Ps Darin Browne @ Ignite Christian Church
Brokenness 2- What God Wants

Brokenness 2- What God Wants

August 18, 2019

Last week we discovered that brokenness is a part of life,  it today I want to take the time to ask the question of God… tell me what you want, what you really, really want?

 

When difficulties come into our lives, most people ask the question, “Where are you, God?” In asking this question, we make an assumption that God either must not have known what was about to befall us or else he would have prevented it. Or we assume that God must not love us, because if he loved us, he would keep us from all hurtful times and hard experiences.

 

Both assumptions are wrong.

 

The fact is, God knows. And God loves. So what’s going on then, and what is the Lord after?

 

JOB… GOOD GUY, BAD DEAL

 

To look closer at this, consider Job. Job was a good and godly man, yet he was on the end of a bad deal.  When pain, turmoil or disaster comes our way, many ask the question, “Who caused this, God or Satan?”  What we see in the book of Job is that Satan causes the pain, but God, in His infinite wisdom, at times allows bad things to happen to good people.

 

Job 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

 

God rejoiced in Job’s faithfulness, but then Satan stepped forward and accused Job, saying he is only righteous because he gets what he wants.

 

So God gave Satan permission to touch Job’s possessions, but not his body. Satan attacked, and Job’s sons and daughters, flocks, herds and servants were killed. Did God kill them? No, but He gave liberty for Satan to do it.

 

Job 1:21 (ESV Strong's)

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

 

Despite the pain and loss, Job refused to blame God. So Satan was given permission to attack Job’s body. How many of you know that brokenness often leads to sickness. Also, those he loved turned on him. His friends tormented and accused him instead of encouraging him, and his wife said,

 

Job 2:9 (ESV Strong's)

Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”

 

God knew that Job was broken. While we may not understand why God allowed it, we do know that God never abandoned Job, not even for a moment. God knew of Job’s afflictions, but He also knew how these would serve to refine and deepen Job’s trust in the Lord.

 

The thing is, no matter how broken we might feel, God sees the beginning and the end of our lives. He has a good future designed for us. He has a hope that can drive us on in the toughest of times. We may not know what our future holds, but we know who holds our future, and we can trust Him.

 

In all this, Job learned not to question God, but to yield to His sovereign will. Job never accused God, and he never dictated terms, he submitted to God, and as he yielded to God, God saw fit to restore his fortunes, twice as much as he had before.

 

GOD’S MOTIVATION IS LOVE

 

We need to recognise that God does not allow brokenness in our lives because he is ruthless, cruel, heartless, or without compassion. No! To the contrary. God sees the beginning and the end, He sees the full potential for our lives, and He deeply desires an intimate, loving spiritual relationship with us. Paul writes,

 

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV Strong's)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

God loves you so much, He cannot bear to see you continue in your sin, to see you remain in a lukewarm spiritual state, and He will not stand idly by and watch as His plans and hopes and dreams for you go unfulfilled. God is not about meeting your demands, He’s about meeting your destiny!

 

He wants to bring about His best for us, and for us to experience Him in the fullness of His love, wisdom, power, strength, and goodness. He allows brokenness in our lives in order to bring about this blessing… a closer, deeper, more mature walk with Him.

 

DISCIPLINE OR PUNISHMENT?

 

Brokenness is often confused with punishment, but the Lord’ discipline is not the same as the Lord’s punishment.

 

Punishment is for unbelievers. It is an expression of God’s wrath, and is what someone who rejects Jesus faces. Eternally there will be punishment in hell, and many experience some of that even here on earth. Punishment is not designed to rehabilitate, it’s designed to be the just and fair consequences of our sinful actions.

 

Ephesians 5:6 (ESV Strong's)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

 

Discipline, on the other hand, is for believers, it’s for you and I, and God’s purpose is to lead a believer to confront, remove, or change any habits, attitudes, or beliefs that keep the believer from growing more like Jesus. Discipline is a training tool that God uses to make us whole and spiritually mature. It is God’s method for preparing us for a supernatural, Holy Spirit inspired ministry of service.

 

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV Strong's)

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Punishment flows from God’s wrath, but discipline flows from God’s love for you.

 

GOD’S PURPOSE FOR BROKENNESS

 

God loves you, and has a plan and a purpose of your life. Yes. He will allow brokenness in your life, but His motivation is love.

 

Hebrews 12:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

 “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

 

God’s purpose is not to break our spirit, but to break the stubbornness of our wills. Have you ever met a child who has never been disciplined? Undisciplined children grow into egotistical, self centred, self serving, narcissistic adults. Loving parents discipline their children. Why? Because they love them and want them to grow up into kind, beautiful people who bless others. Some people cause happiness wherever they go, while others cause happiness whenever they go.

 

And so God, our perfect Father, allows pain and difficulties and even brokenness into our lives not because He delights in our pain, but because He is shaping us into the destiny He has planned for us. These painful circumstances and situations are tools that God uses to bring us to a position where we are willing to surrender and yield our lives completely to him.

 

VICTIMS OR VICTORS?

 

So can Christians see themselves as victims? The whole modern world see themselves as victims. Nothing is ever their fault. Even criminals blame their past, their upbringing, peers, substances or anything else except their own poor choices! All of these may be true, but in the end, each one chooses.

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

If you are going through brokenness today, you can choose how you see yourself.  When you see ourselves as a victim, you live in the past and wallow in your pain. But if you choose to see yourself as dearly loved by a God who is preparing you for a special future and service, which He alone knows, then you will find strength to endure the past pain and move forward.

 

Victims blame circumstances, but victors rise above circumstances. The choice is yours.

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

All things, even the bad, even the painful, even the things that leave you broken, God can bring about good in your life through these things, and all it takes is for you to choose to trust Him.

 

I was once ripped off for a large sum of money by someone I trusted. I remember the night this all happened, how I sat in a room thinking I was going to lose my home, and I was completely broken. I remember feeling numb, like I had no emotion, almost like I had no soul.

 

But then I realised that I had a choice. I could choose to be the victim, and I was being victimised by someone I loved, or I could choose to be the victor.

 

This brokenness could have affected me for the rest of my life. I could have got mad at God, I could have got mad at myself. But I chose at that moment to trust the Lord. To step up and be the person He wants me to be. To be a victor!

 

Today, if any experience in your past is defining you—other than your salvation experience—then you have serious work to do. If you are still finding your past is controlling you, then you very likely are allowing yourself to be victimised, rather than allowing yourself to be redeemed and healed by the love of God. As long as we see ourselves as victims, we cannot embrace the wholeness God has for us, but today we can choose to become victors!

 

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 VISION

 

They say hindsight is 20/20 vision. In other words, looking back I can see what God was doing. At the time, however, and at the moment of brokenness, you cannot see from God’s perspective, because the pain blinds you to what He was doing.

 

In the heat of the moment, it’s so hard to see what the Lord is doing. If He is a God of love, why does He allow me to hurt so much? When it’s over, however, we can begin to see the truth, the perspective that God has had all along. If you’re broken right now, it you’re hurting, if you’re in pain and there seems to be no hope for you, then God is not standing afar, He is right there, and He’s hurting too!

 

Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The word “crushed” in the Hebrew means destroyed, or ground into powder. And some of you here feel exactly like that… crushed into powder, not just beaten down or hurt, but utterly pulverised into fine powder. But the Bible says,

 

Psalm 147:3 (ESV)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

 

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

 

Do you need reviving this morning?

 

When I look back in my life, I can see clearly how God has changed me. At times I’ve  been broken, shattered, beaten, smashed, pruned, and chiseled, and frankly I didn’t like the feeling of brokenness any more than you do. But I can tell you this—I thank God for what he’s done. Every chisel blow, every hammer blow, every cut of the knife, every slice into my innermost being, every tear, every pain, every hurt, every loss, every disappointment, every disillusionment, every moment of despair has been worth it, because I trust my Lord, and I know God has refined me, and out of the crushed and broken spirit He is building something great for His Kingdom!

 

SILVER REFINED

 

We call our church Ignite, because we recognise our need of the purifying flame that God uses to refine our lives.

 

Proverbs 17:3 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

The process of refining silver is an ancient art. The brokenness you feel is the result of affliction, but it’s this very flame of affliction that God uses to purify or refine your life.

 

The refiner’s fire is not a wildfire, or an incinerator, it is a specific flame at a specific temperature and it burns for a specific purpose. The silver must be held in the middle of the fire, because that’s where it is hottest. It is heated and liquifies, and then impurities, what is called dross, floats to the surface, and are scraped away.

