 times and feel no fitter than I did before! What’s the problem? I need to get off my backside and actually do it, not just watch it. And so it is with your destiny. 2018 is the year you can stop watching and start doing, you can stop merely attending church and start getting involved, you can stop wishing and start serving!

 

2018 is the year that many of you will discover your God given purpose. Some of you will rediscover it, because you use to do things in the Kingdom and you thought that time had passed. Your gift is not dead, it is dormant, and this next year is the year for stirring it up again!

 

 

3.      GET SERIOUS WITH GOD

 

None of this will happen if we do not get serious with God!  We have a new Bible reading plan, and I want to encourage you all to do it. This thing has taken off all over the place, and those doing it are really blessed. You cannot achieve anything significant for God unless you know Him, and the more you know Him the greater you will become.

 

The way you get to know Him is by reading His Word. Do it every day and I guarantee you your life with Christ will take off. 7 days without prayer and Bible study makes one weak.

 

This is not some stodgy old book, the Bible is empowered by God’s Spirit,

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

You don’t have to do my Bible reading plan, but do some plan. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail, and I believe that 2018 is the year many of us take off into the stratosphere in our lives and ministries.

 

 

4.      GET SERIOUS WITH CHURCH

 

Two statisticians went hunting. They saw a deer, and one shot and missed by 1m to the right, while the other shot and missed by 1m to the left, so they jumped up excitedly and proclaimed, “We hit it!”

 

Statistics are like that, you can make them say anything. But recently I saw statistics that indicate that in the modern church someone who attends church once a month is now considered regular.

 

We live in an age where people find it easy to lash out on Facebook, but hard to commit to Church, marriage or jobs. If we are to get anywhere this year, you and I need to be committed to church, not casual attenders. Ok, some have jobs that require them to work or travel on a Sunday, and some have family obligations, but outside of these I believe we need to do our utmost to play our part in Ignite Christian Church.

 

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

The hour is getting late, society and morals are crumbling around us, persecution is upon us and we as a family of believers need to get serious about church. Come join us as often as you can, and don’t stand on the sidelines criticising or feeling left out. Join us, there are wonderful things you can do and wonderful people you can share the journey with.

 

The Bible says don’t neglect meeting together. Remember,

 

Leviticus 26:8 (ESV Strong's)

Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

 

There is Holy Spirit power in us pulling together, and there is blessing in unity! And 2018 is the year when we shine our light, when we say to the forces of darkness,  “enough”, we will no longer cower in the corner, we will not fade away into the night, but we will stand together and fight for what is right, what is godly and what is honourable.

 

I was just reading Malachi 1 in the Bible reading plan, and was struck by how upset God was when we offer second rate sacrifices. The people were offering sacrifices as required by law, sure, but they were blemished, lame and sick.

 

It made me think, how often do we as Christians treat Church like a second rate sacrifice. I will turn up if I have nothing better on, if the surf is average, if the family lunch is cancelled. Brothers and sisters, this should not be!

 

If we get serious about showing up every week we can to church, and being involved in every way we can, then I believe it will bless God’s heart. If we are inconsistent, we are the ones who will miss out on the greatest opportunity we will ever get to be a part of something truly significant here at Ignite.

 

God knows our hearts, and He sees the level of our commitment. He promises this…

 

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV-WS)

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 

 

I aim to be that guy.  What about you?

 

More than ever before in the history of the church in this nation, we need to have Christians standing together. And in 2018, you and I have the chance to join the triumphant church and make a difference that will last eternity!

 

2018 IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE

 

Towards the end of this previous year we underwent some changes in this church, including changing our name. Ignite is not some random name I conjured up, it is a prophetic word over our church, and this is the year when we get to ignite, fire up and shine God’s Holy light in the darkness.

 

In Church, and in your Christian life, it is now time to stop looking back and start moving ahead. It’s hats off to the past, but coats off to the future, because God has place a mighty destiny before us!

 

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.

 

In a dry, parched and weary land, we can be the streams our people need. In a dark, evil, godless society, we can be the shining light.

 

But to truly shine this year, it takes 2 decisions on your part…

 

  1. Decide to shine
  2. Decide to keep shining, no matter what!

 

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

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

 

2018 is our year of destiny, it’s our year of moving forward, it’s our moment to shine! It’s our year to put aside things that ultimately don’t really matter, and concentrate in the one thing that does matter… serving Jesus with everything we have, everything we are, everything we say, everything we do and every desire we possess for the future.

 

Some of you will hear this and look away, saying he must be talking to someone else. But some of you know you have destiny within you, and you’re just waiting for the opportunity to shine. I stand before you pledging to give my all for the purposes of God in Ignite church this next year, and I’m asking you to stand with me, to shine with me!

00:0000:00

Jesus- On a Mission from God

December 20, 2017

Christmas means different things to different people. For some it’s a time of joy, a time to spend with family and good friends. For others it is a time of loneliness. For some it’s a thing of wonder, lights and magic, while for others it’s just a chance to take a few days off work, eat a bit and drink a lot.

 

In the middle of all this, you might be forgiven for thinking that the central figure of Christmas is a old, fat jolly guy in a red suit. There’s a lot of fake in Christmas… fake elves, fake snow, fake stars, fake trees, fake smiles at family gatherings, to the point where as adults we are conditioned to believe nothing but play along with the façade.  But those of us who are Christians have something more than the fakeness, something that makes this season one of true joy and genuine thankfulness. 

 

His name is Jesus, and at this time we celebrate His coming to earth. You’ll see pictures of Him as a baby, but that’s not the end of the story… it’s not even the beginning of the story! But why did He, being God, become a man, a person born in a lowly stable, to a working class family who lived in a working class town?  This is one of the great mysteries of Christmas, that Christ...

 

Philippians 2:6-11 (ESV Strong's)

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

He did not come randomly, He didn’t come to set up a religion. Jesus wasn’t just a good person, or a world class prophet. He was and still is God Himself, and He had the end game in mind.

 

Jesus came on a mission from God…

 

 

“WE’RE ON A MISSION FROM GOD”

 

 

I remember seeing the movie “The Blues Brothers”, where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd played Jake and Elwood, who get the original band back together to raise money to save a Catholic orphanage… hence they told everyone there were on a mission from God.

 

While that mission is debatable, Jesus definitely was on a mission from God. His birth was no accident, it was a very specific moment when God’s Son stepped into time for a specific, God ordained purpose.

 

This purpose involved Him becoming a man, being conceived supernaturally but being born just like you or I, growing up as a man, living life as a man of that time and finally, choosing to lay down His life. This mission was planned for centuries, and meticulously fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

 

 

According to Jewish teaching, the Messiah must fulfil specific descriptive words that were written about Him centuries before, (which we call prophecies) and fulfil them 100%... every single one of them!

 

Matthew 5:17 (ESV Strong's)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

 

There are over 300 references to 61 specific prophecies about Jesus in the OT. Failure to fulfil any single one of these would discount Jesus as the promised Messiah.

