Choices 1- You are Free to Choose

April 16, 2018

 

YOU ARE FREE TO CHOOSE

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Proverbs 14:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Romans 5:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

CHARGE IT!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Romans 14:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

CHOOSE LIFE

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF CHOICE

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

DISCERNING THE SOURCE… THE NIKE TEST

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

7 STEPS TO MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

1.      PRAY

 

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

 

Philippians 4:6 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

2.      STUDY THE WORD

 

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

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

3.      STEP BACK

 

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

 

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

 

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

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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

 

4.      LOOK BACK

 

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

 

Deuteronomy 9:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

5.      LOOK AHEAD

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

6.      LOOK TO OTHERS

 

Proverbs 15:22 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Chronicles 10:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

7.      LOOK TO GOD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

CHOOSE WITH EYES WIDE OPEN

 

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

 

James 1:5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Ask God, He won’t let you down!

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUEL

 

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Matthew 26:26 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

I know the kind of things that hold you back…

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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The Holy Spirit and You- Ps Keith Heale

April 9, 2018

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

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The Hope of Easter

April 2, 2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

We live seemingly in a world without hope.

 

HOPE DEFERRED

 

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

 

The Bible says,

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WHEN HOPE DIES

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Job 17:11,15

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

THE EMPTY TOMB

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 15:17-20

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Folder facecloth

 

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

 

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

 

HOPE IS ALIVE

 

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

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

 

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

Hebrews 10:23

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

Hebrews 6:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A.     ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BURDEN

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

B.      BRING YOUR BURDEN TO JESUS

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

C.      CONFESS DOUBT AS SIN

 

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

 

James 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

D.     DELIGHT IN THE LORD

 

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

 

Psalms 20:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

Psalms 37:4 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

E.      ETERNAL LIFE STARTS NOW!

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Galatians 2:20 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DEATH IS DEAD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 15:55 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Missionary coming home

THE GREAT ESCAPE

 

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

 

Titus 1:2

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

 

And Billy Graham gave his Bible to Steve McQueen.

 

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

 

Titus 1:2

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

 

POWER TO LIVE RIGHT NOW!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Colossians 1:27

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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The Agony of Good Friday

April 2, 2018

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

 

WHY DID WE NEED A GOOD FRIDAY?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

1.      THE AGONY OF CHOICE

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

2.      THE AGONY OF BETRAYAL

 

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

 

Mark 14:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

3.      THE AGONY OF FALSE ACCUSATION

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

4.      THE AGONY OF ATTACK

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

5.      THE AGONY OF PERSEVERANCE

 

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

 

Luke 22:42 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

6.      THE AGONY OF CRUCIFIXION

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jesus underwent physical agony, excruciating physical agony for you.

 

7.      THE AGONY OF SEPARATION

 

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

Matthew 27:46

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then it says this…

Matthew 27:50

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

 

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

 

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

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

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

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Revelation 22:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Peter 5:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

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Spiritual Success 5- Shining and Sharing

March 26, 2018

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

 

WE ARE CHRIST’S BILLBOARDS

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO SHINE

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

https://www.facebook.com/ignitechristianchurch

 

 

DON’T BE THE DEAD SEA

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

SHARING YOUR FAITH EFFECTIVELY

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

1.      CONNECT WITH PEOPLE

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

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

 

 

2.      KNOW THE WORD

 

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

 

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

 

Isaiah 55:11

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

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

 

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

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

3.      BE CHRIST CENTRED AND CLEAR

 

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

 

Titus 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

4.      CALL THEM TO REPENTANCE

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

5.      ASK THE QUESTION WHEN YOU SHARE YOUR FAITH …

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

BE A LINK IN A CHAIN

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

WHOSE LINE  IS IT ANYWAY?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Let me finish with 2 verses we have already used…

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

THE SHINING AND SHARING CHALLENGE

 

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

 

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

00:0000:00

Spiritual Success 5- Giving

March 19, 2018

We’ve been looking at the keys to spiritual success and discovered that the first was reading the Bible daily, the second was prayer and the third was being part of an on fire Church like Ignite. The fourth I believe will challenge us all.

 

What we are talking about here is spiritual maturity, but remember age is compulsory while maturity is optional.

 

YOU CAN’T STAY A BABY!

 

I’m sure you’ll agree, babies are cute. Kids are cute too, but no one wants them to stay as kids forever.

 

Hebrews 5:12-14 (ESV Strong's)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

 

Just because you’ve been in and around Church for years, doesn’t mean you are mature! Many have been in the church for years but still act like children, immature and needy!

 

Our granddaughter Kaileigh is a delight to us. She is little, cute, Austro-Malaysian and demanding. She orders Fiona and I around like personal slaves. At 2, it’s kind of cute. At 22 it won’t be cute at all!

 

Let me point out what babies and little kids are like, and you might see some parallels with Christian maturity…

 

1.      CHILDREN ARE FICKLE

 

Children can flip from laughing to crying in a heartbeat. Kaileigh can be happy and excited because she is watching the Lion King, then in 1 second be a screaming, blubbering mess because she has to go home.

 

Young Christians can be like this… emotional, experiencing highs and lows, changing opinions and views in a millisecond, often based on someone else’s opinion in a sermon, a book or on Facebook. They do not have the depth of knowledge of the Bible, so they are often not sure of God’s direction or standards.

 

Ephesians 4:14 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Immature Christians change opinions, even change churches, based on emotions or limited understanding. They are tossed around by every wind of doctrine, every cunning argument and can be at the mercy of abusive or ungodly leaders. We all start there, but we don’t want to end there!

 

2.      CHILDREN LACK WILLPOWER

 

When a child wants something, they want it all and they want it now! We are rediscovering that a 2 year old doesn’t do “wait” too well. Delayed gratification comes with maturity.

 

And young believers are the same. They want to grow and become powerful in the Lord, they want positive answers to all their prayers, and they don’t like to wait. Discipline… that’s a dirty word to many!

 

But as we have seen, anything worthwhile in the Lord, and indeed in life, takes time to grow and develop. Throw seed in the ground, and you have to wait for ages before you even see a tiny shoot, let alone fruits and flowers.

 

James 5:7 (ESV Strong's)

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

 

The early rains gives your crop the start it needs, but the latter rains is what causes the bountiful harvest. Mature Christians are impatient, but with maturity you learn to trust God for His results, His latter rains and consequently you see a more abundant harvest.

 

3.      CHILDREN DESIRE NEW AND EXCITING THINGS

 

You know the drill… they see it in an ad, and all they can do is nag and talk about this new toy. Once they have it, they want some other new toy, right? It’s never ending for parents. Paw Patrol gets replaced by Lion King, then Transformers or Barbies or Dinosaurs!

 

Many Christians are like this too. They find novelty very appealing. They follow the latest Christian speaker, they chase flashy miracles. We’ve had these folk pass through often, but here at Ignite they get solid teaching, not the big, flashy performance, so they move on. I know dozens of these Christians, and they never grow beyond the next experience.

 

Miracles are great, moves of the Spirit are awesome, but the Word of God is what sees long, sustained growth!

 

In the gospels Jesus called those who were seeking signs wicked and adulterous. When Paul went to Athens, the Athenians were described like this…

 

Acts 17:21 (ESV Strong's)

Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

 

I’m all for God doing something new, exciting and miraculous. We’ve seen it many times here, but seeing miraculous signs does not make you spiritually mature or successful. If you seek signs and wonders more than you seek God, it makes you infantile, fickle and childish in your faith.

 

4.      CHILDREN ARE SELFISH

 

As cute as they are, kids are totally selfish. It’s all about them, and no one else. A baby might be cute, but their world view is the only thing in existence. And when they want milk, or food, or nothing else, they demand immediate satisfaction.

 

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

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

 

Mature people think about others, and do not just demand their own way constantly. I remember a quote from the movie “Beaches”, where Bette Miller, after meeting her long lost friend again says this… “Anyway, enough about me, let’s talk about you… what do you think about me?”

 

If you are, or if you have to live with a person who constantly demands their own way in everything, then this is not spiritual maturity, this is childishness!

 

So if we want to be mature, if we want to grow strong and not be a selfish, childish Christian, what is this next step towards spiritual success in your life? It is one simple word… giving.

 

LIVING FOR GIVING

 

Now I know some of you are thinking, “Oh no! Pastor Darin needs money!” Nope, I’m don’t need money, and while we will touch on money, I’m not going to start talking about it. You have more to give than that.

 

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

 

Giving is not just about money, it’s about giving of yourself. It’s about serving, and this next step towards spiritual maturity can grow you rapidly and strongly in Christ.

 

To become mature, we have to grow past the consumerism of modern Christians. So many go from church to church to get something, but few go to church thinking, “What can I give!”

 

They might be seeking signs and wonders, they might be seeking a great performance, great worship, great preaching. But what they are not seeking is to become a selfless and generous giver of themselves!

 

Jesus Himself was a giver, giving of Himself constantly right up to giving His life for you. But we, frankly, are takers… we want the Lord to do what we pray and command Him to do. Oh, if we could only recognise that if we put Him first, if we seek Him first, all these other things we pray and strive and fight for come our way anyway.

