Overcoming Discouragement

September 18, 2017

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, walls that had been broken down for centuries. He inspired the people, they began to build, but opposition, the massiveness of the task and internal conflicts threatened to stop the project.

 

Nehemiah 4:10

In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”

 

You probably started the year full of hope. A new year, a new dream of what could be.you set out with expectancy and hope, trusting the Lord, believing that this was the year of breakthrough. You kept going for a while, suffered a few disappointments, but soldiered on in your business, in your family or in your ministry.

 

But then came the middle of the year… things got tough, disappointments abound, the hopes of the start of the year grew dim. Discouragement is a constant spectre lurking near the edge of your mind, especially if you want to serve God and make a difference.

 

Life is filled with problems, challenges, and disappointments. The school fundraiser didn’t go as well as we had hoped. The team finished the season last despite our best coaching efforts. The event you organised did not receive glowing reviews despite all your hard work and late nights of preparation. The report from the doctor was worse than we expected. The bills pile up higher than we’d hoped. Family issues you thought had been dealt with are raised again.

 

Things happen that mess up our best-laid plans. Often, we find ourselves let down and discouraged. Sometimes, it’s so bad that we just want to give up. Discouragement sets in and says, “Why bother? Nobody cares anyhow.” Despite the circumstances, discouragement doesn’t have to overwhelm us. We can learn from it, benefit from it, and we can overcome it.

 

Discouragement ought to be our first indication that it is time to pray. We often become discouraged because we get too busy and neglect prayer. Many believers are discouraged by life’s problems and then lack the confidence that they can deal effectively with life’s toughest challenges. We need to call on God to help us understand His guidance in the midst of our circumstances and disappointments.

 

THAT IS DISAPPOINTING

 

Disappointment is inevitable… discouragement is optional. I started this year with high hopes, many of which have not been reached. We all do. And when we start to feel like that, discouragement is a downhill spiral that can take over our lives!

 

Life is full of disappointments, and as these build and start to pile up, they seem to accumulate and weight down upon us, even to the point of overwhelming us, and that is discouragement. Discouragement makes you tired, it saps your strength and eventually it breaks your heart!

 

And this is commonplace, in life and in the Bible. Most Bible heroes went through times of doubt and discouragement, men like David and Gideon, Joshua and Moses, Paul and Peter and John. Yet in the midst of great persecution Paul can write this…

 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

 

How can he do that? I’m sure he fought discouragement, but it never overwhelmed him and it never crushed him. He was able to take disappointment and change the first letter to H… His Appointment!

 

While discouragement can cause depression and the inability to act, it can also motivate a person, giving renewed determination. Like Nehemiah, we can let discouragement cause us to find a way to solve the problem. We can pray, plan, and then move ahead, knowing that God goes with us.

 

CAUSES OF DISCOURAGEMENT

 

The dictionary defines discouragement as “to deprive of courage, hope, or 

confidence; dishearten; dispirit.”

 

I define it as feeling overwhelmed by by feelings of inadequacy. Notice that feelings appears twice, because if you step back and look at it, discouragement is not fact, not substance, it is all feeling!

 

There are three underlying causes for discouragement: (1) lack of confidence in God; (2) lack of confidence in ourselves; or (3) lack of direction for the future.

 

These are all made to seem worse by external factors. Circumstances, other people’s words and opinions, timing, defeat and ridicule all make discouragement seem worse, but the true cause is internal… it is within you and I, and it is part of human nature.

 

For example, I might sing somewhere, and hundreds even thousands are blessed, and many people send words of encouragement. Then one person criticises. Which do you think I think about the most? You do something in church and everyone likes it, but one person criticises. Who do you remember? Why is it always your wife?

 

As these pressures build up, I find I rehearse the negative things over and over in my mind, until I approach overwhelm. And it is this feeling of overwhelm that fuels discouragement.

 

God knows and understands. He understood the task Joshua faced to enter the Promised Land, and how discouraged he could become. Moses was gone, he was leading alone and asked to do what his mentor couldn’t do. In Joshua 1, God shows us that courage is the opposite of discourage, and He calls on Joshua to be “strong and courageous”, then God gives him this key…

 

Joshua 1:8

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

 

Discouragement is the overwhelm you feel, the down you feel, the inadequacy you feel when things do not work out. Interestingly, I frequently get very discouraged after a triumph. The feeling of flatness after the high of something great is also discouragement. That’s why God directed Joshua to His Word. Staying close to God is the key!

 

 

HOW TO OVERCOME THE OVERWHELM OF DISCOURAGEMENT

 

Discouragement is a feeling. It can cripple you, it can make your life miserable, it can drive people away from you, but it is just a feeling. So how can you overcome discouragement and face life’s difficulties and challenges with the opposite spirit… encouragement?

 

1.     KNOW GOD CARES ABOUT YOU

 

The first step is to understand what God thinks of you. If you see God as harsh and judgemental, no wonder you get discouraged! Step 1 is understanding what God really thinks about you.

 

Psalms 139:14

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

 

 Psalms 17:8

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

 

Deuteronomy 7:6

The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession,

 

1 Peter 2:9

 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

To start overcoming discouragement, start by seeing Yourself as God sees you. You’re precious, you’re special, you’re chosen, you’re indwelled by His Spirit. You’re not a mistake, you’re not a failure and you’re not an embarrassment.

 

I read the testimony of a girl named Jenny, born with Down’s Syndrome. Discouraged and hurt by what kids said at school, feeling like a mistake, her mum challenged her like this… I’ll give you $5,000 if you can find anywhere in the Bible where God tells you you’re a mistake. She never got the money, but she concluded, “God doesn’t make mistakes, and that’s the truth, no matter what we sometimes think.” Smart girl!

 

2.     RIDE OUT THE STORM

 

Many people never realise their full potential because they become discouraged by the battles they face, and they give up too soon. We must never quit.

 

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

 

Picture this… Age 22, Failed in business, 23, Ran for Legislature—defeated, 24, Again failed in business, Age 25, Elected to Legislature, 26 sweetheart died, age 27 Had a nervous breakdown, age 29 Defeated for Speaker, 31 Defeated for Elector, 34 Defeated for Congress, 37 Elected to Congress, 39 again Defeated for Congress, then at age 46, Defeated for Senate, ran for Vice President at 47, Defeated, ran for senate age 49, and again defeated, but at age 51, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States!

Don’t give up, ride out the storm, and make no big decisions in the worst of it!

 

3.     REALISE GOD USES ORDINARY PEOPLE

 

We don’t have to be spiritual giants to experience God’s grace in our lives. He chooses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things for Him.

 

1 Corinthians 1:26-27

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

 

God doesn’t need you to be pretty, talented, gifted or anything else, He just needs you to be available and willing. He delights to do the extraordinary with the ordinary!

 

4.     DON’T BE DEFEATED BY THE NEGATIVES

 

I bet you anything that, if you listen, you’re surrounded by voices saying you can’t, or it will never work. That’s what the world dishes up every time. Listening to these voices discourages you. It’s time to take your eyes off the negatives and place them firmly on something or someone positive.

 

Isaiah 54:17

no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

 

And trust me, opinions are like noses… everyone has one, and most of them smell bad!

 

5.     REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE SPECIAL

 

We mentioned this before, you are not an accident, you are created in God’s image to love Him and serve Him. You are special, you are precious.

 

Isaiah 43:4

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honoured, and I love you,

I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

 

If you are discouraged, you need to stop and get your head around the fact that you are valuable to God. He chooses you, and he is a loving Father longing to wrap His arms around you and love all over you. Listen, it’s not what you do for Him that makes Him love you, it’s just that you are you, and He loves you no matter what, and no matter what you’ve done!

 

God uniquely created us and designed us to serve Him. No one else can do what we can do for Him. You are uniquely gifted to minister to people no one else will ever meet or touch. You must not give up just because there are challenges and obstacles. Don’t get discouraged, get encouraged!

 

6.     WATCH YOUR BEHAVIOUR

 

I said before, what we focus on determines what we become, so not only must we focus on Christ, but we must also focus on our behaviour.

 

1 Peter 2:12

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

 

If you are feeling discouraged, you need to pay close attention to your behaviour.

 

We need to do what is right, no matter how we feel. We should make sure our behaviour determines our feelings rather than allowing our feelings to determine our behaviour. People will say, “I’m just being myself,” but hey, why not be your best self?

 

Maybe you’re feeling so down and discouraged and miserable that you think you cannot change your behaviour. You might be grumpy and snappy, yelling at the kids and snapping at those you love. Well, if the pastor or a police officer knocks on the door, I bet you’re going to change your behaviour just like that. Don’t say you can’t change, because when you need to you can!

 

Watching our behaviour and being our best self not only changes your discouraging feeling, but it can set you free to be creative, confident, and committed.

 

These days people leave church of the slightest reason. A decision didn’t go your way, you heard something you didn’t like, you did something and it wasn’t well received. Watch your behaviour! If you keep serving, keep faithful and keep focussed on Christ, you will be raised up in due time.

 

7.     MIND YOUR LANGUAGE

 

I’m not talking about swearing, because most of you don’t, I’m talking about how you speak about yourself. If you constantly speak words over your life they become self fulfilling prophecy…

 

Proverbs 23:7

 

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

 

Me Jesus put it this way...

 

Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

What you say constantly reveals what is going on in your heart. If you constantly tell yourself you can’t do it, it’s too hard or you’re not worth it, then your actions follow suit most often!

 

Fiona pulled me up just recently. I constantly say I’m tired, several times a night, and she pointed it out. If I don’t think about it or say it as much, guess what? I don’t feel as tired.

 

Watch what you say, to yourself and others, because it directly affects what you do.

 

8.     BE PERSISTENT, BUT GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO FAIL

 

Luke 18 tells the story of the persistent widow, who badgered a judge to give her protection until he said…

 

Luke 18:5

because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”

 

Korean Grandma Sa-soon went for her licence for the first time at age 60, and failed the written portion, consisting of 40 multiple choice questions 949 times; the concept of many of the questions were confusing to her, being an elderly woman living in a remote village. Finally, on the 950th attempt she got a passing grade of 60 and moved on to the actual driver's test which she only failed 4 times before getting passing marks. She became a national hero in South Korea, and Kia gave her a car for free!

 

 

 Persistence is essential, because discouragement makes you want to give up. You also need to give yourself permission to fail, because we all fail at some point. Failure is not permanent, it’s a learning process. We try, we fail, we figure out where we went wrong and correct it.

 

9.     FOCUS ON CHRIST

 

What you focus on has a huge bearing on what you become. The voices of the world are shouting at you all the time. But when you focus on Jesus, the discouragement in your heart will be replaced with peace…

 

Isaiah 26:3

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

 

No life is meaningless if Christ is at the center of it. Want perfect peace in your life? Then set your mind on the Lord. When you look at Him, the negatives disappear. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the negatives will grow strangely dim.

 

What we focus on is what we become. It’s reflected in our speech and our actions.

 

The answer to discouragement is getting our focus off ourselves and our limited resources and off our current situation with all of its disappointments, and off the negatives things people are saying about us, instead making a conscious effort at focusing on the unlimited power of an omnipotent God.

 

He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Even in the face of life’s greatest challenges, His grace is sufficient. When we give our discouragement to God, He can encourage and draw us ever closer to Him.

 

I know the year is getting on, and I know many of us are tired and flat. The things we hoped for haven’t happened, the things we feared may have happened.

 

Listen… today is the day we commit to taking us eyes off our circumstances, off our tiredness, off the discouragements and disappointments and off what people say, and we place our eyes firmly on Jesus Christ!

 

FILL ‘ER UP!

 

And how do we actually focus on Christ? Well, it involves some commitment and effort. Don’t sit back and think your life will be on fire for Christ by you sitting and wasting time working or watching movies!

 

We are like a car… when you’re discouraged, your tank is empty. You only see the circumstances and hear all the negative words. You get discouraged, but there is nothing in the tank to focus upon. You need to be filled up, but what do you fill your mind with?

 

Philippians 4:8-9

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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

If you are discouraged right now, you need to start filling your mind and your heart with the things of God. Get off the TV, get off Facebook and get onto the daily Bible readings. They are short, they are action packed and they will build into your life and fill you up.

 

And connect with positive people. Connect with people whose tanks are full, or at least more full than yours. And you find them in church. Listen, it’s time for you to skip the kids football or Sunday morning shopping and get to church! I am watching people grind down and get discouraged, but instead of plugging in to our church family, they’re isolating themselves. Whatever you face today, however discouraged, focus on Christ, fill your mind with the Word of God and get into church, and I promise you  new day will dawn, and year heart will be filled with hope!

 

If you are feeling discouraged today, you need to get filled up, and right now!