 

This process is repeated again and again, up to 7 times, and each time the silver is heated hotter and hotter, and each time dross is removed.

 

The silversmith watches closely, because he knows that if the silver is left in the flame for even a moment too long it can be destroyed. The flame is carefully set, carefully controlled, and the master silversmith carefully watches and waits.

 

And if you ask the silversmith how he knows when the silver is fully refined, when it is truly pure enough he would smile and tell you…

 

“It is fully refined when I can see my image reflected in the silver.”

 

Psalms 17:15 (ESV Strong's)

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

 

This brokenness, this trial, this test you are experiencing is to purify you so that Jesus is reflected in your life.  If the furnace seems hot right now, remember that God is not punishing you, but allowing affliction so as to lovingly refine and purify you. The purpose of all this, the reason He is working all things for good, is so that He can see His image reflected in you.

 

Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV Strong's)

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

If you’re going through a furnace right now! In your marriage, in your finances, in your relationships, in your walk with God, then let us share the journey with you.

Brokenness 1- Brokenness and Blessing

Brokenness 1- Brokenness and Blessing

August 11, 2019

This could be the most broken, anxious and dejected generation in history. Around 20% of all Australian’s aged 16-85, 1 in 5, suffer from anxiety and/or depression, that equates to around 3.5 million of us clinically depressed.

 

We have more things, more ways to communicate and more opportunities than any generation in history, yet more of us are more anxious, depressed and utterly broken by life than ever before.

 

When something is broken, we generally don’t equate that with blessing. Oh, I lent you my car and you broke it… wow, I feel so blessed! The love of my life just broke my heart,… awesome, I feel so blessed! Yeah right.

 

Brokenness, in our life or in anything, is usually associated with pain and loss. So to start a series equating brokenness of spirit with blessings seems paradoxical, but it can become reality for you.

 

We all experience brokenness in our lives at some time. The overwhelming feeling that your entire world is shattered. You don’t want to raise your head off the pillow, you feel like the tears will never stop flowing. Sometimes there’s a void in your heart that seemingly cannot be filled, a sorrow that cannot be comforted, a wound for which there seems no healing.

 

And you’re not alone in feeling like this. I just spoke at a Junior High camp, and one of the leaders who is a Youth Pastor told me that more than half of his youth group is being medicated for anxiety and depression.

 

If you get knocked down enough, you can feel broken and crushed in spirit.

 

BROKENNESS IS NOT ALWAYS BAD

 

Hosea 10:12 (ESV Strong's)

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

 

Fallow ground is long term, it’s hard and crusty and like cement. Over the years, many of us become tough and  hard, set in our ways and unwilling or unable to change, even to grow, and unresponsive to God.

 

Though it may not feel great at the time, Brokenness exposes the real you underneath. It’s painful, it’s hard work, but we must keep our eyes not on the depressive pain of the moment but on ultimately what God has in store for us.

 

Jim Wilson writes,

Brokenness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A farmer doesn’t plant his crop in cement; rather, he chooses good soil, breaks it up, and then sows the seed. Unbroken soil does not produce abundant crops, but broken, cultivated soil incubates life. A butterfly could never flutter in the spring air without breaking its cocoon and neither could an eaglet emerge without breaking its shell.

 

Jesus could not feed the four thousand until he broke the bread (Mark 8:1-8). The sinful woman could not pour the costly perfume over Jesus until she broke the alabaster box (Luke 7:37).  We could never know salvation without Jesus’ broken body (1 Corinthians 11:24).

 

In many ways, we are not useful until we are broken.

 

 

LIFE INVOLVES BROKENNESS

 

Life often involves brokenness. Often there’s a combination of many causes which add together to form debilitating and overwhelming condition we recognise as brokenness.

 

Someone might hurt you, let you down, attack you or speak ill of you. A situation might break your heart, or a loss, or a fear. Then you lose sleep thinking about it, so you find yourself tired and flat and run down. Next up, your immunity is compromised, so add sickness on top of everything else, and so your misery compounds.

 

Listen, if you’ve experienced this you are not unique. Everyone does at some time, and often there is no immediate cure. I cannot wave a magic wand this morning and make it all better, but we can covenant to walk the road with you. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train!

 

Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

I can’t make your brokenness heal quicker. I can’t solve your life’s problems. But I can offer you a firm hope, and that is this… in my experience, if you turn to the Lord in your brokenness, He is close, closer than ever before, and He is ready to save your crushed spirit.

 

So don’t focus on the path of brokenness you are currently walking, focus instead on the fact that it will not last forever, and when you come out the other side, the blessing will be greater than ever before.

 

WHAT PRICE BLESSING?

 

Most of us want blessing in our lives, we want to be mature, successful, godly and have blessed family, finances and life.

 

I once saw a Ferrari, and I thought that’s a beautiful car. I thought to myself, I can’t afford to have a car like that. But then I stopped and reflected… if I sold my business, my house, my computers and maybe a child, I could probably afford that car. Thing is… I don’t want it that bad.

 

So how bad do you want to be blessed? The Psalmist wrote

 

Psalms 71:20 (ESV Strong's)

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.

 

So how bad do you want to be blessed of God and used to bless others? In an age where most Christians seem to think that God is their personal slave, to get them the prosperity or healing they want, any talk about brokenness seems to fly in the face of popular preaching.

 

But God is more interested in changing what we desire, far more than he is in giving us what we demand. God is constantly refining us, fashioning us, and making us into the people He has destined us to be. But like a sculpture, the process involves chipping bits of stone off us, and that’s painful. Yet as we are broken, but by bit, an new, better, beautiful you emerges.

 

GROWTH IS A PROCESS

 

Growth is a process. It includes setbacks, failures, pain, hard lessons, and yes, brokenness. It involve both spiritual growth, and the renewal of our minds and emotions.

 

Old habits die hard. Old desires cling to us despite our best efforts. Old sins, old struggles, old relationships, all of these take time, and pain, to overcome. But while the process might be painful and difficult, the result is none the less good.

 

So, instead of running from brokenness and avoiding it at all costs, I’d encourage you to take your pain to the Lord. Today you can look beyond your brokenness to the blessing that will come if you fully yield your like to the Lord.

 

James 1:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

BROKENNESS TO CREATE A PERFECT VESSEL

 

Jeremiah 18:3-6 (ESV Strong's)

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

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand

 

Have you ever watched a potter at work. If he creates something that is flawed, perhaps a design fault or a bubble in it, then he doesn’t try and accommodate the flaw… he just breaks it up again, smashes it down into the wheel, and starts afresh.

 

The potter’s purpose is not to destroy his work, but rather, to make a more beautiful, more perfect work—to shape and fashion something more wonderful and more functional.

 

And that’s also how our heavenly potter shapes our lives. Sometimes He can repair a small imperfection, but often times He sees fit to break that piece of clay back to its original form and start again building something far better. I know it hurts, but let the pain drive you to God, not away from Him.

 

If you’re feeling broken, feeling flat, feeling let down or tired or sick or just miserable, then you need to step back and let the potter have a His way. You can try and shape your life, sure, but it won’t be as good as what the master can do.

 

ALLOW THE POTTER TO RESHAPE YOUR LIFE

 

The purpose of this first message in the series is simply to ask you to yield to the hands of the Master Potter.

 

Most of us are pretty self sufficient. We know what we want in life, and we shape our own pot and follow our own destiny. And sometimes brokenness is a wake up call to say, hey, stop trying to shape yourself and let the Master have a go.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

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

 

When you come to Jesus, it’s a new start, but it’s not the end, it’s only the beginning of your new life.  The growth, the moulding, the shaping, the maturing takes time, takes effort, takes discipline and it takes pain to become what God wants.

 

This is why Paul could write,

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

All things, even the pain, even the brokenness, even at your lowest point, He is there.

 

Psalms 23:4 (ESV Strong's)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 

Overcoming brokenness and being shaped into the person God wants is not a passive task on your part. You’re still involved, but the difference is you need to yield to the Lord, and not be in control.

 

Yielding means that instead of getting angry at God, getting bitter, or jumping to solve everything yourself, you trust in God and rejoice in the fact that, despite the pains He is shaping your life into something beautiful.

 

Amy Carmichael tells the story of being in an Indian potter’s workshop. He asked her to to try and make a pot. She tried, but was a dismal failure. He asked her to try again, and she refused, but he insisted. This time though, the potter asked her to relax her hands completely, and he sat behind her, and he placed his hands over hers. Then as the wheel turned, the potters hands guided hers, and a beautiful pot was formed. He congratulated her on making a perfect pot, but she said she hadn’t done it, he had. Oh no, he replied, there’s no clay on my hands, you are the one who made it, not I.