 

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.

 

In Philippians 2 we read that Jesus did not grasp at greatness but made Himself a servant.

 

Mark 10:45 (ESV Strong's)

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Serving is simply giving of yourself, and when you give of yourself freely there is a special blessing.  People often ask me why, as a successful behaviour Optometrist, why have I given up time and quite a lot of money to become a pastor. The answer is simple… God asked me, and I want with all me heart to serve Him, and consequently to serve you.

 

STEPS TOWARDS GIVING OF YOURSELF

 

Many times we say, “Lord, I want to give you all of my life,” but we don’t… we hold back on some areas, especially areas we think might cost too much.  So how do you start giving to the Lord?

 

1.      IT STARTS WITH A CHOICE

 

Joshua 24:15 (ESV Strong's)

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

Joshua made a clear choice… I will serve the Lord. Giving of your time, skills and talents start with a decision… I will use these to serve the Lord.

 

As a young guy I knew I had a musical talent. I could play several instruments, and sing OK. I was in a band at school, and was going to run away and go in the road with them. Until my mum found out!

 

Most of my life I’ve had people compliment me on my musical skills, and ask me to join bands, etc. but early on I made the conscious decision to only use my talent to serve Jesus. This has seen me travel around the world and minister to hundreds of thousands of people. Not because I’m good, but because I made the decision to serve and give my talent to the Lord for His use.

 

2.      DISCOVER YOUR GIFTS

 

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV Strong's)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:

 

Every one of you has gifts, even if you feel very ordinary. Spiritual gifts are freely given by God, and we can use the spiritual gifts He has given us to serve others in the church.

 

Some of you will not be sure of what your spiritual gifts are. If that’s you, please put aside an hour today after our family lunch to do 201, where you can discover what your gifts are.

 

3.      LEARN HOW TO GIVE

 

It is one thing to know what spiritual gifts you have, but it is entirely another to move into a place where you can actually use them.

 

1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV Strong's)

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

 

Spiritual gifts are not given to you for your benefit, but they are given to benefit the church and those around you. One of my concerns about folks who are drawn to large churches is that they have spiritual gifts but they mostly finish up as consumers. They go to church, they sit, they enjoy a great service, but they often don’t have a chance usually to serve and give and become part of the church body.

 

If you do 201, you not only discover your gifts, but you learn where you can use them to serve and bless others.

 

YOU CAN FIND A PLACE TO SERVE AT IGNITE

 

Ignite church has been designed to allow you to serve by doing what you love. That’s why people are so happy… we are all doing what we love, and operating in our gifting. Right from the start I made conscious decision to not put square pegs in round holes. You can fit square pegs in round hole, if you bash hard enough, but everyone gets hurt and damaged in the process!

 

Ephesians 4:16 (ESV Strong's)

the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

 

Giving of your time, energy and skills here at Ignite build the church up, but also builds you up!

 

GIVING OF YOUR MONEY

 

Any discussion on giving has to include this one… money!

 

A man came to a pastor one time and told him he had made a commitment to tithe. He was a student and only earned $10,000 a year, so he gave $1,000.  The next year he got a great job and earned $100,000, so he gave $10,000 to the Church. His income skyrocketed and He then earned $1,000,000 in the year, so he had to tithe $100,000, so he came back to the pastor and begging him to ask God if he could be Let our of the covenant. The pastor knelt and prayed silently for a long time, and the man eventually asked, “Are you praying that God will let me out of my covenant?” “No” replied the minister, “I’m praying for God to reduce your income to the point where you are happy to tithe!”

 

Amy Carmichael said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” A sign of a truly mature believer is a generous spirit.

 

It has been well said that the last part of our body to be sanctified is the back pocket. Human beings are selfish, not generous by nature (as we see in babies and children). I love the way that this church is a generous Church. I try and be as generous as I can as often as I can, and I personally have seen the Lord perform amazing miracles of provision in my life.

 

WHOSE MONEY?

 

I remember going to McDonalds with one my kids and buying them a McHappy meal. It worked well… it made them McHappy! While they were eating, I reached across and pinched one of their chips, and they got really upset about it, and held the chips to their chest, telling me “These are mine!”

 

We can be just like that with God. Listen to what David said about giving…

 

1 Chronicles 29:14 (NIV-WS)

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

 

Everything you and I have, everything we own, everything in our bank account comes not from our work, our job, our pension, it really comes from God. It’s all His! He bought the French fries, and then we get mad when He asks us to give a small portion of them.

 

A preacher asked a farmer in his congregation, “If you had two hundred dollars, would you give one hundred of them to the Lord?”

“I would,” the farmer said.

“If you had two cows, would you give one of them to the Lord?”

“I would,” the farmer said again.

The preacher then asked, “If you had two pigs, would you give one of them to the Lord?”

“Now that isn’t fair,” said the farmer. “You know I have two pigs!”

 

We rarely speak about giving and money at this church, but buckle up because we need to do it now!

 

HOW TO GIVE GENEROUSLY

 

So given that it is all His, how can we give generously, and how much do we need to give. Notice how I phrased that? Human beings are always looking for a bargain. What’s the least we can give to get what we want?

 

Money is such an important topic that more than half the parables in the bible and over 2,000 verses concern money. But Jesus made it clear, it’s not the money God is interested in, it’s the hold it has on you. Remember the rich young ruler? They problem was not that he had money, the problem was that money had him!

 

Honestly, Jesus does not need your money. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. You are not helping Him out by giving what isn’t even yours really. As missionary Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

 

The Lord is not even worried about how much you give. I mean, the widow was commended even though she gave a small amount. What He is interested in is the heart of your giving!

 

Luke 12:34 (ESV Strong's)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

Your attitude to giving is a great measure of your spiritual maturity.

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

The Greek word for cheerful is hilaros, with literally means hilarious. Ever watched a funny movie and laughed so much more our sides ache? Can you imagine giving with so much hilarity that your sides ache?

 

1.      GIVING SHOULD BE A PRIORITY

 

Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

 

This is a promise with a condition. We need to give to the Lord first, not last, and He promises he will bless us beyond measure. Some people say I don’t have enough money spare so cannot afford to give, but frankly I cannot afford not to give. So I recommend that, if you want to be spiritually successful and blessed in every way, including financially, don’t give out of what you have left in the week, give the first fruits. Set money aside first, then spend the rest.trust me it works!

 

2.      GIVING SHOULD BE SACRIFICIAL

 

God doesn’t need or want your tips. Thanks God, you did a great job, here’s a tip! Again, He is not interested in your money. He is looking at your heart, the spirit behind your giving.

 

King David wanted to sacrifice to the Lord, and another guys offered to give him all he needed.

 

2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV Strong's)

But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

 

David wanted to give sacrificially, because He knew God was looking at his heart. In the same way, Jesus commended the widow in Luke 21 even though she gave only a small amount, because

 

Luke 21:4 (ESV Strong's)

they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

 

Sacrificial giving makes God sit up and take notice! He loves it, because it shows a devoted heart!

 

3.      GIVING SHOULD BE INVESTING

 

You can give to the Salvos, you can give to Lily House. You can give to a thousand causes, so why give to the church? I believe that Ignite is good soil, a great place to invest your giving…

 

Luke 8:15 (ESV Strong's)

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 

When I give I view it as an act of worship, but also as an investment. I expect a return. Honestly, I’m not worried about more money coming to me, I expect a return in souls, in lives turned around, homes restored, believers set on fire for Jesus! I could give anywhere, but here, I believe, is a good return on what I give.

 

As a pastor, I am paid far less than any other pastor I know. Everyone who works here is paid far less than they are worth, but we are happy to do this because we do it as unto the Lord. We don’t blow money on big flashy buildings. Yes, we may have to expand, but we are not going to spend lavishly but frugally. We are going to invest in reaching the community, kids church and anything we can that blesses the Lord.

 

4.      GIVING SHOULD BE TRUSTING

 

When you give, of your time, gifts or money, are you Tipping, tithing or trusting? Do you tip God a few dollars in when God has been good to you that week? Are you stuck in a legalistic thing where you fearfully give 10% worried that God’s blessing will leave you if you don’t? Or are you trusting, gifting generously wherever you can, whenever you can as the Lord directs?

 

Personally,I don’t give 10%. That’s the basic, minimal requirement. I choose to give more than the basic tithe, and I give generously at every point I can. And the Lord keeps bringing more and more money to us, because He sees my heart. 

 

I don’t give to get… that’s not the right heart! Fiona and I made a decision years ago to just give and give and give, and let the Lord sort out what comes our way. I believe and generous spirit is the heart God wants to see.

 

He sees your heart too… but what does He see. Does He see a generous giver, does He see someone who gives sacrificially of their money, time and talents? Or does he see a selfish person, giving the bare minimum to try and bargain with God for the maximum blessing?

 

Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;

another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,

and one who waters will himself be watered.

 

ARE YOU READY TO TRUST GOD?

 

Are you ready to trust God as you give Him your Life, your time, your gifts and talents and your money?