 

Today is the day you hand your burden of discouragement to Jesus and let Him carry it for you, because He says…

 

Matthew 11:28-30

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.”

 

Today many of you are struggling with discouragement. Please don’t go it alone, and don’t carry the burden a moment longer! Come to Jesus this morning, come and let His Spirit refill your tank, to empower you to overcome discouragement. When we respond to God in faith we delight Him, and He pours out His blessing and His guidance upon your life.

 

You can sit in your chair and say, I’m discouraged but I don’t want to go forward. If you get up and respond to the Lord today, God delights in that act of faith. It takes faith to come forward, but I have prayed that for those who respond, God’s Holy Spirit will supernaturally fill them up.

 

Coming to the front today is not an admission of guilt, or sin or of failure. It’s an admission of weariness and discouragement, it’s an admission that your spiritual tank is empty and it’s an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to fill you up.  It is you saying you’re open  to give it all to God and let Him have His way.

00:0000:00

GPS- God’s Positioning System

September 11, 2017

Psalms 1:1-4

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

 

As humans, we all want to know where we have come from, where we are now and most importantly, where we are going. In our cars and on our phones we all now have GPS devices, but what is a GPS and how does it work, and does God offer a GPS?

 

 

GPS- GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM

 

 

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of about 30 satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km. The system was originally developed by the US government for military navigation but now anyone with a GPS device, be it a SatNav, mobile phone or handheld GPS unit, can receive the radio signals that the satellites broadcast.

Wherever you are on the planet, at least four GPS satellites are ‘visible’ at any time. Each one transmits information about its position and the current time at regular intervals. These signals, travelling at the speed of light, are intercepted by your GPS receiver, which calculates how far away each satellite is based on how long it took for the messages to arrive.

Once it has information on how far away at least three satellites are, your GPS receiver can pinpoint your location using a process called trilateration.

So this gives rise to some pretty accurate information about where we are and where we are going, although this doesn’t always work.

 

GPS- GOING PLACES STUPIDLY

Japanese Tourists Drive Straight into the Pacific Thanks to His GPS

 

Three Japanese tourists in Australia found themselves in an embarrassing situation after their GPS navigation system lured them down the wrong path. The three students from Tokyo set out to drive to North Stradbroke Island on the Australian coast Thursday morning, and mapped out their path on their GPS system. The road looked clear, at low tide — but the map forgot to show the 9 miles of water and mud between the island and the mainland.

As the three drove their rented Hyundai Getz into Moreton Bay, they found the GPS device guiding them from a gravel road into thick mud. They tried to get back to solid ground, but as the tide rose they were forced to abandon their car. Passengers on passing ferries watched in amazement.

 

 

GPS- GOD’S POSITIONING SYSTEM

 

The GPS is a phenomenal tool which all of us can now access. We don’t have to know how it works, we just have to learn how to use one. But in order for God’s Positioning System to work certain things must happen…

 

 

1.      YOUR GPS HAS TO BE CONNECTED

 

 

I know this sounds basic, but if your GPS has no power, if it is disconnected or if the satellites are down, your GPS won’t work.  In the same way, unless you are connected to God, your GPS isn’t God’s Positioning System it’s a paperweight!

 

John 16:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

 

For your GPS to work, you must be plugged into Christ. We talk often about asking Jesus into your life as your Lord and Saviour, and from that moment your sins are forgiven and you have the gift of eternal life. But the really cool thing is you get the Holy Spirit living within you..

 

2 Timothy 1:14

By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

 

God gives us the deposit of the Holy Spirit, and once you have the Holy Spirit within you, you’re connected to God, and your God Positioning System is ready to guide you.

 

2.      YOU HAVE TO WANT TO MOVE FORWARD

 

A Sunday school class was once asked why the people of God wandered in the desert for 40 years. One young girl answered, “Because Moses was a boy, and he would never stop to ask for directions.”

 

 

You can sit and look at your GPS all day, but unless you want to use it to actually move forward, the GPS is useless.  And so it is with your life, and with this church.

 

God’s Positioning System is like the rudder of a boat. If you are stationary, it doesn’t work. You cannot steer if the boat isn’t moving. But when it starts to move the rudder bites and you can begin to steer.

 

Psalms 25:4-5

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

 

Hebrew for wait is qawa, meaning to bind together, wait eagerly in hope or to lie in wait expectantly. Wait doesn’t mean sit and wait, it means keep doing what you’re doing, keep moving forward eagerly expecting to be led and guided in the right way. It means if you haven’t got a job, keep applying for them. If you haven’t got a ministry in church, start serving others.

 

I could look at our church and say, “Hey were basically full, everyone is happy, job done.” But I am not content, because God has given me a vision and we’ve only just begun!

 

Wikipedia defines inertia as the resistance of any object to any change in its state of motion.

 

If I resist change, I cannot move forward. And neither can this church.

 

No one likes change, especially if we are comfortable and content with the current situation. Change can be painful, it can be scary, it’s almost always uncomfortable. Yet most of us recognise that progress always involves change, and maintenance usually involves no change. So when faced with the prospect of change, how do you face it in a godly way?

 

As pastor of this church, I have to face the prospect of change if we are to move into all that God has for us, and I choose to do so along with my leadership team, elders and especially the board. In the next few weeks we face the prospect of many changes… seats, our name, other things too. So let’s look at how the apostle Paul faces changes…

 

Acts 16:6-10

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

 

THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN

 

Paul had plans, big plans. He wanted to take the gospel to Asia, but the Holy Spirit forbade them. Next he decided on Bithynia. But even before he could write “Bithynia or bust” in the dust on the back of his donkey, the plans were changed again by a vision.

 

We see in Paul a model of how we should face changes, in our lives and in the church.

 

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

 

And we make our plans as best we can, but we must be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. So is it wrong to make plans? Of course not, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it, right? So can we allow ourselves to become discouraged if changes happen we don’t expect? No, we have to trust God!

 

What stops us from moving forward is contentment or fear, or fear of losing contentment.

 

Lot’s wife was content in Sodom, as they were fleeing the doomed city, she lagged behind and then

 

Genesis 19:26

But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

 

She was happy, she was content, she resisted God ordained change. If you are at this church to cruise along and be content, I’m sorry because, while I want you to be happy here, I don’t want any of us content with the status quo. Nice band, but that’s going down, down!

 

There’s a world to be won for Christ, there are people next door and in the next street and across the world going to hell, and I will never be content to just save me and mine! Remember the symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion, so comfort is not the highest calling here!

 

But often we resist change because of fear. Raymond just changed countries, to a people he doesn’t know, in a land he doesn’t recognise, to a situation he doesn’t understand, but he had courage to face that change and step out in faith.

 

Christian business consultant Sam Voorhies offers five essential principles for “growing through the change process.”

(1) Don’t take things too personally. Changes in this church are not against you personally… we are making the calls we believe God wants us to make, not rattling your cage!

(2) View things in light of eternity, from God’s perspective. Colossians 3:2

(3) Focus on your call, not your career. If God calls you to serve in this church, it’s not about you!

(4) Take responsibility for how you respond. If you don’t agree with something, seek God and respond the way He wants you to, don’t become like a petulant child! You cannot control what others do or decide, but you can control your response.

(5) Know that God will never forget nor forsake you.

 

Change is inevitable if we are to continue moving forward. You don’t have to agree, but if you disagree, do so agreeably!

 

 

3.      KNOW WHERE YOU ARE NOW

 

If you turn in your GPS to go to a Brisbane, and it navigates from Vladivostok, it is useless. Guidance needs to take you from where you are now into the future.

 

So where are you now? Are you close to God right now? Are you spending time each day with Him? If you don’t stay close to God, how can He guide you in your life?

 

God longs to lead you,  guide you, and to teach you, but you must find yourself close to Him.

 

James 4:8

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

 

So many people today are double minded, they change like shifting sands, dependent on fashion and the opinions of others. We see it in our country with the same sex marriage issue, and Christians, if they are not Clos enough to the Lord, are double minded.

 

Listen to what James says about being double minded…

 

James 1:6-8

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

If you don’t draw close to God, you get no guidance, no direction and no peace, you just get confusion. For God’s Positioning System to work properly, you must draw near to God!

 

 

4.      KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO GO

 

 

Are you on the road to nowhere? Are you confused about where you are going in life? I don’t have a plan for your life, but I know who does!

 

Proverbs 3:5-7

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

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

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

 

If you make decisions in your own strength and wisdom, if you don’t turn away from evil, then you won’t know where you are going, and you will be like this…

 

Ephesians 4:14

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

 

So where are you going? Where is this church going? If our aim is to have a great life, or be happy, or grow a big church. That’s not an aim, that’s nothing more than a wish.

 

Luke 18:8

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

I don’t want to be successful. What I want is to be faithful…

 

Luke 16:10

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

 

If you are faithful in the small things, you will be entrusted with great things. Do I want our church to grow? Of course, but that’s not my aim. I just want to be faithful. God can grows things as He sees fit, but we must be faithful.

 

My aim is not to grow a kingdom here. My reason for being in ministry is not to build a big church or bigger buildings. While ever there is one person in pain, one person lonely, one person going to hell, my calling is to serve the Lord with all my heart and all my being. My calling is to be faithful…

 

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—

to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

 

That’s where my GPS is set to. So what about you? Will you join me?

 

5.      YOU HAVE TO BE OBEDIENT

 

Mrs. Merv Grazinski , of Oklahoma City, purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an Oklahoma University football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set out for home, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.

"Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway at the first turn, crashed and overturned. Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set.

"The Oklahoma jury awarded her – are you sitting down? – $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home."

Or this one…

 

A GPS doesn’t steer for you, it doesn’t think for you, it doesn’t observe for you… it is not an autopilot. It guides you, it directs you to where to go, but you have to be obedient to it. If you disobey, if you ignore it, if you walk to the back of the vehicle to make a sandwich, how can God lead you in the right way? It’s like herding chickens!

 

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

 

It’s so simple… if you love God, obey Him. Don’t constantly disobey God’s will for your life and have to gall to say that you love Him! Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will, and obedience to what is right. And the thing is, if you obey Him, He works on your behalf to lead you into the greatest life possible. If you could only see things from God’s perspective, you would be obedient and trust Him.

 

If you are open, if your heart is seeking Him, His Word will direct your steps. I cannot tell you the number of times I have read something in my daily Bible reading in a way that I could use and apply for direction that very day. I believe in God’s GPS, I believe in His Word. That’s why I continually encourage you to do this Bible reading plan. Do it every day, and watch Him lead your life, you very own GPS for your life, and it’s all here!

 

But the reality is, that this is a constant battle, even for us who know God and read His Word daily. We start out trusting, we start following the GPS and moving forward, but our thoughts lead us away from God. Society attacks Christian values constantly, TV assaults our senses, the Internet and social media draw our attention from what is really important, so we constantly battle to be obedient. That’s why Paul writes…

 

2 Corinthians 10:5

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

 

Some of you here want to obey, you long to be led by the Holy Spirit, but you must learn to start taking every thought captive. Spending time with Christ every day is a great way to start centring your mind on God, and becoming more obedient. Without obedience, God’s Positioning System is useless in your life!

 

CAN YOU TRUST YOUR GPS?

 

 

But as we saw earlier, even obedience to a GPS can lead you down some pretty strange paths.

 

11 Pennsylvania residents sued a GPS manufacturer in 2013 because the charter bus they were passengers on slammed into an overpass near Boston when the device directed the driver onto a road with height restrictions less than the height of his vehicle.

 

 

When the new Apple Iphone came out , it had an identifiable Apple maps error directing people to drive right onto an active airport runway at an Alaskan airport. Two separate people courageously ignored security gates and signs reading,” Stop, Danger, Active Runways, Do Not Proceed” and boldly drove onto the runways faithfully following their GPS.

 

So the question to you this morning is, can you trust God’s Positioning System? Absolutely YES!

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

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

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

God is God, and as we saw last week, He is your loving Father. He will not give you everything you want, He will not direct you to every place you want to go, because He loves you, and know what is best for you. He is your loving Father, and He has plans to prosper not to harm you, so if you truly love Him you can truly trust Him to lead you in the right direction. Not under bridges that are too low, not onto active runways and not into Morton Bay. Let Him have control and let Him lead yo, because He is faithful.

 

Many of you struggle to trust God, and I get it. I understand how hard it is to trust Him when  don’t have the full picture. We all face the situations where it looks right, but God takes us another way, but the more experience you have of trusting God and the closer you are to Him, the more confident you become trusting Him. Many struggle to trust God not because He let them down, but because people let them down. People say and do things that God doesn’t approve of. So if you’ve been hurt or let down in the past, don’t blame God for what man has done. Paul addresses this very issue..