 

IT’S TIME TO LET GO

 

Remember that old song… something beautiful, something good, all my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.

 

That’s the challenge if you are broken today, even if you have been for a long time. Maybe your heart has been broken, maybe your health, your finances, your family or your life. If you feel crushed, if you’ve suffered loss, if you’ve tried and tried and done your best, but you still feel broken inside, and your tired of the struggle.

 

Today it’s time to let go, to let your hands go limp and allow God, the Master Potter to guide you and create the beautiful destiny He has in mind for you.  You can trust Him, you can let go and allow Him to mould and shape you into your destiny.

 

I know some of you are tired. You’re flat, you’re broken, you’re down. Sometimes you just want to cry, or run away, or just stay in bed. But don’t stay broken a moment longer than you need to. Don’t blame God, because He doesn’t bring pain to your life and He’s hurting too. But yield to Him, and let Him make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed you.

 

It all starts with a decision. A decision to let go and let God take control of your hands on the potter’s wheel.

 

 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.”

 

If you’re weary, burdened, bruised or broken, if you’re tired of the fight, tired of the seemingly endless brokenness, then this morning God is calling you. In brokenness there is hope, the incredible hope of blessings. It all starts with a decision…

 

It’s time to yield to Him.

 

Mark Ossola and Chris Garvie- Men’s Conference

Mark Ossola and Chris Garvie- Men’s Conference

August 8, 2019

Join Mark Ossola and Chris Garvie as they share about the Ignite Men's Conference.

Ps Rocky Veach- You’re Called

Ps Rocky Veach- You’re Called

August 8, 2019

Part 2 of our morning with Ps Rocky Veach

Ps Rocky Veach- Going Forward

Ps Rocky Veach- Going Forward

August 8, 2019

Ps Rocky Veach from the US of A brought a beautiful and encouraging message to our people.

Speaking form the book of Hebrews, he shares principles that lead us to look forward to what God has for us, as a church, as people and as the people of God in our nation.

Vision 2- Distorted Vision and Focus

Vision 2- Distorted Vision and Focus

July 21, 2019

I spoke last week about vision and sight, how sight is simply seeing but vision occurs when we add understanding to our sight.

 

It’s not enough to see, we must strive to understand and perceive what we see. This is true of our physical sight, but specially true of our spiritual vision.

 

Matthew 6:22-23 (ESV Strong's)

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

 

If we want to live in abundant life, we need to make sure our vision is healthy. Get our spiritual perspective right and life will go right.

 

VISION IS SEEING THINGS GOD’S WAY

 

True vision happens when we see things from God’s perspective, and

like mountain air on a clear day, His view is pure, unsoiled and He sees eternity. I remember once standing on a mountain and seeing 3 countries at once. I could stand in Bavaria in Germany, and look across Austria to Italy in the distance, like looking across the top of the world.

 

But how can you gain God’s perspective? Well, for years mankind has been trying to become more religious to gain a godlike view of life, but it doesn’t work. The world’s religions tell us that if we meditate more, or do certain rituals, or make certain sacrifices, we can start to see God’s perspective, but they fail miserably. Being more religious won’t help you see life and life’s troubles God’s way.

 

Matthew 13:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes

and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

 

All the religion in the world doesn’t make you see things God’s way. The only way to have this true, eternal vision is to know God, really, truly know Him. And this can affect every aspect of your life… do you see angels or demons?

 

ANGELS DEMONS SLIDE

 

THE ILLUSIONS WE LIVE FOR

 

Much of modern life and advertising is to sell us things that aren’t real. We love escapism and illusions. A mirage is a phenomenon commonly seen across large flat areas, especially when it is hot. It’s an optical illusion, but when you see a mirage, you would absolutely swear on a stack of Bibles that water was out there. The closer you get to it, the further away it gets from you. You can never obtain it because it does not really exist.

 

MIRAGE SLIDE

 

2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

 

We must recognise that our enemy the devil loves illusions too, and is constantly trying to distort our vision, to convince us to strive towards things that ultimately disappoint, disillusion and often don’t exist. Fame, fortune, money and success seem like clearly visible goals, but they never satisfy. Try chasing a rainbow to get the pot of gold that is rumoured to be at the end of the rainbow. The closer you get, the further away it moves!

 

RAINBOW SLIDE

 

University of Sydney psychology professor Dianna Kenny studied 12,665 musicians and stars who died between 1950 and 2014, concluding the chances of famous musicians and rock stars dying from unnatural causes including at suicide are up to 10 times greater than the general population, and that they die up to 25 years younger than average people.

 

In life, if we chase fame, fortune and success they are like a mirage, and if we build our life on an illusion it is bound to collapse at some point. J D Rockefeller, the richest man in the world at the time, was asked how much money is enough and he replied, “just a little more!”

 

YOUR VISION CAN BE DISTORTED

 

Even if we are striving for the right things in life, our vision can become distorted by things around us. The devil uses external factors to influence the way we see things, just like optical illusions can influence us to change we way we see things. So what kind of things distort our vision so we fail to see God’s truth?

 

1.      IGNORANT SEEING- LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

 

If you don’t have enough knowledge you cannot understand what you are seeing, and vision is not just seeing something but understanding it. Here’s an example

 

CHINESE SYMBOL… crisis, danger and opportunity

 

Now I would say I’m fairly intelligent, I hold a couple of Uni degrees and have 35 years experience as a medical professional, but I cannot tell you what this symbol means. Does that mean I’m dumb? No, I just don’t have the code. I cannot attach meaning to it because I lack essential knowledge.

 

Hosea 4:6 (ESV Strong's)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

 

Lack of knowledge destroys truth, and can ultimately destroy you. And the Knowledge to see things God’s way is not general knowledge obtained by researching man’s opinion on the internet, or watching TV or YouTube, and it’s not attained by a some spiritual encounter.

 

Knowledge to live by only comes from knowing God intimately, and you only get to know Him by reading His Word. That’s why I urge you to read the Word of God, every day, do the Bible reading plan because until you know Him you won’t have the necessary knowledge to live the life He destines for you. Unless you know Him, you don’t have the code.

 

That’s what optical illusions are about. They use knowledge that you do have, and some that you don’t have, to trick you into thinking something exists when it really doesn’t … let me show you…

 

SLIDES

 

2.      REVERSE SEEING

 

You cannot drive a car looking only in the rear view mirror, and you cannot live your life looking back all the time, and letting past hurts, criticisms and pain affect you.

 

Learning is a product of what you see plus your experience, which gives meaning to what you see. Our ability to see and understand is greatly influenced by our past experiences, but if we rely only on our past experiences, good and bad, the enemy can often convince us of things that don’t even exist.

 

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

 

For many of us, our sight today is affected by what has happened in the past, our experience. I touched on this last week when I said that you are not an accident, you are precious and special, created by God and He knows you best.

 

No matter what has been said about you in the past, no matter what your reputation, what you’ve done, what others think of you, even what you think of you. You have to learn what God thinks, not what you think based on your past. He says…

 

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV Strong's)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

 

Jeremiah was destined for his God appointed ministry from before he was born. This is why Fiona and I started Lily House, to save babies we believe God has a destiny for every person.

 

Some of you have been deeply hurt by past experiences and words spoken over you, and we need to break that curse, because God sees you as a person of destiny. When you think of things that happened in your past, you give them a power they no longer have.  It’s time for the past to become past at last.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

When you come to Jesus, when you ask Him into your life, you become a new creation. The old has gone, the old sin has lost its hold on you, the old criticisms have no power, the old life, the old reputation, the old addictions can be overcome because you are brand new. We must live it.

 

Psalms 138:8 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

 

3.      POLLUTED SEEING

 

External things can affect how we see, and if we allow stuff into our heads that distorts vision we have no one else to blame for what we permit into our heads except ourselves!

 

Psalms 101:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.

 

We can choose what we watch, but whatever we watch has the power to distort our vision. Garbage in, garbage out. If we let rubbish TV, trashy reality shows, over sexualised music, extreme violence in movies and games or pornography into our minds, we open our vision up to distortion.

 

Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,

 

Putting trashy stuff into your head ruins your spiritual vision. So be careful with what TV shows and movies you watch and what internet sites you hit. If you watch angry, violent movies or play violent video games, you will be a more angry person. If you watch pornography, you begin to see a sexualised image of women you meet.

 

The Bible, worship songs, great teaching and coming to church renews your mind. It keeps your thoughts positive and godly, pure and wholesome, and it makes you a better husband or wife, a better mother or father, and better human being.