 

These prophecies are very specific, such as the town He must be born into, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) even down to things like being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13), where it even predicts that the 30 pieces of silver are given to buy the potter’s field. Not 29 pieces, and not 31. That’s how specific many of these predictions were.

 

So, 61 prophecies written 500-1000 years before Christ were all totally fulfilled in one man… Jesus Christ!

 

Mathematics Professor Peter Stoner calculated the odds that 8 of these prophecies could be fulfilled in one man, and discovered that the odds were 1 in 10 to the 21st power. What does that mean? Well, imagine if you covered the entire earth land mass in 20c coins to a depth of 36 metres, marked one coin and asked someone to travel the world and select that one specific coin first go. That’s the odds.

 

Forensic scientists match a DNA profile and say the odds of having the wrong person is one in several billion… well that’s the same for having these prophecies fulfilled in one man, and that’s only 8 of the 61 needed.

 

Jesus came on a mission from God, a very specific mission. Before we examine that mission, let me explain to you what Jesus’ mission from God was not…

 

WHAT JESUS’ MISSION FROM GOD WAS NOT

 

People being people, read the Word of God and twist and turn it to suit themselves, but when we examine why Jesus came to earth, we have to take the entire Bible into context, not just the bits that suit us.  Contrary to popular belief, these things were not Jesus’ mission from God…

 

1.      HE DID NOT COME TO BRING WORLD PEACE

 

When the angels announced the arrival of Jesus, they didn’t say peace on earth to all men. They said,

 

Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

Yes, Jesus came to bring peace on earth, but not for all men, only those with whom God is pleased, those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Until He returns again, we will always have war on earth because people are selfish and nations are militant.

 

In fact, Jesus said this…

 

Matthew 10:34 (ESV Strong's)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

 

He said this because He realised that when he came to save men’s souls, that this would cause conflict between believers and those who refuse to believe. I’ve experienced that at times, and many times people we love are against our beliefs and what inspires us.

 

But in the midst of all the terrorism, war, family conflict, divorce and pain, in a sea of arguments over money, things, relationships, gender, children and prejudice, Jesus can make you an island of inner peace. He did not come to bring world peace, but to allow you and I to have the inner peace that passes all understanding, and live a life of joy and fulfilment.

 

 

2.      HE DID NOT COME TO MEET YOUR NEEDS

 

 

Almost every religion or belief system I have seen emphasises “what’s in it for me!” People turn to religion to get God to do what they want. People turn to atheism not because it makes sense, (it clearly doesn’t) but because it gives them the right to behave the way they want.

 

I’m so sick of hearing people ordering God around, thinking if they can only say the right prayer, or do the right things they will get what they want.  That, my friends, is paganism.

 

We are consumers, you and I, and we always make choices based on what is best for us. But Jesus’ mission was never to come and give us what we want. It was never to make us feel comfortable and happy. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion, and yes, I will be the first to tell you that God has given me so many wonderful things in life, and unbelievable joy, but that’s a fringe benefit, it was never the main mission!

 

Philippians 4:19 (ESV Strong's)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Blessing comes to those who seek God first, but never lose sight of the fact that Jesus came with a greater mission that making your life joyful, happy and fun.

 

 

3.      HE DID NOT COME TO MESS UP YOUR SUPPOSEDLY PERFECT LIFE

 

Many people resist coming to Jesus not because they don’t believe He is real, but because they are worried that He will want to change the way they live, and they quite like how they live, sin and all!

 

Ephesians 4:22-23 (ESV Strong's)

put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

 

Jesus did come to change your life, but He did not come to rain on your parade! People say to me, “If I become a Christian I will have to stop smoking, swearing, drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, driving a nice car or partying, right?”

 

Ok, let’s have a look at that… Smoking? An expensive, dirty habit, and one that almost every smoker I know would give anything to stop. Drinking? It’s ok when you’re drunk, but how much fun are hangovers or alcoholism? Drugs? Expensive, ruins your life, ruins your career, ruins your relationships. Swearing? That’s an embarrassment. Sleeping around? How many diseases or disastrous relationships do you need before you figure out that sex with multiple partners is never as fulfilling as having God’s choice as a wonderful wife or husband? If sex brought fulfilment, the most fulfilled person in the world would be a prostitute! Partying? Well, you look cool when you are 18, sad when you are 28, embarrassing when you’re 38 and downright tragic when you’re 48 and still trying to party. What a waste of a life!

 

People tell me they don’t want to give up the things they like doing to become a Christian. Listen, coming to Christ doesn’t mean you stop having fun… in fact you have more fun, a fulfilled life, family, careers, and blessing others! And when you know Jesus, you recognise how shallow and destructive those old behaviours are.  When you come to Jesus, you don’t give up the lousy life you currently lead, you throw it away. I don’t give up my garbage, I throw it away.

 

John 10:10 (ESV Strong's)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

Any so called restriction placed on your life when you come to Christ is for your own protection, and it allows you to live the best life ever! I’ve been married to the same girl for 33 years last week, and I know guys who pick up girls in bars regularly. The world thinks their life is more exciting than mine, more fulfilling than mine, but all of them envy me and the relationship I have with one woman.

 

Jesus’ mission from God is not to restrict or mess up your life, it’s to fulfil it and make it abundant!

 

So now we know what Jesus’ mission wasn’t, let look at what His mission from God was.  Why did Jesus come to earth as a baby that first Christmas Day?

 

First, we need to understand the situation we find ourselves in, the condition of mankind. God created us perfect and without sin, and He gave us a garden to enjoy, but the devil tempted Adam and Eve away from God and towards sin.

 

WE LIVE IN SIN CITY?

 

What is sin? Is to murdering, or stealing or getting angry at people.  Those are some of the many symptoms of sin, but what is the cause of sin.

 

Sin is defined by the Bible thus…

 

1 John 3:4 (ESV Strong's)

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

 

Sin is doing anything, saying anything, even thinking anything that is contrary or against God. I have people say to me, “I’m a good guy, I’m honest, I try and do the right thing, so I don’t think I sin.”

 

Really? Have you ever been selfish? Ever envied your friend? Ever hurt someone you love? Clearly, according to the Bible, we are all guilty as charged. We all live in sin city. We are all lawless, obeying our laws and desires, not God’s.

 

ALL HAVE SINNED, AND ALL MUST PAY

 

The Bible says,

 

Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

And that is clearly true. The Bible says that God is holy, and that He, and indeed Jesus is without sin. Any sin. And God is so holy, He will not even look upon sin. The penalty for sin is separation from God, separation in this life from Him, and in eternity separated in hell.

 

Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

We are all destined for eternal death in hell, every one of us, because clearly we are all sinners! You might cry to God that it’s not fair, but it is extremely fair and just.

 

And this is why we can do nothing to redeem ourselves. Every religion in the world says that, if you live a good life and your good outweighs the bad, you might just be saved. It’s salvation by works, by doing everything from being a good person, handing out watchtower magazines or murdering non believers!