 

Let me leave you with a wonderful Biblical promise and threat… This speaks to all of us. It was originally given to the people of Israel who were giving not their best to God, but the sick, the lame , the dying, the worst of their flocks to God as an offering.

 

Malachi 3:8-11 (ESV Strong's)

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.

 

A generous spirit is a sign of spiritual success. If think Ignite is good soil, you can trust God as you give here, so please do. If you want to give of your time and spiritual gifts, come and do 201 today. You may not think you have much to give, but give the loaves and fishes of your life to Jesus and watch Him multiply them!

 

Ps David Yonggi Cho’s Church was on the point of bankruptcy and they called a prayer meeting .  Let me read from his account…

 

Seeing that only a miraculous intervention of God would deliver us from a catastrophe, I joined the intercessors at Prayer Mountain. One evening while we were meeting to pray on the ground floor of our unfinished church, several hundred joined me in prayer. An old woman walked slowly in my direction. As she approached the platform, I noticed that tears were filling her eyes. She bowed and said, “Pastor, I want to give these items to you so that you may sell them for a few pennies to help with our building fund.”

I looked down, and in her hands were an old rice bowl and a pair of chopsticks. I said to her, “Sister, I can’t take these necessities from you!”

“But, Pastor, I am an old woman. I have nothing of value to give to my Lord; yet, Jesus has graciously saved me. These items are the only things in the world I possess!” she exclaimed, tears now flowing freely down her wrinkled cheeks. “You must let me give these to Jesus. I can place my rice on old newspapers, and I can use my hands to feed myself. I know that I will die soon, so I don’t want to meet Jesus without giving Him something on this earth.” As she finished speaking, everyone there began to weep openly. The Holy Spirit’s presence filled the place, and we all began to pray in the Spirit.

A businessman in the back of the group was deeply moved and said, “Pastor Cho, I want to buy that rice bowl and chopsticks for one thousand dollars!” With that, everyone started to pledge their possessions. My wife and I sold our small home and gave the money to the church.  This spirit of giving saved us from financial ruin.

 

Some of you here feel like you have little to offer the Lord. Some have served before and been hurt.

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Spiritual Success 4- Fellowship

March 12, 2018

So far in this series on how to achieve true spiritual success, we have looked at reading the Word of God, and prayer. The third step involves a step that is to some is strangely controversial… fellowship.

 

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE… UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO!

 

There’s a famous song by Gerry and the Pacemakers, the theme of Liverpool football club, “You’ll never walk alone.” It revolves around the basic human need we all have of fellowship, camaraderie, friends we can talk to and connect with. Yet the question of Church fellowship is oddly controversial in this day and age, because almost every week I am meeting mature, godly wonderful Christians who explain to me why they love God but hate church, and prefer to walk alone!

 

A husband and wife were taking early one Sunday morning. The husband confessed that he hates Church and refuses to go. The wife demanded three good reasons…

 

He told her. “First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don’t want to go.”

“Well, honey”, she replied, “I have three good reasons why you should go,” his wife replied. “First, the congregation is warm. Second, there are a few people there who like you. And third, you are the pastor. So get dressed.”

 

David writes,

Psalm 122:1 (ESV Strong's)

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

 

Glad someone was glad. I get it. I’ve had many times, years even, when I wasn’t glad to go to church. We’ve all been bored by church or hurt by Christians, and many by pastors, somewhere in the past. I understand, because I too have been viciously attacked by so called men of God. I too have found Church laboured, painful, boring and not worth investing time into.

 

Rev Denny Brake once joked, “I don't know why some people change churches - what difference does it make which one you stay home from?”

 

But the third step to becoming spiritually successful is to be actively linked in to the right church. As we examine this today, please don’t think I am threatening you in any way. Ignite is full of people who have been hurt elsewhere, and this is specifically what I have prayed for. When I took the helm here, I prayed that God would use this church to draw hurting believers together, to have them become part of a church family that loves and supports them and to fan into fame and release the gifts they have to fulfil their lives!

 

 

WHY BOTHER WITH CHURCH?

 

Statistics now tell us that going to church once a month is considered a regular attender. They also suggest that on our Coast more than half of professed believers do not attend a church regularly. They love God but hate Church.

 

But here is the jump. Statistics, and my experience, tell us that those who attend regularly and get involved in Church grow in spiritual maturity and become more spiritually successful, while those who neglect Church stagnate and fail to grow in Christ the way they should. I believe we are better together. Church is not my idea, it’s God’s idea, and we as leaders ought to seek establish the churches He wants. The Bible says,

 

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.

 

You can be a Christian without going to church. You can be married and not live together, but it is not the normal thing. Most married people live together, and most Christians should go to church. This passage clearly commands that we must not neglect meeting together. Studies show that if you miss Church for more than a month, the odds are almost 2 to 1 that you won’t go for the next year.

 

 Yes, you can spend time in the Word at home, and yes you can pray by yourself. But there is something amazing, something special, something spiritual that happens when we get together. The Lord bestows a special blessing for unity, but how can we even have unity if one party is absent?

 

I’m this message I want to outline reasons why you should make every effort to come to church. Obviously, I’m preaching to the converted, because you are here already. If you have been hurt or turned off church elsewhere, please understand I am not shaming or accusing you, I understand, and I am offering the hand of fellowship and the pledge that I will do all in my power as a pastor to love, nurture and bless you.

 

So what does being part of a church family offer you, and why should we bother to meet together at all?

 

 

1.                   WE CAN WORSHIP TOGETHER

 

Worship is not the support act to the main event at church. It is a core reason why the church exists.

 

Something very special happens when we worship together in unity. Sure, you can put on a CD and sing at home or in the car, but when we gather together in unity there is a sense of awe and blessing. When we worship corporately there is a great sense of belonging, even if you don’t agree with everything that goes on in your church, you can still worship in unity.

 

Psalms 22:3 (ESV Strong's)

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

 

When we worship together in unity, there the Lord is enthroned. The Hebrew word for enthroned means several things, including inhabit, tarrying and marrying. When we praise the Lord together it is kind of like God marries in with us.

 

And let me also say, there is no set way in which we worship. Some raise their hands, some don’t. Some sing loudly, some don’t. Some praise God best with set songs, others like worship free form. Ignite is here to accommodate all styles of worship, and I am not going to force you to worship a certain way. When we worship together, the key ingredient I believe is unity. Unity means that we don’t criticise the way others worship, and we don’t force them to change to our way. Can you love the Lord and love each other more than you love getting your own way in worship?

 

1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV Strong's)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling;

 

We need to worship together without anger or quarrels. And I know we all worship differently, but we can still worship together, because unity is more important that you doing your thing your way!

 

That being said, I’m hoping we all grow together in our understanding and expression of worship. Who among us knows everything about worshipping God? Isn’t one of the great joys of church being able to live and journey and discover the truths of God together?

 

2.                   WE CAN LEARN FROM THE BIBLE TOGETHER

 

There is a trend today for churches to move away from Biblical teaching. Ignite will not be that sort of church, because the Word of God is central to everything we do. That’s why so many of us have pledged to read the Bible daily.

 

And when you come to church, I am promising to centre all our teaching on God’s Word. If it’s not in the Bible, it’s not happening at Ignite, and it’s that simple! I’m going to preach the Word, and I’m going to live the Word. Here’s what God commands me…

 

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

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

 

If you want church teaching to tickle your ears, not challenge you in any way and make you feel ok, find another church! I am sworn to proclaim the truth of God’s Word no matter the consequences. And I preach from what the Lord is showing me, not random stuff I am making up or some other guy’s message I read on the internet. In season, out of season, any season I will preach the Word of the Lord, like it or not!

 

And at the end of the day, you don’t want my opinion do you? You want God’s, right?

 

Some believe they can skip church and download a few good messages from YouTube or watch God TV. I have observed that people doing that tend to find preachers that, to quote the verse, “suit their passions.” Listening to recorded messages is fine, I encourage it, but as your pastor I have made a pledge to God to love you support you and stir your gifts into flame, ignite them if you will!

 

I know you can definitely find better preachers, better teachers and better sermons than mine out there online, but what you won’t find is someone who loves you and is called to pastor you like I am.

 

News flash… TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Brian’s Houston, Chuck Swindoll, as good as those preachers are, they don’t know you from Adam. They are not committed to your walk with Christ, your spiritual success, the release of your gifts… they don’t even know who you are! You cannot substitute recordings of famous preachers for a pastor who genuinely cares about you.

 

As your pastor, though my teaching and preaching might be limited next to those great leaders, I’m different because I am totally committed to seeing your life with Christ grow. If you want an advocate, if you want a pastor who cares about your life, I’m your guy! I take the calling of a shepherd very seriously.  This terrifies me so much that some time ago I started regularly praying this prayer…

 

1 Kings 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

 

I can’t be a proper leader for Ignite Christian Church, I don’t have the skills and ability. But God does, and I humbly rely on Him and His wisdom to direct this church. If I start preaching my own wisdom, if I cannot support what I’m teaching from the Bible, show me, because I need to preach God’s Word as much as you need to listen to God’s Word! Together we grow and learn through the years.