Romans 3:3-4

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

 

GOD’S POSITIONING SYSTEM IS TRUE AND FAITHFUL

 

God is true. God is faithful, and God is the GPS your life needs right now.

 

And finally, the ultimate Bible verse on God’s Positioning system is this…

 

Isaiah 30:21

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

 

If you face major decisions in Your life and you need guidance, then today is the day to respond to His Word. Need a job, need a change of job, need a change of living situation? Need direction about whether to start or stop something? Are you facing financial decisions? Moral decisions? Worried about what to say to your kids or grandkids? Whatever you face, whatever decision you face, you need God’s GPS, not someone’s opinion.

00:0000:00

The Father’s Heart- Father’s Day 2017

September 6, 2017
  1. Take my wallet and GO CRAZY shopping. 

    9. No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit complaining and let's go to the mall. 

  2. Here honey, you use the remote. 

    7. Well, how 'bout that? I'm lost! Looks like we'll have to stop and ask for directions. 

    6. Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend ... you might want to consider throwing a party. 

    5. Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend. 

    4. Hey, let me hold your purse while you try that on. 

    3. Let's watch the Romance Channel tonight! 

    2. Well, I don't know what's wrong with your car. Probably one of those doo-hickey thingies.

and the Number 1 thing you'll never hear a Dad say:


  1. When I was growing up, we had it so easy!  

 

 

 

 

How long should a good sermon be? It should be like a woman's skirt, long enough to cover the essentials and short enough to keep you interested!

 

It’s Father’s Day, and while we always celebrate fatherhood on this day, I want to have a look at God, the perfect Father and His heart for you and I. People often get this the wrong way around, looking at their own earthly father and saying he was this or that, therefore I cannot relate to God as a father. Today, let’s do it in reverse, and look at Father heart of God first and work back recognising our own father’s, however good or bad, are dim reflections of the one true Father.

 

Father’s Day is often a day of mixed emotion for many people. For me, I remember the father I have lost, the godly, wise, loving man I called Dad, who went to be with the Lord nearly 3 years ago, but for many you have very mixed emotions when it comes to your father.

 

HOW DO YOU SEE GOD?

 

Maybe your father wasn’t in the picture, perhaps he left you early in life. Maybe he only showed up every other weekend, or perhaps he was at home physically but never had time for you. Perhaps he sexually abused you, belted you or maybe, like me, he was kind and loving.

 

Whatever your view of your earthly father, you need to stop and recognise that this will likely colour your view of God, because God is revealed to us in His Word as a Father. If your dad was kind and loving, you will easily be able to see God as kind and loving. If your dad was harsh or distant, you will tend to see God as that.

 

While we honour all fathers today, and we have many good ones present, not one of them would claim to be perfect, right? Jesus said….

 

Matthew 5:48

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

But clearly none of us are perfect. However, God is the perfect father, and He is never too busy for you, never not there and He is never abusive.

 

Some see God as having a big stick, waiting to scourge you, waiting to punish you when you step out of line. Some live in fear of rejection from Him, fearing that the smallest failure will be punished severely.

 

If you focus on your earthly father you will see faults, if you focus on your Heavenly Father you will see perfect love!

 

This Father’s Day, I’m going to ask you to turn it around and change your perception of God the Father. He is not an upgraded version of your earthly father, good or bad, He is the Ultimate Father, so let’s look at what that means for all of us…

 

 

HOW DOES GOD SEE YOU?

 

 

When God looks at you, He has eyes of pure love. David, a man after God’s own heart, writes

 

Psalms 17:8

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

 

In Hebrew, the apple of the eye refers to the pupil, the most delicate, the most precious part. It means you are the most precious part to Him, and hiding in the shadow of your wings is all about His love for you and longing to protect you, care for you, bless you.

 

When God says He loves you, when He says you are precious, valuable and worth many sparrows, when He says He gave His one and only Son for you, this is love of the highest order… this is unconditional love, and this is the love He has for you!

 

1 John 3:1(NIV)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

 

Psalms 68:5-6

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, God sets the lonely in families,

 

Are you lonely? Are you burdened? The Father’s Heart is here for you this morning. Let’s look at the characteristics of the perfect Father, your perfect Father, who loves you unconditionally.

 

Remember, He’s not far away and distant. He’s not waiting to inflict punishment on you when you fall, He is loving, caring and closer than a brother. He has plans for you, to prosper you and not to harm you, and this morning this father’s arms are outstretched to you, saying come unto me.

 

THE PERFECT FATHER’S HEART

 

We’ve said God is the perfect Father, but how can we know this? We know the Father’s heart by His Word, and one of the best illustrations for this is this parable…

 

Luke 15:11-24

 

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

So what are the characteristics of the Fathers Heart?

 

1.     THE FATHER’S HEART LOVES UNCONDITIONALLY

 

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

I cannot even begin to express the depth of God’s love for you. His love is undeserved by any of us, yet it is unconditional and greater than any power in the universe.

 

I talked last week about Christians having God’s unconditional love for those who we don’t agree with or who persecute us. Unconditional love means exactly that… it does not depend on what you have done, said or thought. It’s there, it’s love, it’s for you and you cannot sin enough to lose it.

 

Does this mean everyone goes to heaven? No, it means that all of us deserve hell, but God’s mercy and love is there to make a way for us to get to heaven… by accepting His Son. If you don’t receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you will go to hell, and it will break God’s fatherly heart, because He loves you unconditionally. He still loves you if you choose to reject His Son and heap those consequences upon your own head. He never stops loving you.

 

If He accepted sinful people into heaven, heaven would be hell! We deserve hell, but God in His great love offers a way out, a way to connect again with Him…

 

In the parable, the father loves his son, even when the son rejects him and blows the family fortune on his own pleasures. At home, abroad, in a brothel or a pig style, the father’s love never changes!

 

John 3:16

 

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

 

But hang on a minute, some will say, doesn’t He punish us when we step out of line? Doesn’t bad things happen even to good people? Let’s examine this important question, because some of us need to recognise that unconditional love doesn’t equal a nice, comfortable life. Remember, the symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion!

 

God is a loving Father, and any loving father will allow you to feel the consequences of your sin, and He will allow discipline. He is more interested in our character than our comfort, but He does limit the hardship we face.

 

Hebrews 12:5-6

 “My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 

Have you ever met a child who hasn’t been disciplined? If you haven’t, go to a supermarket and observe! Kids do step out of line, and kids do need to experience consequences for actions. So do we, but if you are going through difficulty right now, it is not the Lord punishing you, leaving you alone to suffer. He is there with you, walking with you, loving you and protecting you. That’s what a father does. However hard, however discouraged you might be, the Father’s Heart is what makes Him walk this road with you, right beside you, unconditionally loving you and seeing you through!

 

I remember my children trying to walk. They took a few steps then fell, and so I grabbed a cricket bat and beat them… wait, no I didn’t. I helped them up, dusted them off and encouraged them to try again. This is the heart of a father… this is your Heavenly Father’s heart!

 

 

2.     THE FATHER’S HEART WANTS THE BEST FOR US

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

 

Every person comes into this world with sealed orders… a plan God has for your life. And it’s a great plan, one to prosper you and not cause you harm. A plan giving you a hope and a future, a destiny, the life you long to live. Even if you sin, even if you walk away, God still has His purposes for your life. You may have walked away from God, you may have lost your destiny, but if you come back to Him you can discover it again.

 

Many of you have had a father who, let’s be frank, put himself first many times. As have you at times. But most earthly fathers want the best for their children. I know I have always wanted my girls to become all they want to be. I’ve always wanted them to marry a Christian. I always prayed for them to come to Christ. Even earthly fathers want the best for you!

 

But none of the, have the resources that your Heavenly Father does, right?

 

You are not an accident. You are not a fluke. You are created in the image of God, and He loves you, and has a purpose for your life. Ask Jesus into your life, and you become a child of God, and you begin to move towards the great destiny He has planned for you!

 

He is not out to punish you, not out to hurt you, not out to limit or control you… He wants the very best for you! But wanting the best for you doesn’t mean granting you every request you make! If you truly love God as a Father, you must trust Him with every request, to grant or not according to His infinite and loving will. He knows everything, we don’t… simple as that!

 

You can choose to walk away, choose to throw His perfect plan for your life back at Him. Listen, today if you repent and come to Christ, the plan is back on. Look at your life… tell me, are you fulfilled? Have you reached your destiny, or fallen short? Come to the Father today and it’s game on!

 

 

3.     THE FATHER’S HEART NEVER LOSES HOPE

 

 

But we sin, don’t we. We are selfish and want what we want. We do what’s right for us. But no matter what you’ve done, no matter how you’ve sinned, God never gives up on you…

 

1 Peter 1:3-4

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,

 

You are God’s special child, and also His special project, and He is faithful… He will never give up on you! You sin, you reject Him, you disobey Him, and He never gives up on you. If you turn to the Father today, He’s will forgive and complete His plan in your life.

 

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

He won’t stop if you won’t! He’ll see it through to completion if you will walk with Him.

 

4.     THE FATHER’S HEART IS ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR US

 

Luke 15:20

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 

All that time the wayward child was away, self indulging and sinning as much as he could, the Father was waiting, looking, praying… the Father saw him from afar, and rushed to welcome the prodigal son home. All that time, He was waiting expectantly, looking, believing for a change of heart.

 

God sees everything, so you can’t surprise Him. Think your sin drives Him away? You think that if you sin in the dark maybe He doesn’t see?Hardly!

 

Our excuses are often so pathetic, because He know the truth. As a child my daughter Kira raided the Easter eggs one day and we caught her face covered in chocolate, sitting with her doll in a sea of glittering paper. She blamed her doll for doing it… but we knew! That’s how feeble our denials are to a Father who sees and knows it all!

 

 

And loves us anyway… Paul attacked Christians, murdered and persecuted them, and God sought him out! David committed adultery, murder, etc. and God used him and promised him one of his descendants will always reign.

 

Picture this… in your darkest moment of sin, in your greatest time of shame, your Father is watching, waiting, longing for you to turn to Him. He doesn’t like what He sees you do, but He loves you!

 

No matter what you’ve done, no matter how selfish or sinful or horrible you’ve been, God your Father is looking out for you, waiting for you, loving you. He’s looking at you right now, waiting for that change of heart, waiting to lavish upon you life and life to the full. Will you push Him away again this morning, or is today the day you give Him the best Father’s Day?

 

 

5.     THE FATHER’S HEART RESPONDS TO REPENTANCE

 

Your Heavenly Father waits for you to respond. Many believers look at the Father and see Him as judgemental, punishing them for their failings. And Yes, one day He will judge us and yes, sometimes He let’s us experience the consequences of our sin, but always behind this is the heart of a loving Father, eagerly waiting for you to turn to Him!

 

2 Peter 3:9

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

 

In Greek, repentance is metanoia , which means a complete reversal of one’s mind, a 180 degree turn, not veering slightly to the good side. It doesn’t mean being sorry for being caught. It’s far deeper than that. The same word is used in

 

2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

 

You and I have sinned, even as believers we sin. If we sin, our conscience weighs heavily upon us, and we regret what we’ve done, especially if we are caught. This regret can and will destroy you. So many carry a burden of regret within of things they’ve said and done that fills them with sorrow and kills their joy in life.

 

But when we bring them to God, when we repent just like the prodigal son, He promises…

 

1 John 1:9

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

 

Listen the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. They both are Holy, they both punish sin, but they both long to show mercy to you and me.

 

Repentance might be painful, it might humble you, but it actually sets you free in a way you have never experienced before. The burden of sin is lifted, the fear of consequences is removed, the joy of the Lord is restored and life, life to the full is the result.

 

Want to give your Heavenly Father a gift this Father’s Day? Repent and seek Him today! The Father’s heart responds to repentance, every time!

 

 

6.     THE FATHER’S HEART WANTS TO RESTORE US

 

The true aim of the heart of the Father is to restore us. The prodigal returned home hoping at best to just be a servant, but the father restored him to sonship. The brother didn’t understand this. He got mad at the father, demanding his brother be taught a lesson.

 

But the father, his eyes were only on restoring his wayward son. Not punishing, not teaching him a lesson, but restoring him. And that’s God’s promise to you…

 

Joel 2:25

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

 

Restoration means making something like the years of neglect never happened. Sin is a locust, it eats everything, it slowly destroys you from the inside out. Restore a car and it is like the day it rolled off the showroom floor, and that’s what God promises you.

 

Those years you’ve wandered away from Him, those years you disobeyed, messed your life up, the pain you caused others, the pain you caused yourself… God is in the restoration business, and today He is calling you home.