 

Every religion is man’s attempt up to reach God, but only Christianity is God’s attempt to reach down to man in the person of His Son and draw man to Himself.

 

MISSION 1- JESUS CAME TO SAVE YOU

 

But because of Jesus’ mission from God, Christianity is completely different. The Bible teaches that you and I are destined for hell, and nothing you can do will stop that. Even if you’re a nice guy, you won’t get to heaven, you’ll just get to be the nicest guy in hell!

 

Jesus’ primary mission was this… God knew we couldn’t become good enough to be saved, and that we deserve to die, so God sent His only Son to die in our place.

 

John 3:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

That’s the good news of the gospel… you don’t have to be good enough to be saved, because you can never be good enough, you just have to be willing to accept Jesus.

 

Romans 5:8 (ESV Strong's)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV Strong's)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

This Christmas, look beyond the baby in the manger and see the Saviour hanging on nails dying in your place! Nails didn’t hold Him to the cross, love did! His love for you is the very reason He became that baby, lived as a man and died the death we should have died, to open the door for us to come back to God.

 

John 10:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

 

Accepting God’s gift of eternal life is available to you this Christmas, free of charge. Just repent and receive, it is that simple.

 

MISSION 2- JESUS CAME TO SHINE IN A DARK WORLD

 

You probably don’t need me to tell you that this world is a dark, dark place! There’s pain, sickness, selfishness, war and prejudice. It seems mankind can’t help themselves, they just hurt each other.

 

Pause right now and look around at life… there’s the threat of war in North Korea, there’s famines we can’t control, there’s sicknesses we cannot heal, let alone control, there’s evil regimes that operate unchecked. Today there’s more terrorism, more mental illness and more drug abuse than ever before.  Mankind doesn’t know where the next terror attack is coming from, we don’t know how to act kindly, how to care properly for the poor, how to eat properly ourselves, how to relate properly. We’ve no idea how to stop envy, greed, prejudice, exploitation, divorce, separation, and mankind is so smart we don’t know the difference between a male and a female any more!

 

This world is a mess. What sort of world are we leaving to our children? If we really love our kids, the best thing we can do is to come to Jesus and lead them out of this horrible darkness and into His light.

 

You see, into such a world God sent His Son to shine a light, His truth, His grace and compassion into our lives, a ray of hope that started at Christmas and grew to completeness hanging on a cross for you.

 

The second part of Jesus’ mission from God was to shine His holy light in the darkness of the world…

 

Jesus said,

John 8:12 (ESV Strong's)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

John 12:46 (ESV Strong's)

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

 

But here’s the thing… the Bible says mankind hates it when the light shines into their darkness, because they are ashamed of what they do. Men love darkness because it kind of covers up their faults and sin. Ever wondered why evil things like prostitution, drug taking, drinking, gambling, wife beating, pornography, murder and most other sins, mostly occur at night?

 

John 3:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

 

MISSION 3- JESUS CAME TO HEAL AND SET CAPTIVES FREE

 

Jesus’ mission from God was summarised in Isaiah, used by Jesus in Luke to describe Himself

Luke 4:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

 

If you are feeling like someone or something holds you captive today, Jesus has come to set you free. If you’re a slave to destructive habits, Jesus has come to set you free. If you feel bound, overwhelmed, hurt, if you feel like you are struggling against insurmountable odds, Jesus has come to set you free.

 

Jesus mission includes healing the sick, binding up the hurt and broken hearted.

 

 

MISSION 4- PROVIDE POWER FOR LIVING

 

Jesus didn’t just come on a mission from God to save us, and to heal and restore us, but His coming opened the way for us to have real power for living. He died in our place on the cross, but death could not hold Him, and 3 days later He conquered death and sin and rose again, showing us that we too can have eternal life!

 

John 11:25 (ESV Strong's)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

 

Eternal life is not some pie in the sky when you die by and by, it starts right here. Jesus’ mission was to give us life for here and now, as well as eternity. The power to live a triumphant life, every day, no matter what circumstances throw at us. Life to the full, starting now.

 

Jesus died, rose to life again and then went back to be with the Father, but before He went He gave us this gift…

 

Acts 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 

The Holy Spirit is the deposit of God, living within us. I can’t live a righteous life, and either can you, but God’s Spirit living in you can slowly transform the way you live to empower you to live a righteous, triumphant and blessed life. When Jesus came that first Christmas, His mission was to bring salvation to mankind, to shine in a dark world, to heal and set men free and to empower you to life life to the full. But He has one more mission objective…

 

 

MISSION 5- RAISE AN ARMY TO WIN THE WORLD

 

Jesus came that first Christmas as a meek and mild baby, born into poverty, raised in obscurity, but He has promised to return, and it will not be as a baby! He’s coming back again in triumph, as the rightful King, and to this end He is raising an army of believers to win the world!

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

 

CHOOSE THIS DAY

 

This Christmas, we remember Jesus coming as a baby. He came on a mission from God, He came and died a horrible death because He loves you. You don’t deserve it, either do I, but God loves you so much He wants to save you for all eternity, and empower you to live for Him, starting right now.

 

This Christmas you face a choice… go your own way, or turn to Jesus. Stumble in this dark world or come into the light? Give Him the flick, or give Him your life? There are consequences to every decision. What will you do?

 

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,

 

If you come to Jesus, you receive life, and your children are led into the light. Yes, you can save generations by making the right decision now.

00:0000:00

Matt Prater shares his life and wisdom

December 11, 2017

Matt is the Senior Pastor of New Hope Church in Brisbane, and his church is unique in that it provides new hope to many homeless and street people, feeding them each week and sharing the good news about Jesus Christ at every opportunity.

 

But Matt Prater is known for more than this.  He appears every week on Vision radio, a dynamic Christian radio which brings incredible teaching and encouragement to thousands of Aussies across the country, through 702 radio stations.  His exciting interviews and laid back style has touched the hearts of thousands of listeners from all walks of life, and Matt is certainly someone who is worth listening to.

 

Here's a little about his background...  From Matt Prater himself (and who else is best qualified to tell you about his life?

Carol and I were married on May 17, 2003. I have three children: Lydia, Joshua and Grace. I was brought up in the Anglican church in Coffs Harbour until I was 12. I then attended a charismatic Baptist church for a few years, and answered an altar call as a 15 year old at a Wesleyan Methodist youth camp. I became born-again and also filled out a card pledging to work in full-time ministry. I started my first Christian radio show on the local secular radio station, and lead a Wesleyan Methodist youth group and high school outreach until I finished school at 18. I was then approached by the local C3 Church Pastor and offered a position as Youth Pastor. The church paid for me to go to Bible College for a year in Sydney. I studied under Pastor Phil Pringle and received a Diploma in Creative Arts majoring in drama and singing.

I then moved back to C3 Church in Coffs and pioneered a youth group for three years, ran a church theatre company, worked at the local radio station selling advertising to pay the bills, and continued my radio show. I then served as Youth Pastor for 3 years at the church I was raised in, a charismatic Baptist Church in Coffs Harbour. During that time I continued Bible College via correspondence.