 

3.                   WE CAN FELLOWSHIP TOGETHER

 

Fellowship is a great strength we have here at Ignite. After church, everyone stays for ages, and when we have a need, scores of people support it in prayer and other ways.

 

Acts 2:42 (ESV Strong's)

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

 

The early Church understood fellowship, as they sold belongings and cared for each other, and they moved from house to house. They hung out, in other words, they fellowshipped.

 

Fellowship is not talking about football results or TV celebrities, it is talking about Jesus. It is praying for each other. It’s caring for each other. It is Dig In and connect groups and men’s and women’s groups. It’s growing closer as friends, learning to trust each other, stirring one another towards greatness in Christ. You can’t get this by yourself skipping church, and believers who are dislocated from church are missing out on this key ingredient of growth.

 

I have dislocated my shoulders many times and had operations to secure them in their sockets. When dislocated there is incredible pain and the arm is basically useless, but it’s still attached to my body. That’s what we are like without fellowship. We are still Christians, still part of the body, but in pain and not really useful to the body. The cry of my heart is to put dislocated Christians back in the socket, back in the place in the body where they belong. And as many of you have experienced, even when you get back there is a period of pain as you heal. I want ignite to be a place of healing and knitting in.

 

4.                   WE CAN ENCOURAGE TOGETHER

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

Believers should encourage one another, and that’s why I insist on unity at Ignite. If you have an issue with something, or with someone, talk to a leader, seek advice, seek help, but don’t make your way around spreading gossip and discord. We need to be careful to guard our mouths and only speak words of encouragement and love to build others up!

 

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong's)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 

Church should be a place where we encourage one another, and no issue, unless it directly contradicts God’s Word, no issue is bigger than the love, unity and encouragement we should have one for another. Please church, don’t love your own opinion more than you love each other! Don’t get so focussed on an issue or what you believe is true that you hurt others, or attack others.

 

5.                   WE CAN EVANGELISE TOGETHER

 

If we want to see people come to know Jesus, nothing beats an on fire, ignited church!

 

Acts 2:46-47 (ESV Strong's)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

When the early church functioned properly, they had the Word, fellowship, worship and people were added daily. We need to reach out to our community and see people coming to Jesus!

 

Together we are better in sharing the gospel. That’s why Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, not in their own. And when we share our faith, let’s do so kindly, gently and respectfully…

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

Coming up we are going to start reaching out to our community, first by prayer walking the streets and then by sharing the good news that Jesus loves them!

 

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

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

 

It’s time to take our beautiful feet and start walking the dirty, dusty streets of our community!

 

6.                   WE CAN SERVE TOGETHER

 

If you are dislocated from church, you cut off almost all the avenues of Christian service. You might still share the gospel to odd people you meet, but how do you follow up those who make commitments? You can’t do it all on your own, and neither were you designed to do it all on your own.

 

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV Strong's)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:

 

Here at Ignite, I don’t do everything. I cannot do everything, I’m busy enough and I still work in my job! So my plan, which is really God’s plan, is that I stir up gifts that are within others, and let them serve doing what they love and are gifted at. If you are here, and have a gift in your heart, do 101 and 201 (next week), and let me open the door for you to serve the Lord here.

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 (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,

 

My calling as a pastor is not to build a big building. It’s not to manage a big corporation, it’s not to become a famous preacher. My calling is to shepherd, it is to stir up within you the gifts of service you have, and then to open the door for them to be used. My job is to train and equip you to become everything you ought to be in Christ, then allow you to operate in your gifting!

 

One of the greatest reasons Christians have to go to church is so they can serve the Lord better. You can get trained, equiped and inspired, and then through the Church find a way of expressing that gift. There is a particular satisfaction that comes from serving the Lord in your gifting, and Church is the ideal place to do this.

 

UNITED WE STAND

 

So the first step towards becoming spiritually successful is to read God’s Word every day, the second is to pray without ceasing, and the third is to not just attend church, but to become a part of the church body. And I would love you to be a part of Ignite Christian Church.  I would love the joy and the honour of watching your life become fruitful for Jesus. And I guarantee you, this place is good soil, yielding 30, 60 and 100 fold!

 

Yet Ignite church is under attack. Yes unchurched people might attack us. Yes the government tries to paralyse us with paperwork and legislation. Sometimes even other Christians might attack and criticise us. But by far the greatest threat we have to this body of believers comes from within!

 

Disunity kills churches that should be full of life. Beware of anything that disrupts unity, even if you feel you are right and the others are wrong!

 

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

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

Look, I understand that we are human, and we have opinions about people, things and the way we do things. But let me be frank, unless something is out and out sin as described in the Bible, I cannot tolerate threats to the beautiful unity we have here at Ignite. I’ve seen churches spilt over the colour of carpets or the placement of a cross or an altar. I was even at a Baptist church once that nearly split over an excess water bill, because there were too many baptisms!

 

I don’t expect you to agree with everything, or everyone. But you must commit to disagreeing agreeably, not gossiping to others about whatever your problem is and stirring up trouble. Jesus said a house divided will not stand, because He understood the destructive power of disunity.

 

When we elevate our personal preferences or petty disagreements above unity and our love for each other, let me be bold here, I believe it is sin, and the devil uses this to destroy God’s work in a church. So before you get on your high hobby horse and cause strife, ask yourself if Jesus would be talking this way.  Remember, this is the same Jesus who prayed…

 

John 17:21-22 (ESV Strong's)

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

 

Would Paul talk this way, the Paul that said,

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV Strong's)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

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Spiritual Success 3- Prayer

March 5, 2018

Last week we looking at the first great step towards becoming a spiritual success… reading the Word of God daily. This was not a glamorous or earth shattering revelation to many of you, but the steps towards becoming truly successful in God’s economy are not bolts for the blue, they are simple, achievable and total acts of devotion. 

 

The second area, like the first, will not be a surprise, but you will recognise it as an essential building block to your spiritual success.  I’m talking about prayer.

 

PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT

 

Simply put, prayer is just talking to God. It involves you talking to Him, and then you listening to Him. It is not you talking at Him, but as you pray it involves you opening your heart to hear, to see, to understand what it is He is saying to you.

 

And we are instructed to pray at all times…

 

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV Strong's)

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

 

So we are instructed to pray in the Spirit at all times, with all prayer (worship) and supplication (requests).

 

The Greek word for prayer is a broad one, not specifically reverved for church or synagogue. We can pray publicly, privately, verbally, or silently. We can pray kneeling, sitting, standing, lying down, or even while we are driving. We can pray with our eyes open or closed. (If you pray while you’re driving, I strongly recommend the first option.) You can pray in any position, at any time, anywhere, and in fact we are commanded to do this, all the time!

 

WHY PRAY?

 

Prayer has been a massive part of the life of every significant man or woman of God in the Bible, and throughout history. Some like Daniel prayed every morning habitually, another we read about like Nehemiah faced a fearful tense situation and shot up a quick prayer. Jesus Himself prayed many times as recorded in Scripture, praying early in the morning in Mark 1:35, praying for friends, people, healings, miracles and even in His most desperate hours, in the garden alone and even on the cross.

 

If it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us, right? So given that we should pray, let me give you good reasons why you ought to pray…

 

1.      PRAYER IS COMMANDED IN SCRIPTURE

 

Matthew 26:41 (ESV Strong's)

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

Jesus not only commands us to pray, as does Paul, James and others, but Jesus also demonstrates this right throughout His life. If He commands it, and He demonstrates it, I believe the correct response is obedience.

 

2.      PRAYER IS HOW WE OBTAIN THINGS

 

Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the omnipotent muscle of God… I know this sounds terribly carnal, but prayer opens the door for God’s blessings to flow to us.

 

James 4:2-3

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

 

These verses show a condition of answered prayer… the right motives. If you ask for things you want, God loves you enough to sometimes not to give them to you! Kaileigh loves ice cream, but we don’t give it to her all the time. However, there are many things God wants you to have, and we don’t obtain those because we don’t ask, says James.

 

“How come I never seem to know God’s will in my life?” You do not have, because you do not ask. “Lord, why am I always just scraping by?” You do not have, because you do not ask.

 

3.      PRAYER OVERCOMES WORRY AND ANXIETY

 

Let’s face it, we have loads to worry about in our modern life. We worry about relationships, our families, jobs, money, careers, not to mention our country, morals, terrorism, etc. I even worry about the fact I have so much to worry about!

 

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 if you want peace, the peace in your heart that transcends all understanding, even in the face of incredible pressure and loss, the solution is to pray!

 

4.      PRAYER CHANGES US

 

Romans 8:26 (ESV Strong's)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

 

In our weakness, prayer is what begins to change us, with groaning or words beyond our comprehension. Romans later takes about being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and that happens with prayer.

 

Prayer prepares us for the return of Christ. We are the bride of Christ, and prayer prepares us to be that spotless bride whom He is coming back for. Prayer either changes circumstances, or frequently it changes us! We should not see prayer as an attempt to change God, but rather us.