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

4.      NEGATIVE SEEING

 

In optometry we have a phenomenon called a negative after image, where the retinal photoreceptors, the rods and cones, adapt to overstimulation and thus lose sensitivity. The photopigment is bleached out of them…

 

Many people are perpetually negative, and they project this negativity on all kinds of situations, and people. They have had so many previous negative experiences, they project these on everything and everyone. You might describe yourself as glass half empty kinda person, but you will never rise above the cares of this world and you will never reach your God appointed destiny if you are constantly negative.  Whatever your past experience, it’s time to change from your stinking thinking to positive, life giving thinking…

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

So when you have a negative thought, don’t invite it in, don’t make a bed for it is the spare room, take it captive a neutralise it, and do it fast, because negativity is infectious and will ruin you spiritual vision!

 

Let’s look at some negative afterimages…

 

NEGATIVE AFTER IMAGES

 

5.      SELECTIVE SEEING

 

All of us have blind spots in our vision. Some are obvious, others subtle.

 

Mums and dads often have a blind spot when it comes to their kids. They see their kids as little angels, despite an obvious trail of destruction.

 

Years ago, my brothers-in-law’s daughter use to hit and hurt my girls, and we had told them not to retaliate. I gently mentioned it to him, and he told me I was bringing up weakling princesses and that they should toughen up. My daughters begged me to let them defend themselves, so we agreed, just this once. Next minute the dad was at me accusing me of raising a brood of thugs!

 

BLIND SPOT

 

In the eye everybody has a blind spot at the point in their visual field where the optic disk is situated. It’s normal. And in our lives, we all have blind spots.

 

Matthew 7:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

 

We often find faults in others in areas of life that are in reality our own faults.

 

6.      FOGGED SEEING

 

Fiona and I once visited a high mountain for a view across the Alps, and after €40 and several cable car rides, we reached the top and saw this…

 

FOGGY ALPS

 

We’re the mountains still there? Of course, but the fog had rolled in and we could not see them. And sometimes the truth is there, right in front of you, but mist and cloud obscures its presence. The enemy is really good at this, and typically he uses the media to cloud our vision.

 

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

If he can blow enough smoke or doublespeak people will be blinded to truth, and even the vision of believers can be fogged. Our society is expert in renaming things and changing people’s perception.

Instead of adultery we talk about having an affair. Instead of homosexual marriage we talk of marriage equality. Everyone wants equality, right? Instead of referring to an unborn baby as a baby or a person, they talk of a foetus, they dehumanise the child, trying to obscure the fact that the number one cause of death in Australia is not heart disease, suicide or car crash it’s abortion!

 

Christians, guard carefully what you believe, and be wary of the smoke and fog that the media throws into your face, or otherwise you will find yourself being convinced of things that are not true, or unable to live, think and behave the way God wants you to.

 

MEANING SLIDES… (even the way you think!)

 

Pray and seek God about moral issues, don’t fall for the popular ideas. It can affect how you see important things in life, and obscure the truth behind a sea of foggy issues.

 

WHAT YOU FOCUS ON…

 

But there is a simple way you can begin to live the life you dream of, and the life God has planned for you.

 

George Lucas the director of Star Wars once said, “Your focus determines your reality.” When you focus on problems, you get more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities. When yOi focus I’m what you want, you become selfish. And when you focus on Jesus, you can live a significant, godly and righteous life. Focus is like the edge of a knife. The narrower it is, the sharper it cuts. So what you focus on in life, and every day, day after day, truly matters in the long run.

 

The human eye is an amazing thing, and it is plugged into a brain that is even more amazing. We’ve looked at all the pressures that distort our true spiritual vision, those from inside of us and those from outside of us, and after this you might find yourself confused or discouraged by the state your life is in.

 

Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong's)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

The Greek word for “set your mind” is PHRONEO, which means set your mind, direct it towards, exercise it, seek and strive for. A fair translation would be to focus your mind in things above, on God’s view, not your own, not the world, not your past and not what others say or think… God’s view.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV-WS)

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The message puts it this way…

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)

It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

 

Graham Cooke said, “What we focus on we give power to,” and he is right.  If you focus on your problems, your inadequacies or how difficult your lot in life is, these ruin your eternal vision. But if you focus on Jesus, the things of this earth seem to grow, dare I say it, strangely dim.  Look at this…

 

PERIPHERY IMAGE

 

We previously talked about negative after images, those negatives we project onto everything, but we can also talk about positive after images. If you turn your eyes upon Jesus, if you fix your eyes on Him, if you are so focussed on Him so that nothing else matters, then everything changes… forever.

 

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.

 

JESUS AFTER IMAGE SLIDE

 

If you do not know this Jesus, I want to give you the chance to know Him right now. If you’ve drifted far from Him, maybe it’s time to refocus on Jesus.

 

As we move forward I want to call you to project Jesus not every situation as we face our future together.

Vision 1- Eternal Vision

Vision 1- Eternal Vision

July 15, 2019

Wouldn’t it be great to have X-Ray vision. Or to see so far ahead you could see into eternity?

 

Of course we cannot do this, but God can do this. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the eyes of God installed into our heads, so we could see like He does? The great news is that we can have this spiritual transplant, we can begin to see as He sees, and when this starts to happen it’s a game changer… it champagnes everything.

 

And because vision does something incredible not only in our heads but also in our hearts, I wanted to do a series on vision, and as an Optometrist, who better to speak on it, right?

 

VISION IS NOT JUST SEEING

 

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

In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

 

Jesus talked about a people, His people, who were seeing the truths of God but not perceiving them. They were religious, pious and dedicated, but hey missed the entire point!

 

Helen Keller once said, “I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light but who see nothing. They see nothing in the woods or sky, nothing in sports, nothing on the street. Their soul’s voyage through this enchanted world is a barren waste.”

 

The difference between sight and vision might seems slight, but it can be an enormous gulf. Vision moves beyond just seeing something, it is understanding it. Perception is not simply the act of seeing, it is making sense of what we see. It adds meaning to what our physical eyes see.

 

COW PICTURE

 

We all see the same things, but we do not all have understanding of what we are seeing.

 

ETERNAL VISION… THE VISION OF FAITH

 

Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NIV)

Meaningless, meaningless, says the teacher, everything is meaningless.

 

Life without faith, without vision, is meaningless. When you ask Jesus into your life suddenly many of the things that seemed meaningless in life now have meaning, because you know that God has a higher purpose for you.

 

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.

 

We see many things around us, but truly inspirational people, whether they know Jesus or not, seem to see more than others. Great leaders, great business people, great sportsmen always have a vision. A vision not of what they physically see, but of what might become.

 

The truest vision is the vision of faith. The world says, “Seeing is believing”; the Gospel says, “Believing is seeing.” And the deeper your faith, the closer your walk with God, the more you start to make sense of the world around us. 

 

DALMATIAN SLIDE, FROG HORSE SLIDE, LIAR SLIDE

 

There is a great spiritual world that we’ve never seen with our physical eyes. It’s there, we just cannot perceive it, but if we could perceive it it would change the way we live, what’s important to us and how we spend our time, money and effort.

 

Remember Elisha and his servant. Surrounded by Syrian troops the servant panicked, but

 

2 Kings 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

 

SHOULD WE HAVE TWO SETS OF EYES?

 

As Christians, we have the opportunity to develop 2 sets of eyes.

 

There is a little fish called “Four Eyes,” in the Amazon, which features large, bulging eyes on top of his head.  This fish can cruise just under the top of the water, with the upper half of each eye above the surface. The top half of his eyes has a different lens, which amounts to a set of bifocals, giving the fish the ability to see both above the water and beneath it.

 

That’s the kind of vision we need as Christians. We need to have our eyes fixed on the needs of those around us and be aware of the snares of the enemy; but at the same time, we should have eyes that look up into a different atmosphere, fixing our eyes on Jesus and eternity!

 

As we sang today: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.”

 

When we have the vision of faith it affects how we perceive many things…

 

1.      HOW DO YOU SEE GOD?

 

Many people see God as angry and vindictive, out to ruin their life and ruin their fun, but nothing could be further from the truth!

 

Matthew 5:8 (ESV Strong's)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 

God loves you. He is not vindictive, He is not angry at you, He is not trying to ruin your fun or your life, He actually has a plan for you. But if you ignore Him, if you don’t listen to His directions, why should He prosper you into the life you’ve always dreamed of? How can He ever do this, if you never run towards Him but always run away from Him?