I then moved to Brisbane, and worked for a company selling websites. During that time the company that employed me went into liquidation. I felt like Job where everything was taken away. But in that valley, I saw the Lord more clearly than ever. I attended Vineyard church Pine Rivers. I was running Alpha courses, preaching & served as Treasurer for a season.

Carol was brought up in Brisbane in the Methodist and Uniting Church. She stopped attending in her late teens and spent some years in the world. She has worked in management positions in a large multi-national company and one of Australia’s two telecommunications companies. After wandering away from the Lord Carol returned to church at the age of 26. She returned to the Lord and worked through areas of her past that needed healing. She spent ten years at the Vineyard church since it was a church plant and served in areas of child care, greeting and babysitting. She ran several Alpha courses and led many to the Lord through the Alpha course.

In that time, I also was invited to preach the gospel to high school kids and speak at business and church functions quite regularly. I am a passionate evangelist. Carol and I also ran very successful Alpha courses at the radio station and saw a few come to the Lord.

I would ring Pastor Phil at New Hope Brisbane and say, “I’m sending some people to your church on Sunday. They live too far away from my church, can you look after them?” I also referred a lot of my friends and clients to New Hope. We had been to the launch of New Hope Brisbane and loved it, but felt God wanted us to keep serving at our home church. We would pray and ask the Lord regularly about joining New Hope Brisbane. In October 2006, I felt the Lord say, “Do an evangelistic work in the City.” So after much prayer and discussion we left the Vineyard Church with the blessing of the pastor, who had the church lay hands on us and bless us to do a new work for the Lord in Brisbane.

I had always felt called to be a pastor. I had felt the Lord was calling me to bear much fruit. I launched a radio show called History Makers, interviewing successful people about their faith. It is now played weekly on over 600 Australian stations, and in NZ the UK and U.S.

I got involved in the management team at New Hope Brisbane in the area of community outreach. I love the heart of the church, the preaching style, worship, drama and multimedia. And being a young, vibrant, growing church, we feel right at home.

When I called Carol and told her about the opportunity to serve the Lord at New Hope Brisbane she spent several days praying and crying, seeking the Lord for a confirmation, that this would be the right time for me to take on the role of Senior Pastor. We were watching the Glorify DVD from New Hope Oahu and she felt like we weren’t worthy, and she felt the Lord say that “he is worthy, and he makes us worthy.” She also watched a sermon from Hillsong’s Brian Houston, and he preached on indifference using the scripture about the man who was plowing, that he should never look back. She felt a confirmation that God was saying, “Now is the time!”

Since I was first asked to pray about becoming Senior Pastor at New Hope Brisbane I have had a lot of confirmation and affirmation from friends and family. We feel like everything the Lord has taken us through has prepared us to pastor at New Hope Brisbane. I love to preach, and evangelize, I love the creative arts and I have an entrepreneurial spirit. Most of all, I feel that the Lord has given me a shepherd’s heart to love and serve the people of Brisbane. I believe that he is going to do a great and mighty work through the people of New Hope Brisbane, and my prayer is the same as that of Isaiah “Here am I, send me.”  

So settle back and listen to Pastor Matt Prater

00:0000:00

Peace on Earth, or Pieces on Earth?

December 4, 2017

It is nearly Christmas. Soon you will see chubby old men in red suits, pine trees covered in fake snow and occasionally a manger scene with the caption “Peace on Earth”. As we lead into the holiday season, I want to examine what this caption is really talking about, because most people would suggest that seeing Peace on earth for mankind is something of a false hope.

 

Luke 2:10-15 (ESV Strong's)

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

 

 

WHAT PEACE?

 

 

As human beings, it seems we know nothing about peace at all!

 

Over the past 3,400 years of human history, there have only been a reported 268 years of peace. In the twentieth century alone more than 105 million people have been killed in wars, and even as we speak today men, women and children are losing their lives in conflicts across the globe, many of which are so mundane they fail to rate a mention in our news.

 

Mankind loves conflict. Just look at families! When the Bible says Peace on earth, what on earth is it talking about?

 

 

PIECES ON EARTH, NOT PEACE ON EARTH

 

 

We live in a fallen world, where we talk often about peace but never obtain it. We strive for peace, but only ever grasp at the illusion of peace, like a mirage where the closer we get to peace, the further away it actually seems.

 

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain visited Munich in 1938 to meet with Hitler, who was continually posturing towards war by taking land from surrounding countries like Czechoslovakia. He was given an assurance that no more demands would be made, and he returned to Britain holding aloft the written assurance and proclaiming “Peace in our time.” A year later, the largest and most devastating war in human history erupted… Peace was never further away!

 

Even today Peace is illusive. I remember watching the wall come down in Berlin, seeing the demise of Communism and thinking, “Now we will have peace.” The Cold War was over, but enter militant Islam and the war on terror replaces it. And here’s the joke… Islam actually means peace, but I have never seen a less peace loving crowd than Islamists!

 

We don’t have peace on earth, we have pieces!  Let’a look at the passage

 

Luke 2:14 (KJV Strong's)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

The KJV, which some believe is the true translation, gets this very, confusingly wrong. It implies that peace and good will is proclaimed to all men, but this is not the meaning of the passage.

 

Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

This passage is proclaiming peace to those with whom He (God) is well pleased. The peace that the angels offer isn’t for everyone, it is only for those with whom God is please, those who have received Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Saviour.

 

We live in an evil world, controlled by evil people, so there cannot and will never be Peace on earth for all men until Jesus returns.

 

When these words were spoken by the angels to the shepherds, Roman Peace (Pax Romana) had been in effect since 27 BC. Prior to this, the Romans had invaded countries, slaughtered some people, enslaved the rest and declared peace! But the absence of war does not guarantee peace.

 

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.”

 

The Jewish word shalom (peace) means much more than a truce in the battles of life. It means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, and completeness. It has to do more with character than circumstances, and it is more about inner peace than the absence of external conflict. Life at this time was difficult, just as it is today. Taxes were high, unemployment was high, morals were slipping lower, and the military state was in control. Roman law, Greek philosophy, and even Jewish religion could not meet the needs of men’s hearts. So, God sent His Son!

 

I WANT A PEACE OF IT!

 

Look at our society today. There is war across the globe, but there is war here in our society as well.

 

We face a war against morality, where militant gay activists have just won a battle. It’s a war against the sexes, it’s a war against our children. There’s no peace here. Those of us who hold to God’s view of marriage and the family are attacked constantly, but even among the LGBT community, is there peace?

 

According to their own figures, and even with the media totally on their side, gay young people are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide, and transgenders are 11 times more likely. Almost half of transgenders attempt suicide, whether they make the transition or not, so you cannot tell me that these folk have peace. They proclaim their sexual freedom, but inside they are torn to pieces by conflict, guilt and shame.

 

Families are torn apart more than ever before… that’s not Peace is it? Unions and employers bicker, husbands and wife’s fight, kids and parents argue… there is no peace in our society, even at Christmas!