 

True praying is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.

 

HOW DOES GOD ANSWER PRAYER?

 

As you probably have already figured out, God can answer prayers in a way we are not expecting, or even wanting.

 

One of the most disturbing aspects of prayer in our modern age is the mistaken idea that if we pray and believe for something hard enough, God has to give it to us, based on…

 

Mark 11:24 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

This thinking is dangerous, destructive and wrong! Let me remind you again of this…

 

James 4:3

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

 

Wrongly motivated prayer plus faith does not equal God’s hand being forced. When we ask out of wrong motives, for personal gain or personal glory, we won’t change God no matter how much faith we think we can muster. I have seen churches enter financially crippling investments because the more conservative people were told they lacked faith. That’s why any expansion here at Ignite must be of God, not man.

 

I’m sick of hearing people name it and claim it, blab it and grab it, thinking that if they are just passionate enough and can summon enough faith, God will give them what they want. This must not be! No, we need to seek the Lord, discover His will and then pray in faith for His will, even if it is not our first choice. And here’s the kicker… if you do that, all of a sudden He blesses you no end!

 

Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Here is a simple guideline to keep in mind when you are waiting for your prayers to be answered:

 

If the request is wrong, God says, “No.”

If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.”

If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.”

But if the request is right, the timing is right, and you are right, God says, “Go!”

 

How can you see more “Go” answers in your prayer life? Let’s look at the model Jesus gave us.

 

THE PRAYER PATTERN

 

Luke 11:1-4 (KJV) Because that is what we all know it in.

 

One of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

 

Jesus is not suggesting magical power in the “by rote” prayer people have made this out to be. You face danger or disaster, and you start to mouth the words, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Rather this is a model, a blueprint of how we should pray, and we would do well to study and understand it!

 

1.      OUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

 

I heard of a child praying one time, and he kept calling God Harold, Harold, could you bless my parents, Harold, could you please give me a bike. His parents asked why he was calling God Harold, and he quoted the Lord’s Prayer, Harold be thy name! But it is hallowed, or exalted!

 

Psalms 147:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

 

God is infinite, He is all present, all knowing and all powerful. Many times the modern church has demoted God to a servant, ready to do our bidding, there if we need Him in times of trouble. I refuse to worship a puny, man made, man serving imitation, I choose to worship the awe inspiring God of the Bible!

 

Before we utter a word of personal petition, we must first consider who it is we are speaking to. He is the Almighty God and yet He is also our Heavenly Father. So we begin our prayer with worship, adoration, and acceptance of His will.

 

 

2.      YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE

 

In His darkest hour, Jesus of course prayed

 

Mark 14:36 (ESV Strong's)

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 

News flash… prayer is not the way you can manipulate God to do what you want. You can claim what you want with boldness all you like, but it’s not your will it’s His that matters!  We need to stop giving God orders and expecting Him to move when and where we want. We need to start praying, “Your will be done!”

 

It has been said that Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.

 

Remember the story of the farmer in the great flood. The flood rose to cover the road and a guy cake by in a 4 wheel drive saying hop in, but the man said, “Nope, I am believing the Lord to be saved.” Waters rose up into the house and along came a rescuer in a boat saying climb in… but he said “Nope, I am believing the Lord to be saved.”  In the end He is standing on the roof, all around is flood waters and a helicopter lowers a ladder a begs him to climb up… but he said, “Nope, I am believing the Lord to be saved.”

 

The waters rose and he was killed. Up in heaven he asked, Lord why didn’t you save me, and the Lord said, “Well, I sent a 4 wheel drive, a boat and a helicopter…”

 

Mature prayer doesn’t tell God what to do. It doesn’t dictate terms or try and negotiate a favourable settlement in your favour! It says, show me your will. Not mine but thine be done!

 

Psalms 143:10 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

3.      GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

 

God is all knowing, so He knows what you need. But He loves it when you ask, and especially when you ask in faith, believing He will never let you down.  Listen to what Jesus said…

 

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.

 

Ask, yes. Trust, yes, but above all seek Him, seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and you get the lot. Everything you need, everything you want, because when you seek Him first, what you want more than anything is aligned with what He wants for you.

 

4.      FORGIVE US OUR SINS

 

1 John 1:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Forgiveness is an essential part of prayer, because if you do not confess your sin and seek forgiveness, there is a major blockage in your prayer life.

 

In fact, God treats this so seriously that  Psalmist says that, had he cherished sin in his life, the Lord simply would not have listened.

 

Psalms 66:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

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

But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

 

Do you want the Lord to listen? Of course! Then we must seek forgiveness and when we do it opens the floodgates of blessing.

 

Sin confessed, forgiveness sought, hang on to nothing longer than you ought!

When you confess your sin, the Lord promises to forgive you, whether it is big or small, whether it is affecting others or done in secret. Corrie Ten Boom says that when God forgives a sin, He throws it in the sea of His forgetfulness, and puts up a sign saying “No Fishing.”

 

So if God forgives you, what right do you have to not forgive yourself. Come to a Him with clean hands and clean heart and watch what He will drop into them.

 

5.      AS WE FORGIVE OTHERS

 

Now the hard bit, we have to forgive others. I have seen even mature Christians struggle to forgive others. They hang onto it, believing that they have been wronged, and when they do it ruins their prayer life.

 

This is so serious that the very next verses after the Lord’s Prayer are these…

 

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

How dare we withhold forgiveness when this clearly blocks God forgiving us! If you hold unforgiveness in your heart, not only does it destroy you (it is like drinking poison hoping the other guy dies) but it ruins your life and your prayers become futile. Do you want to feel right, or do you want to be set free? Don’t hold onto unforgiveness. Don’t cover up your sin, confess it, and let God cover it over with a His forgiveness and love!

 

6.      LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

 

Temptation is a part of life, but we are instructed to pray that we may not be led into it. Temptation is not sin, but it becomes so when you give in to it.  We have a great tendency to rationalise temptation, to explain it away or flirt with it, but we need to get serious with dealing with it.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV Strong's)

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.

 

You can stand up under it, but you are better to flee from it. You are better to guard your heart and not even flirt with it, or as Jesus Himself instructs us,

 

Matthew 26:41 (ESV Strong's)

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

Truly, we are weak when it comes to temptation, but God knows so well that if we give into temptation it will destroy our prayer connection with Him. So He tells us to pray against it specifically!

 

When we do, s the next part of the Lord’s Prayer says, He delivers us from evil!

 

BE PERSISTENT

 

When it comes to answered prayer, many times it is not that we lack ability, it’s that we lack stickability! We pray, then we give up, but God calls us to persist in prayer. Keep praying until you get an answer, whether that be the answer you want or not.

 

Colossians 4:2 (ESV Strong's)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

 

The Greek for continue steadfastly is proskartereō, which means persevere, be earnest towards, be constantly diligent in prayer. Couple this with the parable of the persistent widow, and you’ll realise that God wants you to keep asking, keep believing and keep seeking Him. As He says,

 

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.

 

When I pray, I make it my practice to keep praying and keep believing until God tells me otherwise.  Praying for healing, I keep praying until either God heals the disease or He shows me He has something different in mind. I don’t pray and then give God an “out” just in case He can’t manage to do it.

 

I believe in Him and trust Him for all results, whether it is what I want or not, because my prayers must never be about my will, but God’s will in my life.

 

PRAY AGAINST THE CAUSE NOT THE SYMPTOMS

 

Let me also add that we need to be careful about what we are praying about. So often we pray for the symptoms, not the cause. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was cutting down some trees that were hanging low and touching the cars as we drove in and out. I could cut near the end, solve the immediate problem, but have to do it all again a month later. Or I could cut further back towards the trunk and solve the problem for a year.

 

With prayer we most often pray about the symptoms, not the actual cause, because the cause is often hidden from us. But listen to this..

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

 Think about it. Perhaps we should recognise that we don’t pray against people, diseases or circumstances, but the spiritual forces behind these things.

 

We should be praying for our nation and morality, but not against the people so vehemently attacking us. Let’s pray against the spirit of the age that is behind it all, and pray that we may be vigilant not passive and limp in response. Let’s attack the root cause in our prayers, not just the low hanging branches!

PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING?

 

So the first step in spiritual success is to read the Word of God daily. The second is to pray with power constantly, and to do this you need to stay close to God. You need to seek Him, you need to avoid temptation and you need to be in constant communication with Him.  That’s what a truly powerful prayer life is.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV Strong's)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

How can you pray without ceasing? Must you spend the entire day on your knees with eyes closed?

 

You can try this if you wish, but most of the rest of us have to live in the real world. I believe when the Bible says pray without ceasing it means that you can live, all day every day, in the zone of constant communication with God. Speak to Him, and constant

Y have your spiritual heart open to let Him speak into your heart. In others words, live in the zone of constant connection to Him.

 

So whatever you face, whatever life brings along, like Nehemiah did so long ago, just constantly pause, shoot up a quick prayer and then be aware of the Lord’s leading and guiding. You might meet someone, and as you shake hands pray, “Lord, what can I say to bless this person.” If you face a volatile situation, pray, “Lord, please give me the right words to calm this and bring about unity.” If we lived in this zone we would the minimise explosive conflict many of us seem to live with.