 

FATHER’S DAY IS THE DAY TO SHOW YOUR FATHER YOU LOVE HIM

 

No one could really say why he ran away. Or perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did. Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain with hopes of entering into a profession that would most likely get him killed – bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid , so instead he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal. The advertisement read,

“Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”

Paco is such a common name in Spain that when the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers…and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!

 

 

 

It’s Father’s Day, wayward son and daughter, so what are you going to do? Are you going to take your inheritance and run away to blow it on what you think is a good life? You going to ignore Him and keep doing what you want? Maybe you’ve done that already and have finished in a pig style of a life. Are you happy to sit among the pigs eating the scraps, or are you sensing the call home to your Father?

 

When the prodigal son turned his face towards home he was humbled, he was broken, he was as the end of his hope. He returned home desperate, hoping at best to just be a servant. But the Father had a surprise for him, and this morning, if you humble yourself and return to the Father, He has a surprise for you too…

 

Galatians 4:6-7

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

 

Come home as a servant, become a son or daughter of the King of Kings. You are chosen, you are royalty, you are the apple of His eye, you are the favoured one of the Fathers Heart!

 

Come home to Him today!

00:0000:00

Mind Viruses 5- The Tolerance Virus

August 29, 2017

We’ve looked at these mind viruses over the last few weeks, but of all the viruses we will look at this one is perhaps the virus of this present age.  Mind viruses are those programs the devil implants into our psyche via our society which influence the way we live, the things we do and the attitudes we have.

 

Remember, these viruses are small programs planted in our culture and society that can dramatically affect our thoughts, words, actions and feelings. They do this by affecting our subconscious, so often you won’t even be aware of the effects of this virus, but they are taking control of your life.

 

We’ve looked at the love of the world virus, rampant consumerism which we all experience. We’ve seen that, despite technology and social media, the loneliness virus affects more people than ever before. We’ve also examined the stress virus, which affects us all and kills some of us.

 

But today we look at a virus gaining power, the spirit of our age and this virus is called the tolerance virus, and to date this virus is winning because it affects not only you and I but also those with power and position.

 

The constant mantra in the media and social media that we must be tolerant. We must tolerate everybody’s views and opinions, and challenging them is the cardinal sin against society.

 

If what I say in this message offends you, chances are you are infected by this mind virus. The pressure to accept this virus from our society, especially the media, is greater than ever before.

 

Luke 17:26

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.

 

A couple of prowlers broke into a department store in a large US city. . . . They took nothing. But what they did was ridiculous. Instead of stealing anything, they changed the cost of everything. Price tags were swapped. Values were exchanged. These clever pranksters took the tag off a $395 camera and stuck it on a $5.00 box of stationery. The $5.95 sticker on a paperback book was removed and placed on an outboard motor. They repriced everything in the store!

 

Crazy? You bet. But the craziest part of this story took place the next morning. The store opened as usual. Employees went to work. Customers began to shop. Many bargains were had. The place functioned as normal for four hours before anyone noticed what had happened.

 

You might think life goes on as normal, but I believe we face the greatest moral crisis in our history. They’re trying to change the tags, and we need to recognise and take a stand against the virus of this age!

 

THE TOLERANCE VIRUS- TODAY MORE THAN EVER

 

I’m going to use a lot of material Pastor James McPherson used in a recent convention, because I think he really has a perspective on this, and you as believers need to have your eyes open to the sinister, powerful and destructive nature of the tolerance virus. I’m not going to tell you what to vote in the plebiscite, I want instead to look at what is behind the issues.

 

I cannot recall a more emotionally charged issue we have had to face as a church than same sex marriage. But recognise that this is not the whole issue, it’s just a symptom of this virus.

 

This mind virus tells us, in the media, by politicians, by our friends and all over Facebook, that we must be tolerant. We are told that all people, from gays to transgenders to Muslims to environmentalists, have a right, an almost divine right, to express themselves and be whatever or whoever they want to be. Tolerance preaches that we must accept them, everything they say and everything they want to do, because that’s who they are. Our media is tolerant to every group and opinion. From gays to transgender to sex workers, and from Muslims to atheists to New Agers.

 

The media is tolerant to every group in society… except Christians! And folks this is going to get worse before it gets better. I believe that we will see more persecution of Christians in our country in the next 5 years than we have seen in the past 200 years.

 

A Muslim girl shares her beliefs and its, “You’re so brave to share your heart, good on you.”

A Christian shares even an opinion and its, “You’re a bleep, bleep prejudicial bigot!”

 

Christians have not attacked, sworn at, slandered or mocked by supporters of gay marriage. And Media people like Tim Minchin can produce a song full of swearing and cursing attacking Bible based Christians called “I Still Call Australia Homophobic”, he can call us all sorts of despicable, sexually based insults but we, apparently, are the bigots, not the guy swearing and cursing at us!

 

In fact things have degraded to the point where perhaps the greatest sin of the modern world is not sexual deviancy, paedophilia, robbery, adultery or murder, it’s having an opinion that is different to the perceived majority, or rather the loudest minority. Society will tolerate slave labour if the products are cheap enough, Muslim customs and eating habits if it pays well enough, and blatantly hyper-sexual gay mardi-gras, but it will not tolerate a Christian with an opinion. They call us narrow minded, prejudice, bigoted, sexist, racist or just plain ignorant, yet have a look at the media and you’ll see that one side is slandering, mocking and reviling, attacking without mercy or respect, and it’s not Christians!  And all the time the big winner is satan as this tolerance virus digs itself deeper and deeper into our collective subconsciousness!

 

STOP LIMPING?

 

Let’s look at 1 Kings 18, at Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. You probably know the story, but I want to highlight something just before the big showdown, how 2 men of God faced the degradation of society in their day…

 

Elijah was standing against great evil. And that great evil of Baal worship, manifest in the form of King Ahab and Jezebel, attacked him, in fact were hunting him down!

 

1 Kings 18:10

As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you.

 

Obadiah did things differently. He was part of the royal court, caught up in all the goings on. He was a good man, but part of the royal court, weak and afraid, so he hid and fed 100 of God’s prophets.

 

1 Kings 18:13

Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?

 

He did not oppose publicly like Elijah, but as part of the establishment , without forsaking his privileged position, he did what he could.

 

And that is what we see today with the tolerance virus… some stand up and say no and get mercilessly attacked, while others float along and try and quietly, winsomely do what they can to not conform.  They try and stay comfortable but do a bit to oppose it. But if we are to ever combat this virus, we have to have an opinion, and it has to be Biblical. Not my opinion, not yours, not Pauline Hanson or Bill Shorten or anybody else… the Bible is our standard!

 

On Mount Carmel in the big showdown, Elijah said this, and it is still powerful today…

 

1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

 

That word limp is apt, because in Hebrew the word means dance. How many Christians are dancing between God’s opinion and the world’s. Flipping from one to the other, tossed here and there by the latest opinion on Facebook. Today, church, is the day we stop dancing, the day we stop limping, the day we drive a flag into the sunburnt soil of this country and say “Enough!” And listen, if you are reading Facebook and watching the news more than reading your Bible, you have no chance because you won’t even be sure of God’s opinion!

 

 

HOW DO YOU TEST A SOCIAL IDEA?

 

You can ridicule people, you can kill them, you can silence them, but you cannot silence an idea, good or bad. So how do you examine an idea to see if it is true or not? One great way is to take it to the logical extreme and see if it holds true.

 

For example, the idea that salvation is available to all who repent…

 

2 Peter 3:9

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

 

So, if you repent can you be saved? Yes. What about if a murderer repents? Yes. Ok, what about a mass murderer, say Ted Bundy? Yes apparently he did that. Ok, what about Adolf Hitler? The answer again is yes, just or not, God’s promises holds true.

 

Now let’s watch this fascinating video where the same logic is applied to some of the social questions we currently face…

 

VIDEO

 

So if someone talks about homosexuality, they say it’s OK to be gay, because that’s how you were born and you always have a right to express who you really are. That’s fine. Let’s push it a little further. That means that if you’re a paedophile, you should also have the right to express that. If you’re a psychopath, perhaps you have the right to kill whoever you want, right? I mean, you’re just expressing your inner, natural tendencies, right? The tolerance argument doesn’t hold.

 

Now before some of you get offended, I’m not trying to upset you, or to equate gayness with mass murder.. We are not talking about the issue, but the logic behind the issue. I’m just saying the idea that having certain tendencies gives you the divine right to express and pursue them anywhere, any time isn’t logical. Good and decent behaviour in society through the ages has been built on people not giving full vent to their inner tendencies, but apparently not today!

 

 

SYMPTOMS OF THE TOLERANCE VIRUS

 

So what are the symptoms of this virus we see today?

 

1.     WE DON’T BELIEVE FACTS, WE BELIEVE SLOGANS, AND FAMOUS PEOPLE

 

Advertising has know for years that slogans get into your subconscious mind, just like a virus. Many people put their minds on autopilot and just believe slogans, that master manipulators have designed to let the virus into our minds.

 

Let’s test this…who do you think of when I say, lower prices are just the beginning. Just do it. Finger lickin’ good. You can’t beat the real thing. Even from decades ago, it puts a Rose in every cheek. A little dab will do ya… now here’s a modern one…

 

Marriage equality: does that mean I can have 5 wives? Can I marry my 5 year old niece?

 

Love is love: does that mean I can marry my cat?

 

Al Gore said, The science is settle: famously used about climate change, but thousands of scientists say it is far from settled!

 

Another interesting fact of modern life is that we listen to the opinions of celebrities and sports people, as if they are experts in another field.

 

So a famous singer has a political opinion… a famous sports person has a comment on a moral issue. What in the world makes us think that the opinion of people qualified in one area automatically are qualified in a completely unrelated area!

 

Bruce Springsteen thinks Donald Trump is a moron. He’s entitled to his opinion, but he doesn’t hold a political science degree. Hugh Jackman says, “Australia is at its best when we value equality over prejudice and fear. Gay marriage will benefit marriage by allowing it to embrace more loving committed couples who uphold its values.” Great actor, but is he the moral compass of our country?

 

Notice the choice he gives you… equality, or prejudice and fear. You’re either tolerant or a prejudicial, fearful bigot, and heaven forbid you express an opinion contrary to what the celebrities believe!

 

Many Christians fall victim to the tolerance virus, not because they don’t believe in God or want to make a stand for Him, but because they are just too confused by the biased media barrage to know what they believe about anything!

 

Ephesians 4:14-15

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

 

2.     OUR OPINIONS CHANGE EVERY YEAR

 

 

If you are governed and influenced by the tolerance virus, your opinions will change every year, depending on who is in power, or who is speaking out. Society changes its opinion Year by year, and you will fall victim to that if popular opinion is the yardstick you use.

 

Moral standards are in decline, because people like you and me no longer give them strength. What use to be called perverted is now an alternative lifestyle, what use to be hard core porn is now acceptable in movies. The tolerance virus uses movies and TV, books, songs and the Internet to change the way we think. Telling you you’re either tolerant of everything, or a prejudicial bigot! But,

 

Hebrews 13:8-9

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace,

 

The sad fact is that today we no longer have truth, we have only the truth of the moment, which is fashion!

 

Someone once tried to insult me for my Biblical opinions saying, “The problem is that instead of looking at the Bible through society, you look at society through the Bible!” I thanked them, because this is exactly what we need today. If you look at the Bible through society, things change every year. But the Bible stands forever, and looking at society through the Bible gives a stable perspective!

 

 

3.     WE ARE EASILY OFFENDED

 

Get on Facebook today and say that you do not support Gay marriage, and watch how aggressively and caustically you will be attacked, in under 10 minutes by people you’ve never heard of! Our society is becoming as unforgiving as Islamic militants. Remember Salmon Rushdi? He wrote a book called the Satanic Verses, offended The Islamic faith, and had a death sentence pronounced on him. I recently saw a poster saying, “Beheading for all who insult the prophet!” Did you know more than 100 Aussie young men have gone off to join these jihadists? And we are told to be tolerant of this religion of peace!

 

Fiona and I have been attacked on social media several times in the last 6 months, despite being totally innocent. We’ve been told we are hypocrites, we’ve been sworn at told we are unworthy of being pastors and even threatened physically. And it’s not just Christians being attacked. One football blogger recently had death threats made against him because he passed an opinion on a player. As a society, we are so easily offended and that’s part of the action of the tolerance virus! And what’s more, people are taking offence for others, not themselves. The people offended and attacking Christians on the gay marriage issue aren’t even gay themselves! According to Roy Morgan research, just over 3% of Australians consider themselves gay.

 

Proverbs 19:11

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

 

A sign of Christian maturity is not being easily offended. And when you are offended, you respond in a measured, godly way, not in a raging rant on social media!

 

 

4.     WE LOVE NOVELTY

 

With war, terrorism, moral issues and finances to speak about, todays’s tolerance virus wants you to focus on the trivial and novelties of this world.