 

And Advertising screams at us all the time, “Buy this, get this, do this,” but none of it gives a feeling of peace that lasts. You might have the most wonderful holiday, and you still have to come home to reality, right?

 

The way to inner peace is not demanding and getting your own way! One of life’s great paradoxes is that more you fight, the more you claw and scratch, the more you demand, the less peace you get.

 

Isaiah 48:22 (ESV)

“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

 

In the absence of God, if you do not know Jesus, there is no peace! I didn’t say it, God says it. And if you look around at this world this Christmas, you can verify that it is 100% true.

 

But Paul writes this…

 

Romans 5:1 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

True peace, peace with God, and peace within ourselves. That’s what the angels proclaimed at the first Christmas… Find the promised child and you will find true peace. Look at what was predicted for the birth of Jesus…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (KJV Strong's)

 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:

and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,

The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

 

There’s that word again… Peace! In a world full of conflict, full of fear for ourselves, our nation, our futures, our country’s morals, our finances, our families, in a world full of selfishness and sin and fear, we can find peace. This Christmas, you can experience true peace, inner peace, lasting peace.

 

PEACE FROM WHAT?

 

 

Life is full of worries and anxieties. As Christmas approaches, do you feel anxious? Worried about finances, worried about family interaction, worried about being alone this Christmas?

 

People fear all kinds of things. When this is focussed and irrational, we call it a phobia. And phobias come in bewildering variety…

 

Xanthophobia- fear of the colour yellow

Turophobia- fear of cheese

Omphalophobia- fear of bellybuttons

Pogonophobia- fear of beards

Frigatriskaideaphobia- fear of long words (ironic)

Papa phobia- fear of the pope

Hylophobia- fear of trees and woods

Coulrophobia- fear of clowns (I think we can all relate to that), and here’s a modern one…

Nomophobia- fear of being without mobile phone coverage, and according to experts, more than half the people in our country suffer from this!

 

Some of you here fear many things as Christmas approaches.  Who among us does not have financial fear, worried that we have enough money to celebrate Christmas and get presents for the kids or grandkids. Many have anxiety about getting the family together and the inevitable conflicts.

 

John 14:27 (ESV Strong's)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

 

HOW CAN YOU FIND REAL PEACE THIS CHRISTMAS?

 

You won’t find peace in this world. Politicians cannot debate and give us peace, lawmakers cannot legislate Peace. Pop stars can’t give it to you by songs, actors cannot fool you into it, and even religion can’t create peace in your life (even if it calls itself peace while it’s blowing you up!).

 

Only Jesus, only a relationship with Him, only having His Holy Spirit living within you can give you peace. So let’s have a look at some of the anxieties you face this Christmas, and not what I say about peace, but what Jesus offers you this morning…

 

1.      PEACE IN LACK

 

If you are worried about finances this Christmas, and I number myself among these, then Jesus knows and understands.  We worry so much about acquiring and enjoying the things of this world, but worry is like a rocking horse… it keeps your mind occupied, but you don’t actually get anywhere.

 

Matthew 6:25-27 (ESV Strong's)

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

 

Stop, look at your life right now. Can you add even a single hour to it by worrying? Nope, no one can.  But I have discovered a great key towards stopping worry and anxiety about money and stuff in my life. And I’m not even that clever, because a few verses later, Jesus tells us the answer…

 

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

This is a Christian paradox that I have proven true many times… if you worry about, obsess about and strive for money, things, clothes and food, they seem to elude you. If you seek first His Kingdom, if you set your mind on loving and drawing close to God, these things seem to come along almost miraculously. And if they don’t, you don’t care because you are more concerned with God!

 

Paul wrote

 

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

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

 

You can have peace, true peace and contentment whether you have a lot or a little this Christmas!

 

2.      PEACE IN CONFLICT

 

For those worrying about family conflict, whatever is arrayed against you, you can have peace in the midst of all that conflict. Do not fear this Christmas, but listen to what the Lord says about conflict…

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

A sound mind is self control. How many of you know that, when the family gets together, it only takes one misplaced word and things escalate from there. Listen, some of you have to learn the power of shutting your mouth. The power of holding your tongue, no matter how offended you might be!

 

No matter what others are saying around you, you can choose to remain silent and not escalate the situation. This Christmas, if you are worried about conflict, try being self controlled and remaining silent. Let them rant and rage… if you focus on Christ you will be an island of peace is a sea of stressed out conflict!

 

 

3.      PEACE IN BEING OVERLOOKED

 

Every Christmas many of you feel overlooked. Overlooked by family, maybe kids who have their own family. Some of you are dealing with broken families, separation, and some of you here just feel desperately, desperately lonely, especially at Christmas time.

 

Psalms 68:5-6 (NIV-WS)

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

 

If you are feeling lonely and overlooked this Christmas, defender

Ess, fatherless, lonely, remember that, whatever your family situation, you have a church family who loves you, right here at Ignite.

 

Please don’t be consumed with worry and loneliness this Christmas. You are important, and you will not be overlooked forever.  God says,

 

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

 

So today, if you are lonely or overlooked, don’t look at those around you, look up at He who gave His life for you! And cast your anxieties on Him.

 

4.      PEACE IN PAIN

 

Hurt people hurt people, and if you are in pain, or close to someone who is, chances are you’ve been tempted to or have already blamed God and attacked others around you.  I’ve seen people struggling with health problems, or dealing with separation and broken relationships, blame God, when it is His expressed desire to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Pain, hurt, sickness and separation are not God’s fault. The devil and man’s sinful nature are responsible for all the evil and pain you see around you. Sometimes God allows this to happen, but He always has a greater plan to build your life and your character.

 

But this Christmas, how can you be at peace, even in physical or psychological pain?

 

Psalms 34:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

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

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

 

Turn to Jesus this Christmas and allow Him to save your crushed spirit. Though you may have many afflictions, God can be relied upon to deliver you from all of them, so you can have perfect peace even in pain and suffering this Christmas. Trust Him, and take your eyes off the pain!

 

 

5.      PEACE IN UNEXPLAINED FEAR

 

 

Some of us only ever feel fear when we think of Christmas, not peace!  Sometimes we are overwhelmed by worry, and we are not even sure what it is that’s causing it!

 

When Franklin D Roosevelt came to power in 1933, he faced the depths of the Great Depression. In his inaugural speech, he said these words… “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and this is the very nature of the fears and anxiety that plagues us this and every Christmas.

 

Psalms 91:5-7 (ESV Strong's)

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

 

If you feel like you are fearful of just about everything, maybe you’re not even sure why you fear, then you need to come before the Lord in prayer and ask Him to conquer the fears and anxieties and surround you with peace…

 

HOW TO FIND PEACE IN YOUR HEART AND MIND

 

Peace is as illusive for us to find in our own heads as it is to find it out there in the world. It is like chasing a rainbow… if there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the closer you get, the further it seems to be away.

 

So this Christmas, how can you find perfect peace no matter what the holiday season brings?