 

BOTTOM LINE, STAY CLOSE (AND STAY ON THE LINE)

 

I believe the Lord is challenging us today to clear out the sin in our lives and stay connected to Him, all day every day. Can you trust Him? When you pray, can you honestly trust Him for the results, even if they are not what you desire? That’s true faith if you can.

 

Stay close to God, or as Jesus puts it, abide in me!

 

A grandfather was walking past his young granddaughter’s room one night when he saw her kneeling beside her bed, with head bowed and hands folded, repeating the alphabet.
“What are you doing?” he asked her.
She explained, “I’m saying my prayers, but I couldn’t think of just what I wanted to say. So I’m just saying all the letters of the alphabet, and God can put them together however he thinks best.”
Maybe some of the rest of us should have that kind of faith.
As “His Prayer” puts it, “THY will be done.”

 

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

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

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

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Spiritual Success 2- Steps to Spiritual Success

February 28, 2018

 "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." 

-- Colin Powell

 

Spiritual success is something we all want, but strangely it seems to elude most of us. I have discovered some massive secrets to attaining spiritual success, and over the next few weeks I want to share them with you.

 

Last week we agreed that the world’s measure of success is different to God’s. Spiritual success is independent of money, fame or prestige.

 

Why is it that some people come to Christ and grow like crazy, while others have been Christians for years or even decades and seem to have barely grown at all? Why do some seem to do lots of incredible things for the Lord while others spend years sitting in a pew doing and being involved in very little?

 

CHOOSE NOW!

 

Why does it seem Christianity works for some people but not others? I’ve had many people say to me, “Tried Christianity, and it didn’t work for me.” Listen, Christianity is not a product, and we are not just consumers.  Christianity is a person, and every, and I mean every, single person who truly invests in Christ will find He will work for them. The thing is, we concentrate more of what we can get from church than what we can give. We tend not to invest, we tend to consume!

 

To achieve spiritual success, the first requirement is that you choose to invest in it!

 

Deuteronomy 30:19

(ESV) 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,

 

You may be visiting Church today, or you may be a regular attender, but if you know me at all as a pastor, I want to see you grow strong and powerful in the Lord. I’ve asked God for a church of leaders. My passion is to see you became all you could possibly be in the Lord. But to do this, we have to start somewhere.

 

Some of you may be content to just float along and never achieve any spiritual success, but I believe most of you want to achieve something great for God, right? Wouldn’t you love to know that you’ve brought people to Jesus, spoken into people’s lives and seen amazing change, prayed and seen God move mountains?

 

Age doesn’t hold you back, education isn’t stopping you. Where you live, how you speak, none of that is holding you back from spiritual greatness. All that is required for your breakthrough to become a spiritual giant is your making the choice to pursue God, and following through to actually do it!

 

EMBRACE  DISCIPLINE

 

We live in an instant society. More than ever before, we want everything right away, no delays, no waiting. Open up the internet and you will read about how you can make $10,461 in7 days or less doing basically nothing! On TV you see how you can stand on a vibrating board and lose 10kg while you watch TV. I heard they just invented a microwave TV, so you can watch 60 Minutes in just 2 Minutes! In 21st century Australia, we want a pill or magic bullet to solve every problem.

 

Remember once upon a time we used to write a letter, fold it up, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it , go to the post office and mail it, and some days later your friend would get the letter, open it and finally read it? Today we call that “snail mail”.

 

Then came the fax, which could send said letter down a phone line in maybe 2 Minutes. But that wasn’t fast enough, so we got email, which send said letter in seconds. But even now that’s not fast enough (and a fax seems like a dinosaur), now we have instant messaging, where we can send said letter in real time and get an instant reply!

 

No success in life is achieved without discipline. In sport, business, ministry and even family, if we are to be truly successful, it takes effort and discipline. And so it is spiritually.

 

We always want the fast, easy, no nonsense way to achieve success. But to know spiritual success as a follower of Jesus Christ, there are some things that need to be part of your life on a regular, and yes even daily, basis. These are nonnegotiable. They are not optional, not for some and not for others. They are for everyone. They are the disciplines of the Christian life, and yes, they take, time and effort. Yet within the spiritual realm, they are the fast track to spiritual success.

 

 

SOW WHAT?

 

Mark 4:5-8

And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

 

Jesus goes on to explain the metaphors later in the chapter. The first seed is people who hear about Jesus and the devil snatches it away, and they never make a commitment to Christ. The second accept Christ, but it is a shallow, possibly emotional response. As soon as things get tough, they turn away, often saying things like, “Tried Christianity, but it doesn’t t work.”

 

The third is where so many believers are today… The Word grows in them, but gets choked out by life, pressures, the drive to succeed in a worldly way. How does this happen? It starts when Christians ignore the basics of the faith. They let their discipline go, and stop praying, stop reading the Word and stop attending church, or simply attend but never commit to anything.

 

The forth seed is shown into good ground, and it is fruitful, yielding far in excess of what was shown, 30, 60 and 100 fold. Does it magically produce this? Nope, the Lord bestows the growth. And what is the main difference between the third and forth seed? Effort, discipline, the pulling of weeds!

 

I’m not much of a gardener. I don’t invest enough time into my garden. I’ve grown some plants and some trees, but if I neglect my garden, I grow a whole stack of weeds without even trying!

 

And that’s the thing… if you do not get serious about your walk with the Lord, you will grow fruit by default, but it will mostly be weeds. Do you want to be fruitful or weedy in your life?

 

READ THE DIRECTIONS!

 

If you want to become a big fat zero for Christ, if you are happy and content with all of your life, if you can’t really be bothered stepping out in faith, just stay where you are. You’re welcome to fellowship here, come and sit and get what you want to get you through the next week.  Next year, more of the same. Year after that, same old same old.

 

But I believe most of you have higher aspirations than that. You want to grow and achieve spiritual success in your life, and you want God to use you in an amazing way to impact and change the world, right? If that is you, then it all starts here… it all starts with personal discipline, and God’s Word…

 

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The Bible is God’s directions for life. Like any man, I have trouble reading directions. I usually try and fix something or assemble something, and if I run into difficulties, I finally read directions. But honestly, some directions these days are ridiculous… take these for example…

 

On packaging for an iron: Do not iron clothes while on body.

On Children's Cough Medicine: Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.

On a child's Superman costume: Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

On a bottle of laundry detergent: Remove clothing before distributing in washing machine.

On a muffin packet: Remove wrapper, open mouth, insert muffin, eat.

On a can of air freshener: For use by trained personnel only.

On a toilet cleaning brush: Do not use orally.

On a can of Spray paint: Do not spray in your face.

On a blowtorch: Not used for drying hair.

On a box of fireworks: Do not put in mouth.

On a Swedish chain saw: Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.

In a microwave oven manual: Do not use for drying pets.

On a Japanese food processor: Not to be used for the other use.

 

The directions given by God are to be obeyed for maximum results. So how do you do this?

 

1.      GOD’S WORD IS TO BE STUDIED

 

Reading the Bible is fine, but God’s Word is not like some novel. It is God’s instruction manual for life, and if we are wise we will not just read but study it. You can do this anywhere, any time. You could join a connect group and study with others.

 

Ezra 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

 

The thing is, the Bible is not just a book, it’s life in the Spirit. This book is not passive, it is active. There are thousands of testimonies of people who opened a bible in their hour of need and God spoke to the, through it. And this same Scripture can speak to you if you listen…

 

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.

 

2.      GOD’S WORD IS TO BE CONSUMED DAILY

 

We all want the fast, easy track to spiritual greatness and success, so here it is… read the Bible every day! Wait a minute, that’s not so easy! Well, it’s a lot easier that spending years wasting your life, isn’t it?

 

Matthew 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 

Let me ask you, how often do you eat? Do you eat once a week? Once a month maybe? No, you eat every day, often several times a day. In the same way, nothing substitutes reading the Word of God every day. Nothing. If you want to be spiritually successful, this is the fast track! As you eat every day to live, so you need to eat of God’s Word daily to live and be successful spirituality.

 

That’s why God sent manna in Exodus 16 and it was to be consumed daily. Ever wonder why He did that? So that the people learned to live daily on the provision of the Lord. It wasn’t enough to save up old experiences, He wanted them to experience Him and His love every day.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV Strong's)

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

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

I was talking to someone in our church last week who told me that God is speaking every day to her from her daily readings. This really works folks, so if you’re not reading the Word every day, you are missing out!

 

 

3.      GOD’S WORD IS TO BE MEDITATED ON

 

Joshua 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Successful? God says you need to meditate, or think about His Word day and night to be successful. So we do not just read it and put it down, we think back on it every day. Our team that went to the Philippines often discussed what the daily bible passage was all day, and that’s meditating. Like a cow with multiple stomachs we regurgitate and chew over what we have eaten again and again.

 

Then what happens is that in many situations of life you face, the Word of God hidden in your heart pops out and is exactly what you need at the time.