 

Dozens of Christians killed by Muslim extremists in a 2017 bus attack, rates barely a mention. But a guy convincing his sister of a zombie apocalypse or a rescued goat who wants to wear a duck costume goes viral and gets thousands of clicks.

 

While the Internet was nearly broken by stories about Harambe the gorilla, Kim Kardashian and a soccer mom wearing a Chewbacca mask, we hear barely a peep about the confirmed 1207 Christians murdered this year alone by Muslim extremists. In fact, we champion being tolerant to Muslims and gays, but how tolerant are Muslims to Christians or gays in Muslim countries. Here’s a fact…of the top 10 countries where you can be killed for being gay (forget the marriage thing), all 10 are Muslim.

 

Today we love novelty so much that trivial pursuit is not just a board game, it’s a lifestyle!

 

Colossians 3:2

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

 

5.     WE CANNOT SEPARATE LOVE FROM APPROVAL

 

Our society offers only this choice… do you approve of everything I do, or do you hate me? This extreme thinking overlooks the true nature of love, and the substance of Christ’s love for all of us.

 

How many of you recognise that you can love your children, but not agree with everything they do and not give them everything they think they want?

 

I was talking to a young girl who is transgendering, and she asked if I still loved her, and will I support her decision. I said yes and no. Yes I love you unconditionally, no matter what, but no, I do not support in any way your decision. I explained that my love for her is independent of my agreeing with her.

 

Romans 12:9-10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; (IT DOESN’T SAY TOLERATE EVIL) hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.

 

Frankly, church, we have not excelled at separating love and approval. If we disapprove, we reject the person, just as they choose to reject us. Look at that verse… we need to love those we disagree with, unconditionally, but that does not mean we approve of them, their decisions, their sin or their lifestyles. We say we hate the sin and love the sinner, but in practical terms this has always been difficult.

 

According to our society, which is heavily infected by the tolerance virus, to love a gay person or a Muslim or a Catholic or anybody else, we must approve of everything they do, or at least tolerate it. We have a glaring need today to separate love and approval.

 

Fiona and I once attended a dinner hosted by gay friends of ours. Yes, your pastor has gay friends! When they learned that I was in ministry, one of the guys took me aside and asked if I approved of his lifestyle. Put on the spot, I prayed a quick prayer and said this. “No, I don’t approve of your lifestyle, but then again, my lifestyle is traveling around the world preaching about Jesus, which I don’t think you approve of. So if we both let our disapproval go, can’t we just be mates?” He said it was the best answer he had ever heard. We are firm friends to this day.

 

In reality, my approval or disapproval meant little. What my friend really wanted, and what I gave him, was love, acceptance and respect. That’s what most people want. You can love these folk, care for them, respect them and honour them without approving of their lifestyle choices. The tolerance virus doesn’t say this, but Christ does, and who are you going to believe?

 

WE ARE THERMOMETERS NOT THERMOSTATS

 

Christians are called to be salt and light to a dying world, but instead of setting the moral temperature we are just measuring and reflecting it. We are no longer thermostats, we are simply thermometers. We abdicate responsibility and allow others to set the moral climate.

 

Isaiah 58:1

 “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

 

How can we sit by idle quietly conforming to the world then wonder why the moral fabric of society is falling apart? Look at any civilisation or culture in history, the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, right through until today, and you will find that the decline of their civilisation is preceded by a moral decline. And our nation will be no different! We’re practically there now!

 

2 Timothy 3:12

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

 

It’s time we stood up and said enough is enough, even if we are attacked and insulted! But we need to do so in love, genuine, respectful, honouring love. I don’t agree with you, but I still love you.

 

 

SO HOW CAN WE TREAT THE TOLERANCE VIRUS?

 

According to Pastor James McPherson, our society has deified tolerance and demonised intolerance.

 

We are told that tolerance is always right, and our media is tolerant to everybody, from gays to transgenders, from Muslims to atheists, except a Christian with an opinion. But, argues Ps James, we need to be tolerant of people, but intolerant of ideas. What does this mean?

 

Tolerance applies to people. Jesus, our great example, loved and accepted people, and was roundly criticised by religious people for dining with sinners…

 

Luke 15:2

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

 

 

Jesus then goes on to share the parable of the lost sheep. Clearly He tolerated sinners, prostitutes, etc. he cared, He loved, He reached out to them, He didn’t despise them!

 

Tolerance must always be applied to people, but intolerance must only be applied to bad ideas.

 

The reason our roads are somewhat safe is that police are intolerant to speeding and running red lights. Imagine if they tolerate such behaviour… the roads would be bedlam. Christ dying on the cross doesn’t mean that God suddenly tolerates sin. He is Holy, so totally intolerant of sin, but Jesus hung on nails for 6 hours one Friday and gave His life because He was tolerant of people… nails didn’t hold Him there, love held Him there! He loves us, despite what we have done, but that doesn’t mean He gives us licence to continue in our sin!

 

You cannot cure the tolerance virus by being tolerant of bad ideas or intolerant of people. We will not win by abusing people more than they are currently abusing us. There is only one way ahead for us church…

 

WE HAVE TO COUNTERACT THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE...

 

The spirit of the age preaches tolerance, but then attacks aggressively those who oppose their message. Attacking them back achieves nothing… we have to find a better way.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

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

 

We are not to cower in fear when these tolerance issues come up. But according to this verse we are to show love towards all, power in our unity and solidarity together and a sound mind… a sound mind is intolerance to evil ideas, but this must be set alongside our tolerance towards even those who sin, and even those who attack us!

 

You can’t beat this virus by attacking them back more than they attack you!  Our greatest strength is the love of Christ.

 

For too long we have been intolerant of people because we have a firm belief in the things of God. We’ve hated both the sin and the sinner. We haven’t said that, but that’s how we have acted. We must never stop standing for what God says is right, but we have to temper this with love and respect.

 

But the flip side is not that we become spineless and weak willed…

 

Ephesians 4:14-15

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

We need to stand unmoved by the seas that rage around us. But we need also to stand in love

 

I’m not going to tell you what to vote for in this plebiscite. Let your conscience and God’s Word show you the truth. But I will tell you that, as a pastor, I will not be marrying gay couples, I will not be allowing them to marry in our church. However I  will continue to reach out to and love friends who are gay, transgender, Muslim, Hindu or anything. I will commit to loving them and praying for them, respecting them as people and treating them with respect, even when they venomously attack me and slander me, but I will never agree with them because to me, God’s Word is clear.

 

THE CHALLENGE

 

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Today in Australia the tolerance virus wants you to conform to the pattern of this world. This morning I’m going to ask you to instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How? My challenge is this today…

 

  1. Will you commit to knowing the mind of Christ more by reading His Word, so there is no confusion?
  2. Will you commit to loving those who persecute you, no matter how vile or venomous the slander is?
00:0000:00

God’s Incomparable Power- Pastor Keith

August 23, 2017

Join Pastor Keith as he speaks on God's incomparable power for us who believe.  This message will build your faith and have you reaching for the heavens!

00:0000:00

Believing for Miracles with Pastor Nev

August 23, 2017

An inspiring message by Ps Nev about believing in miracles, and who among us doesn't need to hear this message?

00:0000:00

Mind Viruses 4- The Stress Virus

July 31, 2017

We’ve been looking at mind viruses, the small programs or mind infections that our society produces then implants into our subconscious, so that our actions, thoughts and feelings are controlled by the virus. Most of these are incredibly subtle, but profoundly powerful in controlling our thoughts and feelings, and their effects vary from influencing you to utterly controlling and ruining your life.

 

Today I am preaching to myself, because of all the viruses we will look at, none of them affect me more than this one. Just this week I have suffered terribly at the hands of this virus, and felt it changing my though patterns and it’s almost like I am powerless to stop it!

 

Today we look at the Stress Virus, and I will be preaching to myself!

 

THE STRESS PARADOX

 

Stress has always been a part of life, so this virus is nothing new. Our ancestors stressed about crops, money, ledgers and timetables, just like we do, but what has changed is how much this is being ramped up. Modern man is infected by this virus and it is out of control across the globe. And guess what… the more blessings you have, the more you seem to stress!

 

The stress virus is implanted into us by the enemy through our society, and can be characterised by the following..

 

S= Shocking moments in our life

T=Traumatic events that occur to our life

R=Repetitious pressure from something in our life

E=Errors that we make cause stress

S=Strain from succeeding and striving through life

S=Sales relates to money-financial pressures

 

Gone are days of endlessly wandering by babbling brooks, planting crops, hours of fishing, thinking deep thoughts and being at peace. Instead, enter the fast paced, urban world of mortgages, rent, job pressures, family conflict, schedules, appointments and ATMs. Add to that the kids going every which way, a few screaming matches, too little sleep, too much TV, fear of cancer, materialism, alcoholism, drugs and paranoia, then subtract family support and close friendships, divide by dozens of opinions on Facebook, multiply it by 365 days a year and you have madness, and the resultant stress! Stress isn’t the exception, it’s the rule, and it’s the virus that infects us all!

 

Luke 21:34

 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

 

How many of you here today are weighed down by the cares of life!, the stresses involved in living in the 21st century?

 

According to a Rev magazine article in 2003, the top 4 stressors are…

 

Money stresses.   49%

Family responsibilities    22%

Work deadlines and pressures   22%

Commuting to and from work or school   7%

 

Psalms 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

 

GETTING CAUGHT BY CORTISOL

 

Doctors tell us that, when we undergo stress, our adrenal cortex produces a powerful hormone called cortisol, which hypes us up and slows many bodily functions deemed unnecessary in the “fight or flight” mode. It should be a short acting affect to help us cope with a fright.

 

The problem we face is that elevated levels of this hormone, which God designed to be short acting, occur when chronic stress happens, and so chronic elevated cortisol gives rise to elevated blood pressure, obesity, tiredness, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and a whole host of horrible conditions. It decreases memory, decreases concentration and was never designed to be active perpetually!

 

But the stress virus uses this to control our lives, subtly, in a way that we not only accept it without question, but we expect it as part of our lives! It becomes the accepted pattern of 21st century living.

 

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Even in the church, we pile stress upon stress, and often emphasise programs over people. In this church I am trying to not do that, but if you know me at all, you would know that as a pastor, an optometrist, a family man, a traveling evangelist and an avid internet marketer, I am more guilty than most of piling too many stresses upon my life!

 

STRESSED OUT- THE SYMPTOMS OF THE STRESS VIRUS

 

 

How can you tell if the stress virus is affecting you? You probably don’t even need me to ask that!

 

We should recognise that Stress is not a bad thing. It actually brings the best out in us, it causes us to reach higher, achieve more, become more. Study is stressful, but it makes you a better person.

 

 

So stress is not always a bad thing, but it should be a short term thing, little short bursts. It becomes destructive when it is never ending and it starts to cause things like increased illness, overeating or drinking, abnormal sleep patterns, loss of interest in normal activities, fogginess in thinking, disorganisation, increased impatience or irritability, relationship conflicts or reduced performance.

 

The problem is not that we cannot feel stress, because we feel stressed much of the time. It’s that we consciously accept this as normal, and do nothing to relieve the pressure! Sustained stress is not, repeat NOT normal, it is destructive, and when you’re an adrenalin junky like me, that’s hard medicine to hear. I have discovered, taking in the church as well as working, etc., that I can deal with the stress for a time but that I run down and eventually collapse. Some of you have talked to me about that, and I appreciate your concern. Stress kills, slowly but surely, if not handled right.

 

More than most Biblical writers, Paul felt stress. Like us, he felt it long term, and carried the burden of churches across Asia, and the threat against his own life. But he wrote this…

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 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.

 

So in the stress of life, we need to not lose heart and handle it correctly!

 

 

I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH! GOD’S TREATMENT FOR STRESS

 

 

So what is God’s treatment for this chronic infection of the stress virus that we all feel? Removing all stress is an impossibility in our time driven, results driven culture, and removing yourself from society and becoming a monk is not really an option. We are called to be in the world, and not of it. So how can we possibly be surrounded by such incredible and often overwhelming stress and remain unaffected?

 

 

1.      CONSIDER GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

 

I remember being at a football match at ground level, and it looked like a bunch of guys crawling around the ground trying to find a contact lens. I had no clue as to what they were doing. When I walked up into the stand, I suddenly saw the true perspective of how they were kicking and passing and what they were trying to achieve. When we are at ground level, wrapped up in day to day stresses, we fail to see things from God’s perspective, which would make a lot more sense!