 

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 you have the right perception, you will see God as who He truly is… a loving, caring Father who wants the best for you, and is on your side! And when you seek Him, He promises you’ll find Him.

 

So if you are distant from God right now, turn to Him!  Most people ignore God, ignore His direction, go their own selfish way, satisfy their own selfish whims, then when it all fails, they blame not themselves and their own foolish decisions, but God…

 

Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong's)

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

 

But God is there, and if you have eyes to see, you’ll see His hand everywhere…

 

CLOUD SLIDE

 

2.      HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?

 

Most people are selfish, but they most often don’t like themselves.  Look in the mirror, do you like hat you see? Maybe you’ve been put down by a parent or partner, told you are worthless and you’ll never amount to anything. And maybe your life so far has become a self fulfilling prophecy. But when you get eternal vision, you see things properly, when you gain vision instead of just sight, you start to believe God who says you are precious and special… David writes,

 

Psalms 139:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

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

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

 

- Babies in the womb grow 8,000 brain cells per second
- You have a unique smell (that’s how your dog knows who you are)
- You have 300 million capillaries in your lungs. Stretched out tip to tip they would stretch from Townsville to Melbourne
- If all your arteries, veins and capillaries were laid end to end they would reach around the world 2 ½ times
- Your bones are 4 times stronger than concrete. So strong a matchbox size piece of bone can support 9 tonnes of weight
- You are so hot, in 30 minutes your body produces enough heat to boil 2 litres of water
- Your brain has 70,000 thoughts per day, and can recognise and remember 50,000 different scents
-If your eye was a digital camera it would be 576 megapixels and distinguish 10 million different colours
- If uncoiled, the DNA in all the cells of your body stretches from here to Pluto and back again (10 billion miles).

 

So start seeing yourself as God does… fearfully and wonderfully made, someone of purpose, destiny and value.

 

3.      HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE?

 

Eternal vision affects how we see people. Most people see other people as commodities, asking “What can I get from this person? What can this person do for me?” Even when we come to Christ, we still are basically selfish and often see others as servants to our end or our causes.

 

But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, your vision starts to change. You begin to see other people, all other people, as precious, as valuable, and as lost without Jesus. Black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, every person has value in God’s eyes. The Holy Spirit can help you see people as God does, and so you are able to look behind the behaviour, the tantrums, the selfishness, the deception and the anger to see the pain, the hurt and the fear that drives this behaviour.

 

Start seeing with God’s eyes and you see people differently…

 

PEOPLE SLIDE

 

Eternal vision allows you to see the heart of people, and to love them unconditionally.

 

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV Strong's)

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

 

4.      HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES?

 

The clearer sight we have of the power of heaven, the less we shall fear the troubles of earth. When you have eternal vision, you realise the truth that circumstances don’t determine your destiny, choices do.

 

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

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

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

 

As Ps Bill shared last week, no matter what you face, no matter what life throws up at you, if you know God and you trust Him, you have nothing to fear. God is a good God, on your best day and also your worst day. He never changed, from everlasting to everlasting He is God,

 

Malachi 3:6 (ESV Strong's)

 “For I the Lord do not change;

 

What changes is us, when we look at the circumstances. Like Peter walking on water until he looked around and saw the wind and the waves, and began to sink. We shouldn’t be just getting by under the circumstances, we should be living above the circumstances! Outside influences affect how we see things.

 

SLIDE OF EXTERNAL FACTORS AFFECTING OUR VISION

 

 

5.      HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR FUTURE?

 

How we see our circumstances also affects how we see our future. Many of us face struggles, face difficulties, face fears, sickness, lack of money, conflict, shame. Yet this morning, God would say look beyond what is happening now in your life to the future I have for you!

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

You can face anything if you have vision for eternity. You can put up with any pain, any trial, and sickness, any temptation, if your eyes are fixed on Jesus. It’s not about sight, because we all see the same thing. It’s about vision, seeing things God’s way, it’s about how we understand and interpret the things we see, all from God’s point of view.

 

The Weaving

 

My life is but a weaving Between my God and me.

I cannot choose the colors He weaveth steadily.

 

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper And I the underside.

 

Not ’til the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas And reveal the reason why.

 

The dark threads are as needful In the weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned

 

He knows, He loves, He cares; Nothing this truth can dim.

He gives the very best to those Who leave the choice to Him.

 

WITHOUT A VISION PEOPLE PERISH

 

The most famous verse in the Bible on vision, oft quoted, is this…

 

Proverbs 29:18 (ESV Strong's)

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,

but blessed is he who keeps the law.

 

The Hebrew word for vision is HAZON, which means a revelation, dream or oracle from God. The word for perish is PARA, meaning cut loose, throw off restraint, to rebel, neglect and perish. It means to self destruct, and if you look around our coast, that’s what you see people doing. Whether it’s self destructing in drugs or alcohol, whether it’s sleeping around, or following worthless ideas, whether it’s just sitting in front of the TV wasting your one life.

 

People without a God given, Holy Spirit inspired, eternal vision for their life often self destruct! Even if things go well, for them they seem to find a way to sabotage it.

 

If their vision is on themselves, their lack of ability, their adverse circumstances, their fears of the future, whatever they face can conquer them because they do not have eyes that see the big picture, the long term goal.

 

 Vision is what drives you forward when all around is dark. We have a vision here at Ignite, to see our church reach our community for Jesus, to see lives changed, and so this vision gives us a purpose, and drives us to move to a different location, to invest more time, more money, more energy.

 

Without a God given vision in your life, without a revelation of how He sees you and the plans He has for you to prosper and not harm you, most people stunt their potential and eventually destroy themselves, sometimes rapidly in an drug overdose or car crash, but many times slowly over years, fading away into drab insignificance. God doesn’t want that for you. God has big plans for your life, because you are precious and special and full of destiny and potential, if only you’d see yourself as He sees you, and listen and obey.

 

LIFE DESTROYS DREAMS

 

For most people, the longer you live the more your visions and dreams die.  Remember as a kid growing up, you could imagine yourself being anything. A doctor, a lawyer, a world class footballer, a rock star. Someone famous, someone important, someone rich and successful and beautiful. Someone of significance in the world.

 

But then you go to school, where perhaps less than stellar marks roll in. Some dreams die, but some survive to graduate school, maybe Uni or your first job. You get married maybe, and you think as a couple the world is your oyster, you have dreams of the perfect life, the perfect family. Then somebody, somewhere, somehow along the way, straightens you up and brings you back down to earth. A few mundane jobs, a few fights with relatives, a loss of something or someone you hold dear, and more dreams die.

 

Today is the day we open our eternal eyes and see again the vision God has for our lives, our futures, our hopes! Seeing things His way puts shattered dreams back together.

 

HABAKKUK- THE PROPHET WITH ETERNAL SPECTACLES

 

As an Optometrist , I can give you glasses that will help you see clearer, but I can’t give you you eternal vision, vision to understand life’s challenges. Only God can.

 

Habakkuk was a prophet in the Bible who was watching the nation he loved fall apart. They faced invasion and enslavement by a cruel people, the Babylonians, and they were taken into exile, without a future and utterly without hope. He questioned God’s love for them, and His justice, and God have him a vision…

 

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

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

 

Having eternal, Holy Spirit inspired, Jesus focused vision gives you a hope and a purpose and a destiny that drives you on, though the best of times and the worst of times, even if the vision seems delayed. Habakkuk wrote the vision down, studied it, cherished it, drew inspiration and hope from it.

 

And when his world fell to bits, when he was tired and flat and uninspired, when life seemed to just be an endless grinding on of misery and trouble, he not only started to see things God’s way, but he actually began to rejoice. His eternal vision caused him to rejoice in the face of complete disaster, to see goodness and joy and light in the darkest of places. See with God’s eyes, and you too will have this incredible power to rejoice in the face of disaster, pain and loss.

 

And that is the challenge to you today. What ever you are going through, whether you are at the top or the bottom, having good days or bad, will you covenant to see with the top part of the bifocal, to see eternity God’s way, to focus on Jesus and not on your circumstances, and see joy even in the tough times… Will you say with the prophet,

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

If you are facing daunting challenges today, if you feel overwhelmed and feel like it’s just so hard to focus on things eternal, come to Jesus.

 

2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Ps Bill Abbenbroek - The Goodness of God

Ps Bill Abbenbroek - The Goodness of God

July 8, 2019

Learn about how you can find the goodness of God even when you are having a bad day or bad year. This encouraging and beautiful word will give you the faith and strength to shine in dark times for the Lord...