 

Psalms 119:9-11 (ESV Strong's)

 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

 

As you think about and even memorise the Word of God, you will be amazed at how often these verses spring to mind, just when you need it. Try it, I challenge you to try it. It really is true!

 

4.      GOD’S WORD IS TO BE OBEYED

 

We do not read just to tick off a box on the Bible reading plan. We do not read out of interest or curiosity or to gain knowledge. We read to live, and to live God’s Word means obedience!

 

James 1:21-25 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

 

If you want to be a spiritual success, obedience is mandatory. As I said last week, why should God roll out His perfect plan for your life if you want even obey step 1?  So many Christians cry out for God to lead and guide them, yet when He reveals what they need to do, they don’t even obey!

 

If you’re not being obedient, don’t expect God to lead you, it’s that simple!  And if you’re not reading God Word, how can you expect Him to lead you anyway! When the Psalmist writes,

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

He is working on the assumption that you read the word and let it shine.

 

THREE WORDS FOR SPIRITUAL SUCCESS

 

Let me give you 3 words that will give you the spiritual success I hope you are craving… READ YOUR BIBLE

 

Psalms 19:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving (Gk: transforming) the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

 

If you are someone who is not really interested in changing or being transformed, then you probably aren’t interested in the Bible or in spiritual success. The Word of God is for people who have some sense of desperation about where they are in life. It is for people who don’t have the purpose in their lives they wish they had. It is for those who aren’t content to be controlled by their passions, who don’t want to be victims of circumstance, and who want their relationships with those they love to become even better.

 

The Bible is for people who want direction in life, who want to know how to live, and who want to go to heaven. It is for people who want to know God. The Bible is for people who don’t have all the answers and want something better. It’s for those who want to change the world around them for God.

 

SPIRITUAL SUCCESS REVOLVES AROUND READING GOD’S WORD

 

Honestly, if you say you’re serious about your relationship with God, if you say you’re serious about changing and about impact the world for Jesus, then daily Bible reading isn’t just desirable, it is mandatory! 

 

That’s why I wrote the Bible Reading program. If you’re not reading the Bible daily, come and join us in this reading plan. It covers the whole Bible only reading 2 chapters a day, usually less than 7 Minutes. The plan has all of the highlights of the Bible without the less exciting bits, and if you follow it it will transform your life!

 

People complain that they have no time to read the Bible. Well, turn off TV, there’s a couple of hours, get off Facebook, there’s another hour or two, or ten! You make time for what is important, and if you show God that His Word is important, you will see results.

 

And if you’re really desperate… put the Bible on your phone and when you go to the toilet, sit and read. The Lord will not be turned off by the smell, trust me!

 

If you don’t read much, download the Gideon’s Bible app. It’s free, and you can do the entire ESV Bible as audio.

 

I use to have a computer with very limited hard drive space. When I tried to add a program, a little message would pop up saying, “No more memory available,” and before I could load the program I would have to remove some other program.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if, when the devil comes with his temptations to attack your life, a little sign appeared saying “Memory full. Heart and mind are filled to capacity with the things of God.”

That’s why I am so pumped about you reading God’s Word daily! Not because I’m sadistic, not because I want to clutter or control your life. I tell you this because I want to protect and empower you, and fill your hard drive with God things. As Philippians says,

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely,

 

After all, the best defense is a good offense. So instead of being open and vulnerable to the attacks of the devil through our minds, let’s fill our minds with thoughts of God, thoughts of heaven, and meditation on His life-changing Word.

 

We need to commit ourselves to reading His Word, then patiently wait for the harvest that it surely will bring…

 

James 5:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

 

Christian, I’m sorry but there is no excuse for us.  Either we get serious about reading God’s Word, or explain to Him why we cannot be bothered. I love You, Lord, I desire You with all my heart, but don’t ask me to put any effort into the relationship.

 

Actually, try this excuse with your wife or husband and see what type of response you get.

 

Today’s challenge is this… will you commit to reading God’s Word every day for the next month?

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Unity in the Home

February 19, 2018

Unity in the Home is something we all want, yet even among Christian couples, it is rare! 

VALENTINES DAY

 

This week we celebrated Valentines Day, and so I did some research into what this day is all about. The original Valentine was a Roman priest who defied an edict from Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor felt marriage was stopping his recruitment drive for his army, so he banned marriage, and Valentine continued to marry couples in secret.

 

When exposed he was captured, beaten and imprisoned, and while awaiting execution, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, to whom he wrote many love notes. On February 14, 270AD He was executed, having signed off his last note, Your Valentine.  He gave his life for love and his belief in Christ, but he never wrote, “Roses are red, violets are blue.”

 

So today I had something else lined up to speak on, but I have felt the Lord strongly working on me to change the topic and speak not about Romantic love but about unity in the family, especially between husband and wife.

 

Please understand, I’m not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, but I sense I need to address the elephant in the room. We don’t talk about this often, and no one really knows what is happening behind closed doors at your house, but this is something we must not ignore.  Probably the easiest way for the devil to destroy Ignite Christian Church and negate any effect we can have on the world for Christ is to destroy our families. And you know what it’s like… you might have had a fight last night, you might have thrown plates, said things you didn’t mean or screamed at the kids, but on Sunday we all paint on happy faces and turn up to Church.  Don’t look so pious, we have all done it sometime, right?

 

ATTACK ON FAMILIES

 

I believe that today, more than ever before we are seeing an attack on the home and families. Values long held across all of society by all peoples in all cultures have been sacrificed to appease a tiny minority.

 

Maybe the same sex marriage laws don’t affect you directly, maybe the so called safer schools directives don’t concern you directly, but these and many other forces from parliament to divorce courts to songs to movies to Mardi Gras have chipped away at the family. Even in church our people are affected, our families are under threat like never before, and the divorce rate among Christians is as high as that among the world!

 

The Lord has been showing me how unbelievably disruptive disunity is, within the church and within your family…

 

Psalms 133:1,3 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

 

I believe that God doesn’t just suggest unity because it’s a good idea, or so you can get some peace and quiet. God crowns unity among people with the command of His blessing, life forevermore. If you want blessing in our church, be in unity. If you want blessing in your home and marriage, be in unity! Unity breeds blessing, just as disunity destroys it!

 

Many of you have lived through relationship disunity in the past. Many have experienced divorce or separation, all of us have had a broken heart or two. Many are living this disunity right now, sometimes openly and sometimes behind closed doors. Unity will command God’s blessing, but disunity will kill a church, a business, a football team, a band, a club and especially a family.

 

Satan loves attacking families because the results are high for him. He can take a small issue in your home, like putting out the garbage, what to buy or not buy, squeezing the toothpaste in the wrong spot or controlling the TV remote, and turn it into a mountain of misery for all concerned.

 

At Ignite we have tremendous unity, from the leadership right down. But this week the Lord spoke to me and said, hidden away below the surface there is disunity, not just between church members but within many families on a scale that would shock us if we actually knew. 

 

Behind the Valentine Day façade, the flowers and chocolates, behind the happy family approach to Church I know that some of us here are hurting like crazy, and there is conflict bubbling away in our marriages and homes. Husband against wife, wife against husband, mother against daughter, father against son, brother against sister.

 

I know you come to church to feel better, not for the pastor to make you feel uncomfortable or horrible.  For some of us, myself included, this is going to hurt a little bit, but the end result will be greater unity and a blessings that is off the charts! I cannot  not begin to solve every individual marriage problem or relationship difficulty in one sermon. But if the Lord has challenged me to speak on this, something we usually hush up when we come to church, then I want to be obedient.

 

Let me confess to you that I am not a perfect husband. I don’t give Fiona nearly enough love, barely enough money and never enough time. I make decisions without her, I’m selfish, way too focussed and isolate myself at times. But I love her and believe that, as I yield to the Lord and let Him shape my life, we will see unity and great blessing in our home.

 

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

 

Let’s start by saying this…we are all different. Men are different to women, kids are different to parents. We think differently, we speak differently and we act differently.

 

When a man speaks he is direct… I speak, you listen, you speak, I listen. But a woman can be speaking and hear every other conversation in the room!

 

Men have this area of the brain called autopilot, and while they are looking at you speaking and appear to be listening, they are really thinking about the football score. Women can turn on the waterworks and cry, but men tend to stonewall, simmering in silence.

 

Men live in the now, often disregarding the consequences. Women live in multiple time zones, and everything you’ve every done in your relationship is carefully catalogued to be recalled when it is needed to win an argument.

 

What about kids?  I mean, what’s the difference between a 2 year old and a terrorist? You can reason with a terrorist.  I heard an eminent psychologist this week explain that there is actually very little difference between the behaviour of the average teenager and a psychopath. They sited lack of empathy for others,  wanting their own way and defiance, in fact pretty much all the character traits of psychopaths bar killing small animals.