 

One of the best antidotes to stress is seeing God’s purposes in the difficulties He allows in our lives. The “good” God wants to do is to conform us to the image of Christ. He may use certain situations to develop one of the fruits of the Spirit in us. Knowing that God uses every situation, even the petty, irritating situations of life, even the stressful ones, to teach us to become more like Jesus helps us to feel less stressed by things we cannot control.

 

As 2 Corinthians 4 says, concentrate on the eternal, not the temporal.

 

When we face stress, all we see is the stress. We usually cannot see the reasons why, and we certainly don’t see the big picture. God on the other hand sees and understands everything. He’s the Creator of the universe, the sustainer of life, the Creator of you, and He loves you and wants the best for you.

 

Question… From God’s perspective, can He possibly use the stress you’re under for good?

 

Romans 8:28

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

 

So here’s how God can and will use stress in our lives in a positive way…

 

A.     STRESS GETS OUR ATTENTION

 

CS Lewis said “Pain is God’s megaphone,” and I can attest that this is often the case. Pain is protection, such as when you put your hand into a fire, and so stress and the pain it causes can be the way God tells you to slow down or how He moves you away from something dangerous.

 

Psalms 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

 

 

B.      STRESS REFOCUSSES OUR PRIORITIES

 

 

Everyone has priorities, but they are not always God’s priorities. Even when we realign with His priorities, it doesn’t take long before we lose those priorities, before things that are urgent supersede things that are actually important.

 

Haggai 1:7

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.

 

Stress can help us stop living our life and consider our ways.  Stress can help us refocus on what is really important, eternally important not just the tyranny of the urgent!

 

C.      STRESS CAN TURN US BACK TO GOD

 

Call it human nature, but when things are going along well and we are stress free, we often drift away from God, but when stress builds and we get desperate enough, we turn to Him!

 

2 Chronicles 15:4

but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.

 

So stress can be used by God to turn us back to Him, but sadly many turn away in their stress, anxiousness and even panic. Today you face a choice, and I’m going to ask you to turn to, not away from the Lord, believing He loves you and cares for you!

 

 

D.     STRESS DISCIPLINES US

 

Hebrews 12:5-6

 “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.”

 

 No one likes discipline, but often the Lord will use stress to discipline us. If stress is piling up around you, stop and ask God what you need to learn from all this. Learn the lesson and you may find the stress decreases or becomes more manageable. Get this wrong, and you get to sit the whole exam again, so I recommend getting it right!

 

E.      STRESS CREATES STRENGTH AND STAMINA

 

I bought a workout DVD and it doesn’t work! I watched it 10 times and I don’t feel a bit fitter!  If you want to train your body and build strength and stamina, you need to place it under some sort of stress. That’s how we train our bodies, and that’s also how God trains our spirits.

 

1 Timothy 4:7-8

Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

So if you want to become great for God, expect stress and see it through. Remember, quitters never win, and winners never quit.

 

So that’s the first point in God’s treatment for chronic stress, and He does use it for your good if you trust Him and obey Him and let Him mould you into His image. Seeing things God’s way gives meaning to your stress, but what are other steps to coping with 21st century stress?

 

2.      GIVE IT UP TO JESUS

 

When it comes to the stresses that come against you, you need to learn to let go and let God!  We tend to pile these upon ourselves, try and deal with them, get anxious and stressed about them, then start to collapse. If you’re like me, you want to solve all the problems of the world, even when you can’t.

 

Bill Newman talks about a time in a US town when mums were together, and the kids were silent. They investigated, and found the kids playing with a nest of baby skunks. One mum shouted,”Quick children, run!” So they all picked up a skunk and ran, and skunks don’t like to be squeezed.

 

Listen, give it up and let go…

 

Philippians 4:6-7

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

 

Give that stressful situation to the Lord and stand back, don’t pick it up and take it with you!

 

 

3.      TAKE BREAKS

 

If you undergo a sustained amount of stress, taking regular breaks is a key. Later this week, before I work several days, attend a pastor’s conference and travel with Bill Newman to Sri Lanka, but I am taking 3 days for Fiona and I to go away. We feel we need it, and we need it regularly. And so do you!

 

After sending the 72 out to minister, Jesus recommended this…

 

Mark 6:31

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

 

I know things seem urgent, but trust me, the pressure, the stresses, the demands people make will all be there when you get back!

 

Jesus rested and relieved the stress. When I rest I often feel guilty because I think of the things I should be doing. That’s stinking thinking, and that’s a product of the stress virus. We need to come apart and take some time out to rest, or we will fall apart!

 

4.      SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD FRIENDS

 

You go like the company you keep…

 

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

 

So if you are stressed, don’t surround yourself with negative people. Chose the people you talk to wisely, and gather positive, uplifting and godly people around you. I have done this, and I can tell you having some of my friends praying with me instead of feeding my negativity makes all the difference in times of great stress.

 

 

5.      GUARD YOUR HEART

 

Proverbs 4:23

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

 

The Hebrew word for keeping your heart with vigilance means to guard, to watch over and to blockade. When we face stress, we must guard our hearts vigilantly. Why?

 

Stress has a way of orienting us toward all the things that are wrong in our lives. We need to guard our hearts and minds against negativity and pessimism. There are times when we will not understand God or His ways, for His ways are higher than ours, (Isaiah 55:8), but He gives us enough information about His character that even when we do not understand the problems we face or the stress we are under, we can rest in His faithfulness and His holy goodness.

 

In the midst of our stress and pain, He delights in us when we trust Him, especially when we do not understand. We guard our heart during stressful times by checking our thinking and taking every thought captive…

 

2 Corinthians 10:5

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

 

So guard your heart in times of stress by taking every negative thought captive and not tolerating even a single one!

 

 

6.      CULTIVATE A THANKFUL HEART

 

The greatest sin of the western world is an ungrateful spirit. We live in a society that is basically ungrateful for the many blessings we share. Australians whine and moan about everything, when we are given money to not work, free medical, subsidised housing, the right to free speech, glorious weather and the list goes on. We need to learn to have a gratitude attitude, even when under stress.

 

James 1:2-4

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.

 

If you are under stress, even extreme stress, be thankful, if not for the pain, for the many small mercies you have in your life. Have you got a car? A phone? A roof over your head? Food? Have you got relationships that matter, a church that loves and supports you? Let’s be thankful in all things, not stressing about what we haven’t got!

 

7.      PRIORITISE

 

Sometimes we get stressed out and the stress virus digs into our subconscious because we are majoring on minor things. At the end of our life, many of us will realise that we have spent most of our time on what matters least, and the least time on those things that really matter most.

 

We worry and stress about so many things, what we should do, eat, where we should go. Jesus tells us directly not to worry and stress about such things, but prioritise the things of God…

 

Matthew 6:33

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

 

 

Decide today what is really important in your life, choose your priorities, and live for them. Life is full of choices. When we become more intentional about the way we spend our time and energy, we learn to say no to things that are just not that important.

 

And in eternity only 3 things live forever… God, His Word and the souls of men and women. Invest in those things, and make them the priority.

 

 

8.      RECOGNISE AND REMEMBER OUR LIMITS

 

Psalms 139:2-4

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

 

Often our lives become filled with stress because we refuse to accept our human limits. We are not God. We are not all-knowing or able to assume total control of every stressful situation we face. We are human beings. We need to sleep, eat, and relax. Yet, at times we live our lives in a way that ignores these realities, which can result in a host of stress-related ailments.

 

When we are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps that is a reminder that we are not living within the limits and boundaries that God has created for us. It may be time to reevaluate, cut back, say no, or slow down. I preach to myself here, and have recently given up a consulting job and my business group to be able to pastor this church properly without killing myself!

 

The final step is the most important, and is in fact the main reason why I have withstood much of the stress that has been thrown at me by this virus.

 

Remember, stress can affect the body, mind, and spirit. We must pay attention to each area to reduce the effects of stress on our overall well-being. If we do not learn to control stress, it will eventually control us.

 

To protect our bodies, we need to get adequate rest, exercise regularly, eat well, and learn to breathe deeply. To protect our minds, we should think truthfully, refuse to make mountains out of molehills, and set priorities. Finally, to protect our spirits, we need to meditate on God and His Word, learn to trust God, and pray without ceasing. We need to…

 

9.      COME EACH DAY TO THE LORD

 

If you are overwhelmed with stress, you are carrying a burden you shouldn’t be!

 

Matthew 11:28-30

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.”

 

Some of you here are carrying stresses and burdens you shouldn’t be. You’re like an ox dragging a load that’s too heavy, with an ill fitting yoke that rubs and pulls and causes pain and discomfort.

 

Many people long for rest, long for relief from the constant stress this virus inflicts upon them. This morning, Jesus’ words call out to you, saying, “Give me your impossible burdens. I will carry them.” Jesus says that He will take from our shoulders the heavy burdens that are burning us out, the stress we face in life that this virus tells us we have to just handle, and replace them with an easy yoke, a light burden. Submission to Christ does not place us in bondage to a harsh taskmaster but under the loving care of the gentle and lowly Saviour.

 

Jesus is in touch with the stress and burdens of life that we carry and understands how much they hurt and exhaust us. When we give our troubled hearts to Him, He gives us rest for our souls. That kind of rest will cure our stress burnout and renew our enthusiasm for Him. The kind of rest that can face any stress in life, knowing that He will bear it for us, and we need not bear it alone!

 

Some of you need to start handing these burdens over to your Master, and the only way to do this is to spend time with Him, not once a month, not weekly at church, but every day. Open His Word, read it daily (Bible reading plan), pray constantly, releasing the burdens consciously over to Him.  This needs to be a deliberate, daily, ongoing process, but if you commit yourself to daily handing the stresses over to Him, within a week you won’t know yourself.

 

This morning, answer the Father’s call…

 

Matthew 11:28-30

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.”

 

What are you bearing this morning? What pain, what pressure, what stress?

00:0000:00

Mind Viruses 3- Loneliness Virus

July 24, 2017

In this series we’ve seen how viruses affect and infect your subconscious mind. We’ve seen how learning involves us accessing He subconscious through our conscious mind, and we found that when you consciously do an action over and over and thereby commit it to your subconscious mind, it is powerful training indeed.

 

But on the flip side, addictions are when the subconscious dictates to the conscious how to act. We call it a compulsion. But mind viruses are different… they access our subconscious mind in the most subtle of ways. Yes through our conscious mind, but in a way we would never suspect.

 

And then they can influence every part of our existence, and start influencing how we feel, react and behave, or misbehave as the case might be.

 

As a follow up to what Melva shared last week, this week I want to have a look at a virus that is increasing in frequency and affecting many of us so subtly we don’t even realise…

 

THE LONELINESS VIRUS

 

We are social creatures… always have been, always will be.

 

So here’s the irony… we live in the most connected generation in history, yet we are lonelier and more depressed than ever before! Why? Because the enemy has created a virus that infects so many of us, and society subtly infects us with this virus… the loneliness virus.

 

I met a 40 year old lady this week who told me that, after her 10 year and 2 child de facto relationship had collapsed, she is alone and miserable, so she is putting herself out there on dating websites and fighting off sleazy guys who only want sexual relations not an actual relationship. She is lonely, and she is one of millions infected by the loneliness virus.

 

Look at our Songs, movies, TV shows, books… life imitates art in that loneliness is all around.

 

WELCOME TO HEARTBREAK HOTEL

 

Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell

It’s down at the end of lonely street, called Heartbreak Hotel

You’ll be so lonely you could die.

 

Loneliness is a virus that has always been there. You hold in your hand a universal communication device. You can talk to or write texts to anybody, anywhere, any time. So clearly loneliness is not simply a function of not having the ability to communicate.

 

I mean, we have email taking seconds instead of snail mail taking weeks or months. We have cellphones to call each other, instead of trying to find a phone booth like Superman. You can have 600 Facebook friends, and be the loneliest person in the world. All this technology, all this communication and still we struggle with a feeling of being separate.

 

In fact, from birth we as human beings crave attachment and connection.  Without attachment or relationship, infants will fail to thrive. Without a feeling of connectedness, adults may yield to depression. Because God created people in His image, He made them relational.

 

Right back at creation God said,

Genesis 2:18

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

When God saw Adam alone in the Garden of Eden, He described it is “not good” (Gen. 2:18). Despite God’s own presence and relationship with Adam, God knew people also need human relationships. And nothing has changed, we still need both.

 

Human beings like you and I need both vertical intimacy (with God) and horizontal intimacy (with people) in order to feel fulfilled. Without these relationships, we are vulnerable to the complex set of emotions described as “loneliness.”

 

So, loneliness is not just being alone. I like being alone, as do many of you, some more than others. In fact, there is much to be said for being alone, to spend time with God, to ponder the meanings of life, to relax and chill, sleep, maybe think a bit, maybe cry a little.