 

Picture this… it’s late at night, you are worried about tomorrow’s troubles, you can’t sleep. You try to still your mind, but it races at 100 miles an hour.

 

Does this ever happen to you?  You know that 90% of what you worry about never even occurs, but you cannot tell your brain that, right?

 

1.      PRAY

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

So step 1 is to pray, when you are worried and anxious, take your eyes off the circumstances and place them firmly in Jesus. Praying is just talking to God, but when you start to pray, when you confess your worries (because after all, they are sin), and when you hand the whole situation over to God, you can experience perfect peace flooding your soul.

 

2.      READ

 

The very next verse in Philippians shows you how to obtain this perfect peace. It’s not by watching TV, it’s not by taking medication.  The peace that actually guards your hearts and minds and protects you against worry and anxiety…

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

If you read His Word, if you meditate on all those things. You begin to think about what it says. Then you take your eyes off the circumstances and place them on Christ, and you will experience peace. Reading the Bible every day slowly but surely changes how you think, speak and behave. Having Scripture in your heart guards it against attack, and allows peace to settle.

 

It sets your mind on God, and when you turn your eyes upon Him, everything around you grows strangely dim.

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

How can you trust someone you do not know? If some guy in the street asks me for $50, I’m likely to say no. If my wife asks me, I’m likely, indeed compelled to say yes. What’s the difference? One I know and trust, the other is unknown.

 

Read God’s Word and get to know Him, and peace will flow through you this Christmas.

 

3.      FELLOWSHIP

 

When we join our hearts together, there is a supernatural strength. That is what Church is about. It’s not about singing, preaching or raising money, it is about worshipping together and supporting one another.

 

People often say to me, “I love Jesus but hate Church.” I understand this , but they are missing out on a level of faith and peace you just cannot find by yourself. God made us to become His body, joined together. So this Christmas, don’t hate Church, just find the right one because your peace will be increased if you do.

 

 

People often think Church is about a great experience, and large churches have lights, smoke machines and world class entertainment. You can attend, sneak out afterwards and not have to do anything. But that’s Christian entertainment, folks, not Church. Church is about being connected, not being a consumer!

 

But what many people today really need is not a great experience , they need a family of believers who stand with them. The believer is encouraged to put on the full armour of God…

 

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

 

The shield Paul has in mind is a Roman shield, which was not used by itself but with other soldiers, forming a wall of shields. Your faith can protect you a little when you are isolated and by yourself, but when joined with others in the church you have some serious protection from the enemies flaming darts.

 

PEACE, MAN, PEACE

 

 

So this Christmas, the world cannot offer you peace, but God can. You can let the peace which passes understanding guard your heart and your mind right now.

 

But you must understand this… The peace of God is a gift; it is not something we can manipulate and it’s not something we can preorder from a catalogue or a website, because it is the fruit of being one with Him.  It is the result of letting go and letting God control and worry about what is happening in your life.

 

When our relationship with Jesus is strong and adversity strikes, we do not have to fall apart or give in to worry and anxiety. We can choose, and notice that it is a choice, we can choose to live in the steadfast and rock solid confidence of His love, His wisdom, His power, and His provision.

 

This is the basis of His unshakable peace—not that we are capable of controlling circumstances, but that His help is ever-present and perfect to deliver us in every challenge we face. True peace is inner peace with God, regardless of the circumstances, and even in war we can be at peace.

 

So this Christmas, let not your heart be troubled. Let the peace of God flood your life. 

 

If you are dreading something about this Christmas, if you have fear, anxiety, worry or anything else, this is you moment to have us stand with you and pray for peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased.

 

But if you don’t think God is pleased with you, if you don’t know Him or if you have been running from Him, or ignoring a Him, then we need to solve that first.  If you are far from God, or have never asked Him into your life, this is your moment

00:0000:00

Lessons from the Lamps 4- False Prophecy

November 27, 2017

I want to continue the series I have been doing looking at the seven churches in the book of Revelation. So far we’ve seen Christ address Ephesus where He talked about losing your first love, Smyrna where He commended them for enduring suffering with patience, and Pergamum where Jesus demanded they turn away from false teaching.

 

The next church is similar to the last, and because it has the longest discourse, I am going to concentrate on a few specific areas today, relevant to us as modern Christians.

 

 

Revelation 2:19-24 (ESV Strong's)

“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.

 

We could pursue a number of ideas here, but surprisingly today, I want to explore 2 aspects of the passage… tolerating and the question of prophecy in the Church. Is it still valid today, if so, how do we pick the false prophetic words from the real, and how can we as a Church encourage the true gift of prophecy in a way that is powerful makes sense and is not weird, screwy or bizarre? 

 

This is worth exploring, because as a pastor I have many prophetic words given to me by a variety of people. Many of them I know and trust. Some of them, I have very little reason to trust, or I have no idea who they are, yet apparently God has given them a word for me.

 

The so called gift of prophecy is often misused by people to manipulate a situation to get what they want.

 

But first, let’s talk briefly about tolerance…

 

TOLERANCE- WHEN DOING NOTHING IS DOING SOMETHING

 

The first thing that strikes me about this passage is verse 19, where Jesus says that He say this against them, that they tolerate this evil woman Jezebel. So before we look at her, and prophets in general, make sure you see the big picture… this Church is not bad, it is not cold, it is not backsliding, in fact half of the Church is commended. The big issue is that they tolerate evil.

 

This has never been more evident in the church in Australia than right now. In the recent vote, I was not surprised by militant gay people wanting to hijack the word marriage, I was not even surprised by the incredibly biased media in this country. But I was stunned that Christian churches came out in support of what is clearly a non Biblical idea.

 

Edmund Burton once famously said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And he was right!

 

Some church leaders actually believe that this vote was about giving the poor homosexual community a fair go. Problem is, to do this they are prepared to throw out Romans 1:24,26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:9-10 plus numerous references throughout the OT and just use John 3:16, For God so loved the world.

 

I’m not mad that the no vote lost, I expected it. I’m not going to let my head drop because the country made a bad choice, because I see this not as a disaster, but as the greatest opportunity for the Church of God to stand tall and proclaim truth and shine when all around is dark!  I’m believing that the persecution we now face will see revival in this nation.

 

But what I am most upset about is the compromise from church leaders in the name of peace and tolerance!  Listen, if we as believers are actually going to make a difference, we have to stand for what is Biblical and right, and never waver or compromise…

 

1 Peter 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 

So let me say it again: I do not believe, regardless of what they legislate, that same sex marriage is a marriage in the sight of God. I also believe, regardless of what the media might say, that God created us male and female and He does not make mistakes. You can add bits, you can chop bits off, but at the end of the day you are XX or XY.

 

However, I also believe that God loves gays and transgenders, and therefore I also will love them. I don’t agree, but we need to separate agreement and unconditional love. I have gay friends, I love them but I don’t agree with them. I have transgendering people I know, my love for them is unconditional, but I do not agree with them.