Spiritual Battlefield 7- The Church

Spiritual Battlefield 7- The Church

July 1, 2019

We’ve talked about the battlefields we face as believers in the 21st century, and we have looked at the home and family, finances, the mind, our society and the our personal fight, putting in the armour of God. Today I want to finish this series looking at the church, and what role we should play in this great battle for the hearts and minds and souls of our people. We going to look at the church in the battle, and the battle in the church.

 

THE STATE OF THE NATION

 

By any measure the spiritual and moral climate in Australia is poor, with governments making unprecedented moral decisions, backed by the media and social media. Across the country church attendance is down, church influence is down, and recent surveys indicate that the number of Christians that attend church at least once a month is down from 36% in 1972 to just 15% today.

 

There’s plenty of reasons to be down about the state of the nation, but I am strangely upbeat about it. Never before has the church had the incredible opportunities we currently have before us. For decades, we’ve looked the same as the world, but today we are suddenly different. Suddenly the world is noticing us, and they might hate us, but we can be different and the the answer they seek.

 

In all the social upheaval, the prescription for revival remains the same…

 

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV Strong's)

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

RELIGIOUS BUT IRRELEVANT

 

According to McCrindle.com.au, church attendance is down 48% since 1971, but those claiming to have no religion is up 269%. 25% of all church attendees are over 70, with all age groups below 70 under represented, and the average age of a church attender is 53. According to stats, the church is ageing out, and traditional religion appears to offer nothing to the average Aussie.

 

Proverbs 14:34 (ESV Strong's)

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

 

Our nation is not being exalted right now, and up until now it appears that the church offers little to change that situation. McCrindle also asked why Aussies are not going to church, and found this…

 

 47% say the church is irrelevant to my life

26% say they don’t accept how religion is taught

24% say it’s outdated in style

22% had issues with clergy, I’m guessing some of the paedophilia claims

19% don’t believe the Bible, and only

18% said they were too busy.

 

From those figures we can see that most Australians find church irrelevant, outdated and of no use.

 

Philippians 2:15 (ESV Strong's)

be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

 

We are losing the battle for the church and society because we value the vehicle over the victory! The church is not shining, folks, we are barely flickering, but this is the time we must get ignited!

 

WE ARE CALLED TO BE SALT

 

Matthew 5:13 (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.

 

Jesus called His church to be salt and light to a lost world. Why salt? Because it seasons and preserves.

 

Salt on a steak tastes amazing, because it seasons it, and Christians should enhance and favourably influence the people and society around them. Salt is a preservative, just as Christians and the church should resist moral corruption and decay, preserving a godly influence on the culture. Salt also has healing properties, so Christians should bring healing to their generation. Salt also creates thirst, so we should create spiritual thirst or desire among our people for God.

 

In many ways, the church has lost its saltiness, lost its edge, and hence is losing the battle! We are getting thrown out and trampled by men, because we are not flavouring and preserving in our culture, were simply confirming to it, and when we do that we become more confused than a chameleon in a box of skittles.

 

WE ARE CALLED TO BE LIGHT

 

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV Strong's)

“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.

 

Christians should be shining right now, not trying to fit in an appease a small section of society. We should stand for the truth and what is right, and when society gets darker, like a beacon we should shine even brighter. Our nation needs beacons of hope, and even more so in coming years when the moral decisions made now create long term havoc in the next generation!

 

In the battles we fight, the church is rightly seen as irrelevant, sitting on the sidelines while a few take up the fight. It’s not down to government, legislation or media presence. Our nation is in the state it is today because the people of God have abdicated their responsibility to be salt and light.

 

Are we about RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP?

 

People have always been able to take something precious in a relationship and turn it into a religion.

 

At the giving of the 10 Commandments, the backbone of our culture and legal system, we read this,

 

Exodus 20:18-21 (ESV Strong's)

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

 

The people were invited to meet God, but they rejected that out of fear and told Moses to go and get the rules, and we’ll obey. At that point they chose religion and rules over relationship with God. We must not make this mistake. It’s not how we do it that’s important, it’s about obedience!

 

SATAN’S SECRET WEAPON

 

In the battle for the church in our nation, Satan has a secret weapon. This weapon is powerful, surprising, largely overlooked, but like poison gas, it just rolls across our battle lines, renders us useless as soldiers and undermines our ability to oppose him. The name of this satanic secret weapon is… religion!

 

Ignite is not an overly religious church, but are we an overly relevant church?

 

Isaiah 1:11 (ESV Strong's)

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.

 

Isaiah 1:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

 

Church, we all, including us Pentecostals, need to examine ourselves. We say we’re not as religious as others, but we are in so many ways. Over time even great innovations lose effectiveness. Yesterday’s move of God is not good enough. We don’t want religious ritual, we want revival! The vast majority of Aussies consider the church as irrelevant, outmoded and out of touch.

 

Every movement of God has 4 phases, a man, a movement, a machine and a monument. It starts with a man, someone with a vision, like John Wesley, William Booth, etc. this creates a movement, momentum is gathered and people join to serve, and its impact is big. After a while this becomes a machine… looks the same on the outside, but people are just going through the motions. It’s a religion only, which then declines into a monument to past glories.

 

People have always need sucked into this powerful vortex called religion, chosing rules instead of having relationship. Even God’s people…

 

Isaiah 29:13 (ESV Strong's)

this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

 

Mankind is adept at taking relationships and institutionalising them. Traditions aren’t wrong, but when they replace true worship with a God who wants to connect with us, even seemingly good traditions can become, call it what it is, sin… idols! It’s time we committed at Ignite to igniting our culture, and becoming salt and light to our generation, not unquestioningly going through the motions!

 

DO WE THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER?

 

Please understand, I’m not suggesting we throw out everything you hold dear in church. Many traditions are worthwhile because they remind us what we are about, even outside the church. Pausing at 6pm to remember the fallen at the RSL is a time honoured tradition.  And we build our own traditions here in church, such as the way we do communion, worship, and the way we pray. They’re not wrong, they may not need to change, but they do need to be examined.  Are we just doing church for church people the way we’ve always done church, without even thinking of relevancy?  The question is not one of religion, it’s one of relevancy.

 

And like it or not, as statistics show us, whether you enjoy church or not, the bulk of Australians think the church is irrelevant, outdated and an exclusive club they don’t want to join! It’s a battle the church is losing because we choose to stick our heads in the ground and play holy huddles instead of fighting for the souls of our generation! I’d rather be relevant than religious, but I’m not talking a complete rebuild of church, it’s just a tweak in the way we think and do things.

 

Years ago my Uncle Erick use to walk to his church in his suit and tie, and he would wave to the same guy every Sunday who was sitting in his porch.  One Sunday, Erick was heading to church in his Sunday best, and noticed this man wasn’t there. He stopped and the man’s head popped out of a hole. He was repairing and cleaning the grease trap, the single smelliest and most revolting job ever. God spoke I my uncle, he went home, changed into overalls, went back and jumped into the pungent hole to help the man. He skipped church that day, but a few weeks later this man came to Christ.

 

God contrasts religious verses true fasting and sacrifice in Isaiah 58. He talks of religious fasts, but then

 

Isaiah 58:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

 

My uncle chose relevancy over religion that day, and God calls us to the same today. We don’t want a holy huddle. We want a Holy Spirit explosion across our community! People don’t understand Bible reading, or prayer, or communion or worship, but they do understand love, caring, integrity, valuing people, providing for people in need. They even understand fun, relevant messages and kind words.

 

OUR CALLING- OUR SECTION OF THE FRONT

 

In this mighty battle for our nation, we have been given a section of the front…

 

The vision of Ignite church is to be a community of faith reaching out to disbelieving or dislocated people to draw them into and nurture a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We do this by creating an irresistible church where people are encouraged and equipped to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.

 

In summary, we are called to be salt and light to our generation by making church irresistible to the unchurched. The unchurched include those who once were in church but left, for whatever reason, and also those who have never been in church. Is our church irresistible?

 

The world has so many questions about so many aspects of life, and the church is God’s answer,  but we still struggle to be relevant. Often we doggedly hang onto religious traditions that our culture finds irrelevant, frankly at times we love the way we do church more than we love Jesus, or the lost!

 

John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

I’m not talking compromise here… we do not compromise the Word of God, we do not compromise our love for others. All I’m suggesting is that we think about the way it’s packaged, making church for general consumption rather than a boutique religious experience.

 

Quand je parle en francais, tout le monde ici, ne comprend pas.. What did I say? You don’t know, because I said it in French, and most of you don’t speak French. In the same way, if we speak Christianese, if we develop our own religious culture, if we act like religious bigots or religious weirdos, how will others hear and understand the message of the cross.