 

Being alone on your terms, by your choice is not loneliness. That’s solitude, and I like it, even crave it at times. Loneliness is when being alone is forced upon you, and it quickly leads to depression and its associated problems. So where did this come from?

 

When sin entered the Garden, genuine intimacy disappeared. Adam and Eve blamed each other, lied, blamed God and excused themselves. From that moment, genuine intimacy with God and even with other human beings was lost. Loneliness in people has its beginnings in sin, like all other evils we see in the world.

 

WHY IS THERE AN EPIDEMIC? OR IS IT A TECHIDEMIC?

 

Any casual observer would agree that today, more than ever, the loneliness virus is rampant. Why is that, especially given we are technologically more connected than ever?

 

I think that’s it… technology and lifestyle. While the technology connects us to people on the other side of the world we don’t know and will never meet, we fail to connect socially with people right next to us in a coffee shop!

 

Truth is, more than ever before, we hide behind technology and the anonymity it offers. Couple this with a modern lifestyle that has cut the heart out of families, marriage and relationships, and you have a recipe for loneliness. Our society cannot even define who a person is and what a marriage is, so this further destabilises people’s live.

 

We are even told by society today that love and acceptance equally agreement. If we disagree with someone’s opinion apparently now we cannot love or accept them, further isolating them! One young lady I know told me she is turning into a boy, and that if I love her I would agree with her decision. I said I Di not agree with her, but nothing will stop my live for her, and she was confused.

 

 

No wonder the modern world is so miserable… we’ve put a modern twist on an age old problem!

 

In Christ, people can rediscover the pathway to genuine intimate connection, and they can catch glimpses of true and restored relationship with God and other Christians. Yet even us Christians are not yet able to fully appreciate the spiritual connection this side of heaven. Therefore, loneliness continues to be the constant companion of the human race, regardless of technology, regardless of how rich, powerful or successful you are.

 

So everyone from Napoleon to Elvis, from Marilyn Monroe to Janice Joplin, all publicly have declared struggles with loneliness. The wealthy, the powerful, the popular so often are lonely because with all the trappings, they are infected with the same mind virus.

 

And remember, a virus gets into your body and uses your own cell’s DNA against you. In the same way, this virus gets into your subconscious and uses your own thoughts, your own fears, your own sense of rejection, against you!

 

SYMPTOMS OF THE LONELINESS VIRUS

 

 

Psalm 142:1-7

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!

In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;

no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

 

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!

Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

 

The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

 

This Psalm is a beautiful illustration of the cycle of sadness, loneliness and discouragement we all face at some time, or if you’re like me, you face pretty regularly.

 

David wrote this Psalm when we was on the run from King Saul, in the cave of Adullam…

 

1 Samuel 22:2

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

 

Birds of a feather, right? He wrote these words because he was surrounded by 400 people of like mind, oppressed, depressed, distressed and miserable. Even in that crowd, he was alone. 

 

He was the leader, he was the one they looked to, so he couldn’t let them see how he actually felt inside. Like many of you, he painted on a happy face and came to church. He smiled and said, “She’ll be right mate,” but inside he was desperately lonely.  You can put flowers on a grave to make it look nice, but inside there’s still death and destruction.

 

So let’s look at the symptoms of the virus that David expresses in this Psalm…

 

 

1.     FEELING OVERWHELMED

 

Verse 3, my spirit faints within me. The Hebrew for this word faints means overwhelmed, swooning, made feeble, fainting or muffled. Circumstances are such that they overwhelm him and actually muffle his spirit. I experience this often, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed to the point of numbness.

 

Some of you here will feel like that right now. Whatever is troubling you, whatever you struggle with within, you reach the point of overwhelm, like you’re about to faint, and the joy of the Lord is not your strength, it’s a distant memory, muffled and suppressed.

 

 

2.     FEELING DESERTED

 

Psalms 142:4

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;

no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

 

Notice the lonely words David uses… total rejection, abandonment, isolation. No one cares he laments, because he’s hunted by Saul, abandoned by friends, surrounded by the world.

 

I bet many here feel like that. You ask, does anyone even notice me? Does anyone care? Does anyone even notice how I feel? I’m so alone

 

 

3.     FEELING DEPRESSED

 

Psalms 142:6

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!

 

That phrase in Hebrews literally means to be in a valley experience, emotionally so low, a walking through the valley of the shadow of death experience. That’s the lowest ebb of human existence, the bottom of the pit, where all hope is gone. To put it in 21st century speak, he is depressed, zo low he needs Zo-loft! We would rather medicate than meditate on God’s Word and promises!

 

 

 

4.     FEELING HOPELESS

 

Verse 6 continues... Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

 

At this point he is feels so alone that he is without hope.  Those against him are too strong, those with him too down, he feels lonely, depresses and at his lowest point. The walls are closing in, and in the next verse he cries,

 

Psalms 142:7

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

 

Some of you here feel like you are in prison. You try and cheer up. You dress the prison up with nice curtains and furniture, but it is still a prison.

 

Today is the day you begin to dismantle your prison, because today Jesus says…

 

Luke 4:18

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

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

 

Is the loneliness virus oppressing you today?

 

WHAT IS THE CURE FOR THE COMMON LONELINESS VIRUS?

 

The cure for this potentially devastating and debilitating virus is multi step, but you can and will overcome the virus of loneliness in your life. The answer is not to join a social network, or dating site, because with all the tech, we still need real people and real relationships, right here where we stand, right now! Let’s get back to that Psalm…

 

1.     RECOGNISE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

Psalms 142:3

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!

In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

 

David recognises and even visualises the rough, difficult, dark path, the valley of the shadow of death. Later he visualises a prison, and what he is doing here is recognising his emotions. When you visualise, it bypasses the intellect and goes to the heart. That’s why songs and movies are so powerful and tug at your emotions.

 

So if you feel lonely and broken-hearted, don’t suppress it, recognise it as a valid and very real emotion.  

 

We often fake it, don’t we? We come to God with pious platitudes not honest openness. Listen, God is not interested in religious prayers, He responds to open and contrite hearts. We have the greatest friend, the One who created and redeemed us, who longs to meet our every need, spiritual, emotional and physical, and we can’t even open up and be honest with Him. We cannot fool Him you know!

 

Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

Step 1 is recognising your emotions and how you feel and this must lead to step 2, being honest and telling God how you actually feel, even if it’s ugly. He’s big, He can take it!

 

 

2.     VERBALISE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

Psalms 142:1-2

Psalm 142

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

 

He does the same in verse 5, and 7. David verbalised how he felt, he didn’t dress it up and pretend, he didn’t toughen up soldier on, he offered cries and complaints not a stiff upper lip!

 

Habakkuk 1:2

 

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

 

Habakkuk didn’t hold back and sound all godly, he let God know how he felt. It’s ok to tell God that you are lonely, that you are down and miserable, because He can take it and He won’t take offence. But bear in mind that your anger, frustration and lashing out at God isn’t what impresses Him… your faith does!

 

 

3.     RECOGNISE HIS PRESENCE

 

Psalms 142:5

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

 

This is the turning point… the moment when, having recognised our feelings and emotions, having verbalised them, having ranted and raved and got it out of our system, we then need to take our eyes off how we feel and place them firmly on Christ, our provider and our sustainer. We need to hide in the shadow of His wings, we need to turn our eyes upon Him.

 

Psalms 34:18

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

 

When you are overwhelmed by loneliness, stop and recognise that He is with you. He cares, He loves you, He wants the best for you and He walks the road with you, as in Psalm 23.

 

I remember when my girls hit puberty. Suddenly, instead of logical processing of problems we got the waterworks. I remember as a father reaching the point where it was all too much emotion for me, so I would walk away and say, talk to your mum! But God never does that. He is always there, He is always ready to listen, to save and to care for you. He never leaves you.

 

4.     RECOGNISE HIS PAST PROVISION

 

Look back at your life. How many times has God sustained you, provided for you, blessed you?

 

Psalms 77:11-12

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

 

We don’t stop to remember how we have been blessed enough, do we? When we recognise His provision in our lives, our faith is strengthened, and we recognise that

 

Philippians 4:19

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

 

This includes emotional needs. This includes His promises

 

5.     RECOGNISE HIS PROMISES

 

If you are lonely, God makes you a promise...

 

Psalms 68:5-6 (NIV)

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

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing;

but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

 

We live in a sun-scorched land, full of loneliness and pain. But God promises to set the lonely in families, and this church is a family, here for you. What we all need to do is take our eyes off our circumstances and feelings, and place them firmly on God and His promises!

 

6.     REACH OUT AND SERVE OTHERS

 

I know this might seem crazy, but when you are lonely one of the best things you can do is to serve others. Why? Because it takes your eyes off yourself as you serve others. And the church is a great place to do that.

 

Hebrews 10:24-25

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

 

If you’re lonely today, please don’t pull away. Let us stand with you, let us open our arms to you. So many isolate ems elves when they are feeling down, and that just drives the virus further into your subconscious. Don’t run, stay and open up to those who will love you. I know you’re fearful, but we are family, and we love you. Sure, every family has an annoying sister or a weird uncle, but as unworthy and inadequate as we are, many here want to share the journey with you. If you open up, if you have a heart to serve others, your loneliness will begin to dry up!

 

 

7.     REACH OUT TO HIM

 

But we must also recognise that no person, no pastor and no church can ever be all that we need. No person can ever fully take our loneliness, so pressuring people around us to fulfil our needs is foolishness. They cannot possibly do it.

 

Only One person can be all that you need, and only One can take away the loneliness you feel. Yes surround yourself with good people who love you, and this church needs to be part of that, but only One can fully cure the virus of loneliness …

 

James 4:7-8

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

 

Drawing near to God is the ultimate cure for loneliness. Can you trust Him to build the right human relationships into your life?

 

John 14:16-18

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

 

Lonely people either draw away from God or towards Him. It’s a simple choice. So what will it be today for you?

 

THE MISSING LINK

 

So what’s the missing link in the battle against loneliness? Here’s a hint… it helps you draw near to Christ.  That’s right, reading the Bible every day is the great kept to conquering loneliness.

 

So today, I want to ask you to stand.

 

Let me finish with the words of Paul. Let us take these in and believe them today, and let us live them…

 

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

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.

00:0000:00

Interrupted by Divine Appointment- Ps Melva Kajewski

July 17, 2017

How often have you been interrupted by divine appointment?  I bet it's far more frequently than you realise, and that's where Melva's message today is so powerful.  

This dynamite message will not only encourage and bless you, but it will also make you stop and realise just how important it is to listen to the Lord every moment of every day, and act in obedience.  All around us are people in pain, people struggling to get by in life dealing with loneliness, disappointments, and fears, and we can be used by God to bless and encourage them if only we would listen and obey.

 

Thanks to Melva for this moving and powerful message...

00:0000:00

Mind Viruses 2- Love of the World Virus

July 10, 2017

Last week we looked at your mind as a computer, and we talked about the programs running in the background as being like your subconscious. We discovered that when your subconscious controls your conscious, it can either be good forming a good habit, or destructive causing addiction.

 

The way you overcome addictions and bad habits is by controlling your subconscious, but you cannot do that directly, you have to change it via your conscious mind. We found that addictions and bad habits can be overcome, and good habits can be formed, by the conscious choices we make. It all starts it's a decision.

 

But like many computer programs, our mind can also be affected by viruses. So what is a virus and how does it affect us.

 

VIRUSES- MEDICAL, MICROCHIP AND MIND

 

Computer viruses are named after medical viruses, and we all have experienced something of these. Viruses are not bacteria, but are far more sinister and harder to control and be healed of. So what is the difference?

 

Bacteria are living microorganisms that infect and attack your body’s cells. They reproduce themselves and either engulf other cells or poison them with a toxin.

 

Viruses on the other hand are just tiny parcels of DNA.  They inject themselves into your actual body cells, and take over the cell machinery, thereby using your own cell material to reproduce itself? It attacks you by using your own cells against you! They're often constantly changing form, and because they use your own cells against you, usually far harder to kill. They require a living host to spread, and many cannot be cured at all, such as HIV and the flu, but only the symptoms can be treated, until the bodies immune system fights them off. You become infected by somehow touching, breathing or interacting with an infected person.

 

Computer viruses are similar, often piggybacking in on emails or hidden in programs. Click on the attachment, it fires up and affects programs you are currently running. You get infected by actively interacting with an infected program.

 

Mind viruses likewise sneak into your mind, planted there by the world and/or the devil. They affect the apps you're running in your life, both conscious and subconscious, and like the medical and microchip variety, mind viruses use your own personality and subconscious mind against you. They're also ever changing and fast evolving, so we need to be alert to recognise these viruses! You become infected by interacting with and then tolerating sin in you life.