 

The Church in Australia is under the secular spotlight like never before, and some of our brothers believe compromise is the way to go.  You might fashion a social argument for this action, but not a Biblical one! If you believe God, and believe in what we have always known as the family, the answer to the greatest social attack in our history is not to compromise and tolerate sin for the sake of popularity or public opinion.

 

The only thing standing between Australia and total disaster and destruction is those who choose to stand in the gap for their people.  We must never compromise in loving gay and transgender friends, but we must also never compromise on the truth.

 

Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Let judgment start with the house of God, and let God find more than one to stand for what is right in this church!  

 

YOU JEZEBEL!

 

 

So while Christ commended this church for their love, faith and service, and also their patient endurance, He had some scathing things to say.

 

Thyatira was 30 miles inland from Pergamum, and was not a city as such but a military outpost, guarding a main road. However, it was famous for wool and dyes, and had the same set up with pagan guilds. Remember, if Christians did not acknowledge Caesar as Lord, they were excluded from the guilds and therefore could not make a living.

 

These believers were asked to count the cost of calling Jesus Lord, and it cost them in many ways, financially especially. They stood firm on this big issue, but look what Jesus says to them…

 

The crisis here in this church revolves around one particular lady, referred to here as Jezebel.

 

When we call someone a Jezebel, we are implying that they are using sex to lure men away from the right path, but this summation is only partially true. Jezebel, probably not her real name, was a self proclaimed prophetess, and this description of her is based on her namesake from the Old Testament, so let’s look back at her…

 

1 Kings 16:31 (ESV)

he (Ahab) took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.

 

From the first mention to the last, Jezebel was a nasty piece of work. She invited her husband and indeed the whole northern kingdom to leave worshipping God and start worshipping Baal, a demonic God. She was a murderess, and used sex and control to manipulate her weak husband Ahab and corrupt the entire country.  Even to the end, where we read…

 

1 Kings 21:25 (ESV)

There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

 

So when Jezebel is mentioned here, it harps back the the Jezebel of old, a scheming, cunning, evil woman who used sex and control to manipulate others, and called it prophecy and the voice of God.

 

The Thyatira church’s sin was not that they were evil, but that they tolerated evil! And they tolerated a false prophetic voice within their church. We have many prophetic people in our church, and I cannot think of one of the current crop who is a false prophet. But when you have a vibrant, alive, Spirit filled church like Ignite, sooner or later you will attract some crazies, so you would want to know that your pastor and leadership are vigilant and on guard against falsity, right?

 

WHAT DOES FALSE PROPHECY LOOK LIKE?

 

 

Prophecy is simply delivering the words of God, and it can happen using visions, dreams, prophetic words or even actions.  I want to hear what the Lord is saying to us, don’t you?

 

There are very few gifts that have caused more pain, more separation and more destruction in churches that the gift of prophecy. Most pastors I know refuse to give prophetically gifted people any scope at all. So does this mean that we throw the whole gift away?

 

No! I believe that God has a prophetic voice to His people today. In fact, while some people might have a prophetic anointing, I also believe that all of us can hear God if we truly draw close to Him. Hearing the voice of God is not the exclusive domain of so called prophets, but many people with a prophetic gift bring great blessing to this church every week.

 

In Revelation, this self appointed prophetess, a woman equated with the OT Jezebel, used sex and the temptation to eat the wrong foods to control and manipulate they Church.

 

And today, I have witnessed many times so called prophets delivering messages that they claim are from God, but are really attempts to manipulate a situation to suit themselves. We must be on our guard, because if we genuinely want to hear God we are also open to this abuse.

 

These people have an opinion, but instead of stating their opinion, they use words like, “God told me, God showed me, and Thus saith the Lord.”  If someone claims God told them something, that negates your right of reply, because who are you to go against God.

 

The gift of prophecy is still valid today, but I want to have a look at what is genuine prophecy, what is the flesh and how we can still be blessed by this ministry while including safeguards against falsehood.

 

The gift of prophecy is a legitimate gift, and one of the possible gifts of the Spirit (201), so if we write this gift off entirely as many churches do, we miss out on tremendous blessing.  But how can we as believers pick the real deal?

 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV Strong's)

but test everything; hold fast what is good.

 

Here’s some of the warning signs to look for in people who claim to have a prophetic gift?

 

 

1.      THEY ATTRACT DEVOTED FOLLOWERS

 

In Revelation Jesus says…

 

Revelation 2:21-23 (ESV Strong's)

I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.

 

False prophets have children. They have a band of disciples and tend to gather people willing to be manipulated. It happened with Charles Manson and Jim Jones, and it also happens in the church today. I have seen prophets, genuine and otherwise, gather a travelling band of ardent believers that follow like groupies as they move around.

 

And most of the prophetic groupies I’ve ever seen are not an integral part of any local church. They are consumers, wanting the good things of God but giving nothing to the church or to others. Most are too busy chasing what they think is God to connect with a local group of believers, and actually be used by God to make a difference in this world!

 

 

2.      THEY CHASE SIGNS

 

Signs and wonders are often seen in Church. These things are not dead, for we serve a living God. Jesus and the apostles in Acts frequently saw signs and wonders, which included healings, miracles and other wonderful events.

 

Hebrews 2:4 (ESV Strong's)

while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

 

Prophetic words are often one of those miracles. But some prophetically inclined people come up with all sorts of so called signs and wonders, including gold dust or diamonds falling, coins sticking to walls, gold appearing in teeth or angel feathers falling from the sky.  Here’s my problem… none of this is in the Bible!

 

And what’s more, people search for and almost lust after these kinds of tacky signs thinking it’s God. Listen to what Jesus said when the religious leaders demanded a sign…

 

Matthew 12:38-39 (ESV Strong's)

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

 

And in case you don’t get this, Jesus later says this…

 

Mark 13:22 (ESV Strong's)

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

 

I believe in the miraculous and I too want to see signs and wonders in our church, but I would rather see salvation, healings and God’s provision than cheap parlour tricks!

 

 

3.      THEY CLAIM SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE

 

The early Church was plagued by Gnosticism, a heresy directly attacked by Jesus in the passage of Revelation we read. Gnostics claimed to have “secret revelation”, and if they were challenged by anybody their position was, “Well I can hear God and you can’t, so you need to listen to me!”

 

This is why Jesus said,

 

Revelation 2:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.

 

False prophets claim to have special, insider knowledge, that they hear God better and more accurately than others, and there is no humility here! I’ve had prophetic people claim to be the eyes and ears of God, I’ve had people tell me that I am not hearing God because I disagreed with what they think God is saying. This is simply humility, not servanthood and it’s not right!

 

If we listen we can all hear God, and the most effective prophecy I have received in this church has confirmed what God has already said to me personally, because I believe I can hear God too. Beware of people claiming secret or superior knowledge.  God says,

 

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV Strong's)

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

 

 

4.      THEY DISENGAGE FROM THE CHURCH

 

 

False prophets are rarely an integral part of any church. I have seen people who think they have a prophetic gift disengage from church, pull away from people, pull out of teams and become lone wolfs, answering only to themselves or a select group of like minded people.