 

I’m not suggesting we water down God’s Word or standards, or that we go “seeker friendly,” trying desperately not to offend people.  I’m just suggesting we show our generation God’s love in a language and a form they can relate to, not in religious irrelevancy, and that our church starts meeting the needs of our community in a way that makes sense to them.  Let me ask you…

 

Would you change something you enjoy in church if it meant that we bore more fruit? Would you give up something you like if it meant Ignite became more relevant and people got saved? Would you invest time, money, commitment and prayer into a church that was salt and light? I would.

 

Going forward I believe we must commit to stand on the following core truths…

 

1.      UNITY

 

If we fight each other then we get nowhere, and the enemy wins. As a pastor, I constantly get people telling me their opinions on how we should do things at Ignite, but in the end these are just opinions on a Scripture, they’re not Scripture. Church, however heartfelt our opinions, we need to lay these aside and agree to disagree agreeably, but join in fully whether it suits us or not. If you love others more than your own opinion, we will not have disunity.

 

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.

 

Division destroys relationship and hence our relevancy. I know many of you have different opinions on many areas, but I appreciate the maturity you have to lay your opinions aside and serve side by side. Some can’t do it, some leave in a huff because I won’t do what they want, but folks, I’m sick of playing church and being irrelevant, and I will not let even well meaning opinion deflect our vision. When we argue and fight over matters of religion, the devil wins, not you, or me or God!

 

Every decision we make as a leadership is going to be made through the lens of our calling… would this make us more irrelevant to the unchurched, or more irresistible. Unity is irresistible, and infighting makes us an irrelevancy.

 

2.      COMMUNITY

 

We have a wonderful community here, and it draws people, especially those hurting and lonely. But we could lose this edge in a heartbeat if we become cliquey and inward looking.

 

Romans 12:10-13 (ESV Strong's)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

 

So don’t just attend church, invite someone to lunch, catch a coffee midweek, pray with someone, send a text, love one another in practical ways, because this builds the community we all crave.

 

This was easy when we had 40 people at church. It’s a little harder with 180, but let me dispel this untruth… a bigger church doesn’t mean an impersonal one. We might have to change how we do community, tweak it or systemise it, but we must be willing to grow and change to build the kind of community that welcomes and accepts the unchurched.

 

3.      CONNECTION

 

Again through the lens of our vision to reach the unchurched, are we connecting with our community? The short answer is… no! Sadly, this suburb is mostly unaware that we exist at all.

 

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.

 

We will not connect with our community by being more religious. They notice when we love them, they see our good works, not what we say, our good works, and that earns the right to speak the words of God to them.

 

So our pastoral care team are looking at ways we can reach our community. Youth is a way, love came down was a way, moving to downtown is a way. We have a great community, but we must couple that with great connections into society at large.

 

BECOMING IRRELEVANT OR IRRESISTIBLE?

 

I want everything we do here at Ignite to be relevant, again through the lens of our core vision. If we reach out to people, or if you invite someone who isn’t going to church, and we are so religious in how we do things that they feel isolated and alienated, then we will not grow. I don’t want to put live chickens under dead hens!

 

Without compromising our gospel message or godly values, we need to make Ignite the church you are confident and happy to bring others to. We are working on it, we’re doing well, better than most, but I want more.. We can be better.

 

1 Corinthians 3:10 (ESV Strong's)

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.

 

You may not know this, but we think and pray long and hard about how we put services together.

 

We love putting an awesome welcome team in the car park and at the door, because every unchurched person understands the feeling of being welcomed. It’s love in action and it’s irresistible to all.

 

We choose worship carefully. We do songs that people who may have been in church from years past are recognised. If you come to a new church, if all you hear are new songs your first thought is, “I don’t belong here.” If you hear one song you recognise, even a hymn, you feel welcomed. So in worship our style is not dance, or rap, or heavy metal, it is soft rock, a style that appeals to most everyone. And we always do at least one song almost everyone who has had anything to do with church recognises.

 

The preaching is again carefully thought out. Some of you want me to preach through Old Testament books. I have nothing against that at all, may do it sometime, but right now I believe God wants me to preach topically about things that matter on a Sunday, because that’s irresistible to the unchurched.

 

What would draw the average Aussie more? A verse by verse study through Ezekiel, or a sermon on fear or doubt or loneliness or loss. I preach this way because it’s relevant, and I ask the Lord to provide life and hope and the good news about Jesus to our generation.

 

CHANGING OUR GENERATION

 

At Ignite, our focus going forward is going to be the community. I’m not here to play church, I’m not here to build a nice, comfortable church. I want to make a difference in our generation, and this morning I’m asking you to commit to joining me. I’m not saying we need to change everything, just examine what we do through the lens of being relevant to our people. Remember, the vast majority of people surveyed said church is entirely irrelevant to their life, and I aim for Ignite to be the exception!

 

Remember, God’s prescription for our nation is still the same…

 

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV Strong's)

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

Today I ask you to humble yourself,  to put your preferences and opinions aside, and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.

 

Are you content with just doing church, or do you want to become salt and light to this generation? I’m asking you to you join me in creating an irresistible church, one that attracts the unsaved? Will you join me in winning our generation to Jesus, and building the church He desires for us?

Spiritual Battlefield 6- Suit Up in the Armour of God

Spiritual Battlefield 6- Suit Up in the Armour of God

June 23, 2019

The armour of God is next, because over the last several weeks we have been doing a series looking at the various battlefields we face as believers in the 21st century. We have examined battles in society, the mind, the family and the battle for money, but no discussion of the battles we face would be complete without looking at the daily, personal battle we fight, for high we need the armour of God.

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

 

We can not withstand the enemy’s attacks if we are not suited up and properly prepared, and we will not take ground for the Kingdom of God if we fail to use the armour of God and the weapons God provides for us.

 

THE TRUE ENEMY

 

We must remember that our true enemy is not people, governments, family members, debt or mental stress. The true enemy is seen in Ephesians 6…

 

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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.

 

We need to be strong and to stand in His strength, because our enemy the devil and his troops are fighting hard. But we can and I believe will win! We need to recognise, protect ourselves from and take ground from our true enemy the devil. He is real, he is nasty but he also is a defeated foe!

 

The Bible speaks of the devil more than 100 times. Not once is he a short, red, goat-like dude with a pitchfork. Not once does he enter into fiddling contests down in Georgia.

 

CS Lewis said it well: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

 

Scripture makes it clear that Satan is real and is always working against God and His kingdom. He might ultimately be a defeated foe, but he’s still kicking up mischief, controlling and manipulating people to achieve his evil ends. That's why we need the armour of God.

 

1 John 5:19 (ESV Strong's)

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

 

There is a real spiritual war being waged against God, and every believer finds themselves in this spiritual battle. It’s in our homes and families, it’s in our finances, it’s in our society and it’s also in our heads. When we understand that we are in a battle, our first thought should be “How can I keep from becoming a casualty on this spiritual battlefield?”

 

So yes, Christian. Satan is real and he is still very active. But why do we still need armour of God if Satan was defeated on the cross?

 

Just as an army that has been dealt a decisive blow can still inflict casualties and destruction on individual soldiers, Christians can become also casualties on the spiritual battlefield.  Though we may not lose our salvation—nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord—we can nevertheless be gravely wounded in our spiritual life, as our defeated foe pursues a scorched earth policy.

 

Warfare and spiritual battles are not reserved for the super-spiritual among us. Every one of us who bear the name of Christ are soldiers in His cause, and we require the armour of God so we can be protected from the battle that rages around us.

 

IT’S TIME TO SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD!

 

Ephesians 6:13 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

 

We are instructed to take up the whole armour of God, not bits and pieces, the entire armour of God. Why? Because we need all the armour and weapons in the various battles we face. When Paul wrote this, he was imprisoned, so he likely based his illustration on the Roman soldiers who guarded him. So let’s work our way through Ephesians 6 and see how each piece of the armour of God relates to these battle fronts.

 

1.      BELT OF TRUTH

 

Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong's)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,

 

A soldier’s belt wasn’t a fashion accessory to hold their pants up. It was an important piece of the armour, had various other pieces fastened to it, most noticeably the sword. It’s the belt of truth, and truth is the foundational element of protection for the Christian soldier.  Jesus prayed,

 

John 17:17 (ESV Strong's)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

 

God’s Word is complete truth and it never changes, so the piece of the armour of God upon which our defence hangs is the Word of God. Society’s morals change every 2 minutes, and the world accuses us of being bigoted, draconian and out of touch, but we’re not… We build our defence on Biblical truth that has stood for generations, and we stand on the Word of God, regardless of how culture changes and media react.