 

 

GOING VIRAL

 

So where do computer viruses come from? Well, somebody, some brilliant but twisted hacker out there designs them. They tend to have cute names like klez, Anna Kornicova or I Love You, and they can infect any computer if we don't have antivirus in place and up to date.

 

One of they latest I heard of is called WannaCry, and it is ransomware. It locks up data on your computer and only releases it when you pay of $300 US. It is actually based on a code called Eternal Blue, which was developed by the US National Security Agency or NSA.

 

And like computer viruses, mind viruses are designed by a malignant Spirit called the devil, they are downloaded through society and when fired up they control our minds and hold us to ransom! They infect our subconscious mind often without us knowing it, and make us do things we don't want to do or give in to temptations we don't want to give in to, and we don't even know about them!

 

The first family of viruses we will look at is called …

 

LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS

 

1 John 2:15-16

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

 

Does John mean we can't feel affection towards anything in the world. I can’t love a new car or a nice home? I can't love my wife, my kids, the Broncos, or Paul McCartney? We need to understand what John is saying here, or we'd better just put on a robe and head off to a monastery!

 

In the past, this verse has been used to stop people going to the cinema, wearing shorts or wearing makeup. The last one has worked on me!

 

But to understand this virus we need to unpack 2 words… love and the world.

 

WHAT IN THE WORLD!

 

The Greek word used here is KOSMOS, which has 3 meanings in the Bible. It can refer to the earth, but that's not the meaning here.  It also can refer to the people living on said earth, but that also isn't the meaning here, such as in John 3:16, for God so loved the world. We need to love our earth, and Scripture clearly teaches us to love people, so what's the third meaning?

 

Sometimes the word “world” is used to refer to the world system, the organised, evil system with its principles and its practices, all of which are under the authority of Satan. This includes all teachings, ideas, culture, attitudes, activities, etc., that are opposed to God.

 

A fixation on the material over the spiritual, a promotion of self over others, pleasure over principle—these are just a few descriptors of the world system John is talking about. The word “world” here means everything that opposes Christ and his work on earth. Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world.”

 

John 14:30

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.

 

and Paul called him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

 

LOVE AND HATE

 

Believe it or not, love and hate often go together. On a first grade hospital excursion one child asked why everybody kept washing their hands. The nurse replied, “Because we love health and hate germs!” So what is John trying to say in this passage?

 

The Word for LOVE here is in Greek AGAPE, which refers to the highest form of love, unconditional love. So John is hitting his readers right between the eyes saying, “When you love things of the world to the point where you invest all your time, resources and thoughts into it, you're infected by the virus!”

 

John writes this because some Christians had become too cozy with the world system. They had begun to compromise with the world. They were giving too much ground to the world’s way of thinking and acting. Things in the world began to look more and more glamorous. As the hair commercial says, it doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. It's slow, subtle and like a frog in a pot of gradually boiled water, we don't recognise it soon enough!

 

So Christians had taken their eyes off the Lord, and off things eternal and all they could see is the world. That's exactly what we see today in our society, isn't it? Christians compromising, pastors preaching love without holiness and suddenly the minds of believers becomes infected with the LOVE THE WORLD virus.

 

James 4:4

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

 

If you love the world system, the money, the prestige, the success, and if you love these things of the world more than God, this virus is affecting you and according to a James, it's as if you you hate God!

 

THE ACTION OF THE LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS

 

Loving the world is the sin of allowing your appetites, ambitions, and conduct to be fashioned according to earthly values.

 

So how does this virus act, what are the symptoms of it, and are you infected? Here's 7 telltale signs that you're infected with the LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS…

 

1.     WHEN ALL THOUGHTS ARE CONSUMED BY IT

 

When the world, or any object in it, so engrosses our thoughts to such a degree that it excludes serious reflection on the things of God, we are guilty of loving the world.

 

Dr Carl Tanzler was a German doctor working in Florida, when he became obsessed with a young TB patient Ellen Hoyos, showering her with gifts and professing his love for her. She died of the disease in 1931, but he was so obsessed with her he exhumed her body, preserved it as best he could and kept her in his home with him for 7 years. That is obsession, where his love for her transcended common sense and decency!

 

You won't have done that, but I'm sure you've felt the effects of this virus at some time. We might call it obsession, or maybe stalking, but there are times when what we want, or who we want fills our minds constantly. In these times it is almost impossible to concentrate on God, reading His Word is dry and boring and going to church is a chore, because all we want is that one thing, to the exclusion of God!

 

Let me be specific… it is wrong to want success. It's not bad to be an ardent supporter of a football club, or a fan of a singer. It's not wrong to love a car, love your house or love your spouse. These are normal, wonderful feelings that bring us joy. But there is a line!

 

It becomes wrong when we exclude God and become obsessed with the thing or person.

 

Colossians 3:2

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

 

When you want it more than you want God, you're infected!

 

2.     WHEN CONVERSATION IS ONLY ON IT

 

Our conversation gives our heart away! What do you talk about a lot? What fills your speech?  When the things of the world engross most or all of our conversation, we are loving the world.

 

Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

In other words, what you are constantly talking about gives away what your heart is really obsessed with. If your conversation rarely includes God, what you've read in His Word, serving the Lord, church activities, etc. then ask what you are actually talking about!  If you talk more about worldly things than about God, you're infected!

 

3.     WHEN YOU CANNOT OR WILL NOT GIVE IT UP

 

If we are unwilling to part with something when need to, or to give it or anything in it up to God’s purposes, we are loving the world. When we refuse to give up something God asks us to, it is a sign that we love it more than we love God.

 

One of the hardest to give up to God is money… the Rich young Ruler

 

Matthew 19:21-22

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

He didn't just have great possessions, they had him! What is it that has you that you won't give it up for God? If you won't give up something or someone for the Lord, you're infected!

 

4.     WHEN YOU PRIDE YOURSELF IN IT

 

Pride is the original sin. If we pride ourselves in earthly distinctions, positions reputations or if we feel superior, if we expect others to treat us well and resent the smallest slight from others or take offence easily, we are loving the world.

 

God feels strongly about pride… He hates it!

 

Proverbs 16:5

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;

be assured, he will not go unpunished.

 

Even in the church pride is an issue! And the answer is not false humility, which is often how prideful Christians try and negate their pride. They gave me a badge for humility, but they took it off me because I wore it!

 

You can be proud of a job well done, or proud of your spouse, but that's not being prideful. When you become arrogant, feeling or acting superior, then you're loving the world more than the Lord, and loving yourself and your achievements instead of acknowledging that every success we have, every good thing we acquire, every compliment we receive is from God, not us!

 

If you're arrogant or prideful, you're infected!

 

5.     WHEN YOU HAVEN'T GOT IT BUT LONG FOR IT

 

You don't have to have possession of something to have obsession with it! What do you long for? Companionship? A new car? Prestige? Money? Someone else's wife?

 

Discontentment with our portion of the world’s goods proclaims a criminal love for it. If we secretly grieve because we are not blessed with every earthly convenience or experience that others possess, we are loving the world.

 

If we envy others we cannot truly trust God that He should distribute his own gifts as he pleases and to whom he pleases.  

 

James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

 

Some rich people, all they talk about is money…. And some poor people too! And some of us are obsessed with the pursuit of money.

 

Sometimes I've found that poor people are more obsessed with money than rich. Everything they talk about, think about and everything they do is about getting more money, and how much they don't have!  You don't have to have something to be obsessed by it!

 

What do you long for in your life? If you cannot answer more of Jesus and His Word, then it's a symptom of loving the world. If you're full of envy, you're infected!

 

6.     WHEN YOU PURSUE IT MORE THAN GOD

 

When we pursue the world with greater zeal and enjoy it with higher relish than we do serving God and enjoying his favour, we are loving the world.

 

So how much do you want something, and what are you prepared to do in order to get it.

 

1 Timothy 6:10-11

For the love of money is a root of all. kinds of evils. It is through this craving (longing) that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

 

Prostitute study. University campus, students were asked how much it would take for the, to sleep with someone they didn't know. Whatever the figure, you're a prostitute!

 

That verse says pursue righteousness, godliness, faith love, steadfastness and gentleness. Pursuing anything else, however good, reveals an idol in our hearts! If you're pursuing something that's not of God, you're infected!

 

 

 

7.     WHEN YOU USE ANY MEANS TO ACQUIRE IT

 

As believers we have a standard… we must be Holy because He is Holy.

 

When we seek to obtain or retain the world’s objects in a wrong or ungodly manner or by questionable means, we are loving the world.

 

Proverbs 11:3

The integrity of the upright guides them,

but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

 

When you love Jesus, the ends does not justify the means! If you are faithful to Him, if you are honest and have integrity, then you can rest assured that He is working on your behalf. You cannot lie cheat and steal and expect God's blessing. You might seem to prosper now, but you will give an account! If you're prepared to compromise your Christian walk and principles in order to get somewhere, or get something, you're infected!

 

THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF THIS VIRUS

 

1 John 2:15

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

 

You cannot say you love God but live like you love the world! The two are incompatible. They are like oil and water, fire and ice, myself and classy dressing!

 

Imagine proposing to a girl and she says, “yes, I'll marry you, but I love and am devoted to my ex boyfriend far more than you and I am never going to stop loving him, and putting him first.” Would you go ahead with it? I wouldn't!

 

Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”  In fact, you cannot serve God and anything else!

 

1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

 

Verse 16 defines what the world system consists of with three parallel phrases:

 

LUST OF THE FLESH

 

The Word desires is actually the word lusts, from the Greek meaning to be hot after or burn for something. In our world we think of lust in a sexual way, but John is thinking way beyond that.

 

Lust of the Flesh means a burning desire for anything that satisfies your flesh, to the exclusion of what God wants you to have.  It is becoming a slave to pleasures, becoming  prisoner of your own desires. You might think you're free to satisfy your lust for everything , but no matter how nicely you decorate your cell, you're still a prisoner!

 

Taken to the extreme, lust of the flesh makes us become “gluttonous in food, . . . slavish in pleasure, lustful and lax in morals, selfish in the use of possessions; regardless of all the spiritual values; extravagant in the gratification of selfish or material desires.” And it is closely linked with…

 

 

LUST OF THE EYES

 

“The lust of the eyes” describes someone who is captivated by an outward show of materialism. See a new car, must have it. See a dress, must have it. See a position, must have it.

 

Cars, houses, dresses, positions, etc., are not in and of themselves sinful. But the inordinate desire to have what we see is sinful. An inordinate desire to have anything contrary to God’s will is sinful. It's lust of the eyes.

 

Our society, the world if you like, spends billions of dollars trying to stimulate the lust of the flesh and the eyes. If it's not sex, it's cars, houses or the latest gadget. We think that pleasure is our God ordained right, and we will pay any price to have happiness.

 

 

PRIDE OF LIFE

 

The third phrase, “pride of life,” describes the arrogant spirit of self-sufficiency. It expresses the desire for recognition, applause, status, and advantage in life. The phrase describes the pride in what life can offer you.

 

This is definitely part of our modern life, as evidenced by that which sums up our modern world… the selfie!  We have a self serving attitude in everything, and it's all about me. It's like standing in the old house of mirrors, where they have mirrors on either side of you. Everywhere you look as far as the eye can see, is me, me, me, I , I, I?

 

 

So all of these things are the symptoms of a mind viral infection called the LOVE OF THE WORLD VIRUS. Now let me conclude with God’s antivirus…

 

THE ANTIVIRUS

 

You can choose what you become obsessed with. You can follow a team, or be a crazy fan. You can love a person, or be consumed by your love of them. The choice is yours. David wrote…

 

Psalms 69:9

For zeal for your house has consumed me,

 

And later Paul encourages us…

 

Romans 12:11

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

 

The cure to the LOVE OF THE WORLD virus is simple… love the Lord more. But how can you do that? How can you fall in love with the Lord more and more every day?

 

We looked at it last week… the way to combat this virus, to protect yourself from it and to refuse it’s influence in your subconscious is simply this.  Fill your subconscious mind with the things of God, things that place God and His values centrally into  mind.

 

Philippians 4:8

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

 

The best antivirus program for your mind to combat and protect against this virus is to fill your mind with good and godly things. If you suspect that you're infected, turn off that TV, get off Facebook, stop reading 50 Shades of Gray and start reading the Bible, listening to Christian music and coming to church. Don't just surround yourself with godly thoughts, immerse yourself in them, until your zeal for God far exceeds the pull of the world.

 

Colossians 3:2

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

 

Every one of us here feel the pull of this virus, without exception.  What is it that is pulling you, how has this virus infected you?

 

What is it that caresses you, obsesses you, possesses you?

 

I want you to Image you have your entire life in your hands and come and lay it before God this morning.

 

 

 

 

00:0000:00