 

1 Corinthians 14:3 (ESV Strong's)

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

 

If prophecy is a gift given to edify others in the church, how can you do this if you disengage from church?  True prophetic anointing serves the church, is submitted to the church and edifies the people in the Church, just like teaching, worship leading, helps to mercy all serve within the church.

 

 

5.      THEY ARE OFTEN STRANGE OR UNCONTROLLED

 

 

Prophetic people can be a little weird. Isaiah stripped off his clothes and wandered around naked, Jeremiah His his undies in a rock they later went back to retrieve them, Ezekiel lay on one side for 390 days and didn’t speak for years, and Hosea married a prostitute.

 

So prophetic people can often be odd, and hence they find it hard to fit in with regular folk.

 

New Testament prophecy is a lot less weird, but again we need to hold our behaviour up to a Biblical standard. Some people shake, wiggle and scream. I’m not saying it’s not God, but I am saying it is weird! Some prophetic people claim the Spirit wells up inside them and they cannot control their actions, but that goes directly against what Paul teaches…

 

1 Corinthians 14:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

 

The true prophetic voice today isn’t weird, it isn’t embarrassing, and it isn’t out of control… it’s encouraging, it serves the body and it is in order.

 

 

6.      THEY DO NOT BUILD UNITY

 

 

When this Jezebel like, self appointed prophetess rose up and started sprouting “Thus saith the Lord,” unity was destroyed in the church at Thyatira. False prophets divide and destroy churches, and fail to come under authority, often leading rebellions against the Church leadership.

 

Ephesians 4:11-13 (ESV Strong's)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

 

These gifts must promote unity, not divide and destroy what God is building. And in order to build unity, we cannot be lone wolves and a law unto ourselves, but we must work together to build the body of Christ.

 

 

MAXIMISING PROPHETS

 

When people pray every Sunday, prophetic words flow. So in this church, I want to see more and more people praying and encouraging others with words, visions and scripture.

 

This is not weird or strange, it’s normal Spirit filled living.

 

How can we develop the true prophetic gift in our church?

 

1.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST HAVE OPPORTUNITIES

 

In this church, we are having worship services starting next year where people are going to be able to pray and prophesy in the service.  But please don’t think you can show up every so often and get a public platform to speak to this church. We have prayer groups, we have pre service prayer, and if you’re not part of the team, you are missing opportunities to exercise the gift you think you have, and to have others correct and shape this gift in your life.

 

2.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST BE ENCOURAGING

 

1 Corinthians 14:12 (ESV Strong's)

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

 

NT prophecy must be encouraging, for the building up of the church. If someone has what they think is directive or corrective prophecy, it must be first submitted to the church leadership. So if you think God is rebuking someone or you are telling people God wants them to do something specific, please write the vision down and submit it to the leadership.

 

I’ve heard of people prophesying that men should leave their wives, or that they should sell property, and the result has been broken homes and thousands of dollars loss.

 

 

3.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY

 

In this church, we don’t want lone wolves spreading destruction and disunity. Prophecy should be encouraging.  But all prophetic ministry should be part of the church, and subject to the leaders of Ignite. What I preach is subject to authority, so should our prophetic ministries.

 

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.

 

As a leadership, we have put in place a structure that we believe will safeguard against false prophets. So beware anyone who wants to prophesy, but does not want to be a part of the church or come under the authority of the Church.

 

 

4.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST GROW TRUST AND REPUTATION

 

Matthew 7:16 (ESV Strong's)

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

 

Beware of someone claiming the gifts of the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit. Prophetic people must live godly lives, and in this church they must build a reputation of reliable and anointed prophetic ministry before we will allow them greater scope to prophesy. There at many people here whose prophetic voice I listen to because they have a proven track record. They are part of our church family and have walked the walk.

 

 

 

5.      PROPHETIC PEOPLE MUST KNOW AND USE THE WORD OF GOD

 

If prophecy is speaking the words of God, what is the purest form of prophecy? Scripture.

 

So if you want to grow in this ministry, you had better start reading, studying, memorising and meditating on God’s Word. If I want guidance in my life, or in this church, I want Scripture!

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

If you want to develop a prophetic gift, you must centre it on the Word of God. And if you don’t know the Bible, you cannot really get to know God. And if you don’t know God, how can you claim to speak His words? It’s hard work building a prophetic ministry, but if you have The Bible in your heart watch how God uses that to bless others around you!

 

 

GOD SPEAKS TODAY

 

 

We are in the last days, and God is speaking! He speaks through His Word, and He also speaks to us through songs, preaching, circumstances and prophetic things like visions, dreams and words.

 

Never make an important decision based on one solo source of guidance. The great news is that we can all hear Him in our lives, even if we don’t have this gift.

 

I want to encourage you to mot wait for someone else to hear God for you, but press into Him and listen for yourself. Then let others confirm it.

 

 

Joel 2:28-29 (ESV Strong's)

 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.

Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

 

The church at Thyatira tolerated the wrong things, and the wrong person. We must as believers never compromise the Word of God, and the unity of the Spirit, because these are the foundations of a strong, powerful church.

 

We need prophetic people in Ignite, but we need the right ones. People who are humble, people who serve, people who encourage, people who promote unity. With the logos or written Word of God and the Rhema or spoken, prophetic Word, Ignite can and will grow to impact this area for Christ.

 

Today some of you face decisions. Some of you face scary or difficult times. Some of you need to hear the Lord clearly.

 

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.

 

Seek the Lord now, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

If you’re down, discouraged, confused or at a crossroad in life, get enough courage to step forward and seek God now.

00:0000:00

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

 

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.

 

THE MAKING OF A MASTERPIECE?

 

 

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.

 

GOD SEES THE POTENTIAL

 

 

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?

 

 

1.      GOD USES WHO YOU ARE

 

 

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!

 

 

2.      GOD USES THE RIGHT INSTRUMENTS

 

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?

 

A.     THE SHOVEL

 

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.”

 

B.      THE MALLET

 

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.

 

C.      THE WHEEL

 

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.

 

 

3.      GOD REMAKES WHAT IS MALFORMED

 

 

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.

 

YOU NEED TO TRUST THE MASTER

 

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?

 

PLACE YOURSELF IN THE MASTER’S HANDS

 

 

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.

 

00:0000:00

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...

00:0000:00

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.’

 

SATAN’S HANGOUT

 

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!

 

A FEW THINGS AGAINST YOU…

 

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…

 

BALAAM.. A PROPHET FOR PROFIT

 

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!

 

BALAAM… IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…

 

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.

 

BALAAM… MAKES AN ASS OF HIMSELF

 

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…

 

BALAAM’S END GAME

 

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.

 

STANDING STRONG BUT WITH SECRET SINS  

 

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.

 

THE LITTLE FOXES, THE LITTLE COMPROMISES

 

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.

 

CONQUERING THE 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!

 

STAY ON TARGET

 

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.

 

STAY ON COURSE DAILY

 

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.

00:0000:00