 

STEPS TO DIVIDE A HOUSE

 

Jesus said this…

 

Mark 3:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

 

So how does a house, any house such as a church or your home, become divided?  Usually it starts with a difference of opinion, maybe on finances, maybe about disciplining kids, but it then escalates beyond proportion and beyond our control. Here are some of the steps to dividing your house, and Jesus says it will not stand…

 

1.      DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

 

Disunity starts with a difference of opinion.  And let’s face it, we all disagree at some time. My wife often disagrees with me, and it upsets me that she can be wrong so often!

 

One of the great plots of the evil one right now is to allow everybody to think that their opinion is actually important! Look at Facebook. Never before has so much ranting been done so excessively by so many with so little point. Years ago we felt like the little guys had no voice, but today it’s like every idiot with a smartphone can voice the most ridiculous ideas, anytime, anywhere. Opinions are like noses… everyone has one, and most of them smell!

 

So division, whether in church, business or your family, starts with a difference of opinion. It is not wrong to disagree or have an opposing opinion to your spouse, your child, friend or the pastor. It’s how we express this difference of opinion that makes all the difference!

 

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV Strong's)

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

 

2.      WANTING TO BE RIGHT

 

Once during an argument my wife said, “When we argue, you always think you’re right…” I replied that that was true, because if I thought I was wrong I wouldn’t take up a contrary position.

 

We all want to be right, all the time. We all think we are right, most of the time.

 

3.      CHOOSING BEING RIGHT OVER LOVE

 

While we want to be right, it should be more important that we love one another.

 

John 13:34 (ESV Strong's)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

 

Whenever there is any conflict in the home, and it is inevitable there will be some, unless you live by yourself, and even then you might fight with yourself. When there is conflict or a difference of opinion, you face a choice… do you fight for what you believe is right, or do you show love and grace towards the other party.

 

Now you can love someone and disagree with them, so I am not asking you to become a doormat for love. However, as I often say in the church, you can disagree as long as you agree to disagree agreeably.

 

Disunity occurs when we choose that we want to be right more than we want to be reconciled. When Paul writes about lawsuits between believers he says this…

 

1 Corinthians 6:7 (ESV Strong's)

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

 

In your home, in your marriage, in your relationships with kids and parents, why take offence? I’m not saying you should become a doormat, but many times we love being right more than we love the other party. I can believe I am right, but still treat you with respect and love if I choose to do so.

 

However, what often happens is that one party stands their ground and insists on being right while the other capitulates and gives in every time. If both of you love each other more than the argument unity is achievable.

 

 

4.      REACTING RATHER THAN RESPONDING

 

So many of us react rather than respond. When we don’t like things, when we have a disagreement, when we feel hurt or overlooked or persecuted, we often tend to have a knee jerk reaction (which could be shortened to a jerk reaction, as in being a jerk!)

 

The knee jerk response is a measurement by doctors of our traction time. It involves a nervous reflex which does not involve the brain, so you make this reaction without conscious thought.

 

As a general rule, when you feel offended, the first reaction is usually neither productive nor the one you want. If, every time you faced conflict, you came apart for half an hour before responding, you would find that both sides will tend to make a more rational, more controlled and more balanced approach.

 

If you respond rather react you will preserve unity far better than if you explode as soon as you’re offended or not happy. Works with the kids, the wife, the dog, the boss and the pastor!

 

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

 

5.      HOLDING ON TO THE OFFENCE

 

And here is the clincher for ruining unity in your home. If you want to ruin your family, ruin your church or anything else, never let go of offence. Jesus instructs us…

 

Luke 17:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

 

Why should you forgive them so many times? Does Jesus care if you’re right? I mean, I some men say, married a woman I knew that for me was Miss right, I just didn’t realise her first name was always!

 

Jesus commands you to forgive the other’s offence because if you don’t do this, it hurts you far more than it hurts them! It’s like you drinking poison hoping the other guy dies.

 

I have branches of my extended family who haven’t spoken to each other for years. I know of Christians who have been to church every week with people that they haven’t spoken to for years. Holding onto offence never ends well. If you have long term issues with your spouse or kids, pray, swallow your need to be right no matter what and forgive them. Forgiveness creates unity.

 

Paul’s advice is this…

Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV Strong's)

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

 

You may not be able to settle every argument on the day, although it is a good things to aim at, but what Paul says is don’t hold onto it. The longer you remain angry, the more damage you will do, to your relationship and also to yourself. You are better off giving it to the Lord and letting Him sort it than hanging on, feeling self justified but miserable and alienated.

 

6.      GOING COLD

 

If you choose to hold onto offence long enough, something within you and your relationship can die.

 

Jesus said to the church at Ephesus

 

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

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

 

The church at Ephesus were doing all the right things, looked pious and godly on the surface, but had lost that first love, that sense of wonder that we all have when we fall in love.

 

So, husbands and wives, do not forsake your first love. When you have conflict or disharmony, it is tempting to focus on the disharmony, but most often the current issue is never the real issue. We tend to sweep it up and shovel it under the bed, then gloss it over and come to church.  But I would urge you to look back and regain your first love. I am not talking about gooey feelings here, but the commitment you once had.

 

When you first stood before the altar and said your wedding vows, remember that. When you first held that little baby in your arms, the same one who has grown up and you’re now fighting with, remember that first love.

 

Going cold towards the other person, giving them the cold shoulder or the silent treatment does not solve the problem.  You need honest, open and frank discussion, without threats, screaming or cursing. If you have a conflict with your kids, sit them down and talk about it. If it’s between spouses, find a time to sit with a coffee and share openly and honestly.

 

YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

 

The fact is, if you are struggling in your marriage or family relationships you are not the only ones. This is happening right across society and I believe especially in the church. The enemy is attacking. The best way to destroy the ministry of a church is to destroy the families within it. You may not feel that your family is being destroyed, but many including myself are starting to feel the pressure.

 

Fiona and I are going away camping this week because, when we  are here, we are so busy we often get zero time together. Two workaholics need to be careful, and take steps to improve their relationship! So what practical steps can you take if you feel the enemy is attacking your family?

 

1.      PRAY PROTECTION

 

Psalms 57:1 (ESV Strong's)

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

 

Your Heavenly Father longs to protect you. As we sang, He longs to hide you in the shadow of His wings. The first thing you should do is pray for the blood of Jesus to cover your family, and then the enemy will have no choice but to Passover your family, just as the Israelites experienced in the 10th plague.

 

Praying together as a family also can help, although if kids or spouses are not Christians, this is obviously not always an option. Remember, the family that prays together stays together!

 

2.      DRAW NEAR TO GOD

 

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.

 

Get into your daily quiet times, listen to podcasts and sermons, read Christian books. If you do everything you can to draw close to God He promises to draw near to you, and many times you will draw closer to each other as a result.

 

3.      GUARD YOUR MOUTH

 

If you have issues with your family members, pray don’t say!

 

James 3:5 (ESV Strong's)

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

 

How many of us have created havoc by the rash words we have spoken in anger? How many times have we, in anger or frustration, said things we regret?

 

Bill Newman tells of a woman who had been saying horrible things about the pastor. She felt convicted and apologised to the pastor, but he had a strange request… go to the local mountain, cut open a pillow and throw all of the feathers to the wind. She did this, and then the pastor said one more thing… could you go and pick them all up please?

 

Proverbs 18:21 (ESV Strong's)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

 

Watch what you say, speak life not death to your family, and also watch how you say it! Eg: I’m sorry I love you

 

 

4.      OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION

 

If the situation is explosive, it’s great to back off and take the time to respond appropriately. This doesn’t mean the silent treatment for days, weeks, months or years. To resolve anything, you will need to talk, and talk honestly and openly.  So guys in particular, don’t run and hide in the shed… make time, schedule time in my case, to talk.

 

A couple in counselling… the woman complains “He never tells me he loves me.” The man replies, “I told you when we got married, and if I ever change my mind I will let you know!”

 

Learn to speak, even if it is not your way, and learn to speak words that build up, not pull down.

 

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong's)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 

CHOOSE NOW

 

Look, I know we all, myself included, have said a lot of rough things to those we love, our wives, husbands, kids, brothers and sister, especially when we are under pressure. You cannot take them back, but you can apologise.

 

And changes in your family and relationships start with a decision, a commitment if you will. You can fall in love again, you can have the relationships you want, but you have to decide to do it. Remember, the devil is out to bring you down, and the little foxes spoil the vines… those little irritations, neglected and glossed over, cause major breakups and destroy marriages time and time again.

 

So I’m going to ask you to be honest right now. Is there pressure on your marriage, on your relationships with kids, grandkids, siblings or even church family that aren’t ideal? Have you exploded, ignored or withdrawn in the most important relationships you have.

 

Valentine’s Day this week was all about love. But love is commitment, and commitment requires a choice. Ideally you both commit to each other, but if the other party is too angry or withdrawn, will you be the bigger one and make the choice?

 

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,

 

Satan is attacking our families, but we won’t stand for it! We don’t want to lose one marriage, one family, one child, we want to be fully committed to each other and to the Lord’s service.

 

If you have tension, undue pressure on your home, your marriage or your relationship with your kids stand up.

 

Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV Strong's)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

Unity begets blessing, so if you want your marriage and family blessed, come forward.

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