 

Scripture should be the basis of the way we live, raise our kids, do business, vote, and connect with our communities.  We must not compromise truth, now more than ever, but we must also commit to loving those whom we disagree with, even those who hate and attack us…

 

Ephesians 4:15 (ESV Strong's)

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

Listen, for too long Christians have had truth, and inflexibly stood for truth, but not showed love. The belt of truth needs to be based on God’s unfathomable love, which doesn’t mean we agree with gays or transgenders or abortionists or sex workers or politicians or media commentators, but that we love them unconditionally, all the while holding onto truth.

 

2.      BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong's)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

 

We must live righteous lives. To be a Christian and walk in a way unworthy of the calling to which we have been called is to march into battle with chinks in your armour of God.

 

Godly character and a right relationship with God are necessary in protecting our heart and allowing us to fight effectively for purity and justice. We must guard our heart and be righteous,

 

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV Strong's)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

 

Philippians 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

 

We are made righteous through faith in Christ, but we still have to protect our heart. We must be living right, living with integrity, we cannot and must not compromise in this present time of darkness. If I claim to be a Christian but live a life of moral compromise, not only do I lack integrity and one day my sins will find me out, but in life’s battles I’m exposed and open to satanic attack.

 

3.      SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

 

If you live a righteous life, this righteousness brings you peace. And when you experience true inner peace, you can’t wait to share this peace with others you know who are stressed by life.

 

Ephesians 6:15 (ESV Strong's)

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

 

The Roman soldier’s footwear was not fashion, neither was it prestige like some sneakers are today. It is what enabled him to travel further and faster than his enemies, through any terrain he may encounter.

 

In the same way, the peace of the gospel is what equips us to travel over rough roads as we carry this same gospel to others. These strong sandals were called caligae, and they had heavy soles with hobnails in them to provide traction for the wearer. These nail studs ensured that the soldier could not easily be pushed backwards in battle.

 

The gospel of peace is like that, it’s strong and allows us to stand for the truth, without compromise and without being pushed back against our will!

 

4.      SHIELD OF FAITH

 

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

When Paul wrote these verses, the average height of a man was just over 5 feet, so the large shield he refers to offered a great deal of protection. Similarly, the shield of faith in the armour of God protects believers from many troubles.

 

The Roman shield was covered in leather and usually soaked with water to extinguish flame-tipped arrows or darts. These arrows were launched from a distance, and without water, the shield could be set on fire. In the same way, lust, pride, anger, contempt, or any number of sinful reactions can hit their mark and set our minds and hearts ablaze with wicked thoughts and desires.

 

But faith counteracts that in the armour of God! In the 21st century, we fight on many battlefields. Whether we are concerned about moral decline in our society, or face fears, pain or anguish in our minds. Whether we face family conflict, people we love hurting us, or if we have money problems, and we live in fear over finances. Whatever battle we face, the shield of faith can protect us from all the enemy’s fiery darts.

 

1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong's)

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

 

HOW TO TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH

 

How do you get faith? Faith is not some mental exercise you have to stir up and convince yourself of.

 

Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Faith is not trying to convince yourself that a miracle will happen. It’s not ignoring the facts and believing fairy stories. Real faith, the shield of faith that protects you from attack is unwavering. Consider Abraham…

 

Romans 4:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

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 knew he was infertile at 100 years of age. He didn’t ignore facts, he didn’t hope against hope, he didn’t try and convince himself about a fairy story. No, he looked the facts straight in the eye and said, “I recognise that you are facts and are big. But my God is bigger than you!”

 

So how do you pick up the shield of faith? By knowing a Him. Do the reading plan, pray, and come to church. When you do this, you get to know Jesus Christ, and begin to trust Him. Faith is not something you have to drum up… godly faith occurs naturally when you know Jesus intimately. Know Christ, and the more you know Him the more you realise that He will never leave you, and never forsake you. Faith is simply knowing God so well that you trust Him totally… that’s real faith, the shield in the armour of God!

 

Now here is where is gets exciting. You don’t have to stand alone. You must not face this dangerous enemy by yourself. This is why I am begging you to come to church, because when we are under attack, especially if sin is involved, we isolate ourselves. But that’s the enemy’s strategy, it’s not the battle strategy of God!

 

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!

 

Romans 1:12 (ESV Strong's)

that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

 

The Roman army never sent their soldiers into the field alone. The real strength of their battle plan was when they joined their shields together as a unit.

 

Roman soldiers joined their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier to enemy attack,  called the tortoise. They linked their shields front and back, left and right and even over the top. The strength of their one shield was when it was joined to other shields. The strength of our shields of faith is when we join them together.

 

So if you want to take up the shield of faith, to protect yourself from the darts of the enemy, get close to God and join with others here who can stand with you in faith! If you don’t have a church you like, come here for a time, just join your faith with ours and be protected.

 

5.      HELMET OF SALVATION

 

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

and take the helmet of salvation,

 

Like a helmet covering our head, our salvation protects us from being dealt a deathblow. Those who are in Christ cannot ultimately be defeated by Satan. If you know Jesus, if you have asked Him into your heart as Lord and Saviour, then you are saved, you have eternal life and this protects you.

 

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV Strong's)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The helmet protects your mind, and we need this protection today given the attacks on believers by social media, the media, and every area of our 21st century lives!

 

6.      SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

 

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

 

We have looked at our defences, but what is the one offensive weapon in the armour of a God? Just as every Roman soldier would be equipped with a gladius (that’s Latin for sword), every believer is equipped with the Word of God.

 

A sword is a weapon used both for offence and defence in the armour of God. So is Scripture.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

To wield the sword of the Spirit is to use Scripture to defend against attacks on truth and to “destroy strongholds” of false beliefs.  We must use Scripture against any opinion, ideology, or worldview which would place itself in contention with the Word of God.

 

Of course, in any movie you’ve ever watched that involves any sort of sword fight (or light sabre battle) you’ll notice that they are constantly deflecting blows from the enemy—as often as they are attacking with their own sword. And so it is with the Sword of the Spirit. We use it to defend ourselves against error and attacks on the truth of God by knowing and wielding Scripture.

 

In Matthew 4, Jesus responds to every accusation and attack from Satan by saying, “It is written,” and so should we. The world tells us that the Bible is old school, bigoted and out of date, but

 

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.

 

We cannot wield this offensive weapon unless we know it well. So join us, do the Bible Reading plan. Read God’s Word, study it, learn it, memorise it. It’s your sword in the armour of God, and it is powerful to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD

 

We have discovered that as believers we are in the midst of spiritual battles. But God doesn’t leave us exposed to enemy attacks! We thank God that we are well-equipped to stand in the evil day. No matter what may happen, our eternity is secure and Christ’s ultimate victory is certain.

 

To those here who have been greatly wounded in the battle, and that’s many of you here today, —take heart! You may be wounded, you may have suffered attacks from Satan, from worldly people or even from fellow Christian’s, but you are not defeated.

 

The Christian life is not a vow to never lose a battle, but it is a commitment to always fight. To take up the armour of God, stand and fight and join our faith together to grow strong and become a real threat to the enemy.

 

I for one want to be a massive threat to Satan in our area. We need to get our defence right, but then we must be ready to attack and take ground for the Kingdom of God!

 

To those here who are weary, under a constant barrage of fiery darts—take courage. We need not rely on our own strength, but on the strength of Christ, and the faith of others around you. He is never fatigued and never grows weary, and we are keen to stand with you and fight shoulder to shoulder.

 

To those who are distressed at the state of our nation and our world—take comfort. We know that although darkness creeps in from every side, God has equipped us to stand firm in the evil day and against the schemes of the devil. You may think the church has suffered a few setback recently, but in a God a setback is just a set up for a come back!

 

Today, let’s commit to stop running. Stop ducking an weaving and stop barely standing in the battles we face in life. It’s time to start fighting and start taking ground. I am prepared today to commit my life to serving Jesus, my home, my family, my finances, my mind, my dreams, my future.

 

We’ve talked about the battlefields we face as believers, our society’s moral breakdown, our minds, our families and our finances. Today we are equipped to stand and then to take ground. So what about you? Will you stand with me to join our faith shields and fight the good fight together?

 

Colossians 2:15(ESV Strong's)

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

 

Ephesians 6:11 (ESV Strong's)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

 

Are you battle weary? Do you feel alone, being picked off by the enemy? If you feel the pressures of life, it’s time we took a stand… let’s do it together.