Immanuel- God With Us

As Christmas approaches excitement builds, as does the commercial hype. This world seems intent on sucking the bits it wants out of Christmas, and spitting out the rest with contempt, like cardamon pods in a curry.

So the world replaced Christ in Christmas with an X, it wants a holiday, but not a holy day, it wants a decorated tree not not a man hanging in a cursed tree and above all, it wants lots of presents, but not God’s presence.

People who refuse to teach their children about God instead teach them about Santa.

 

The red Santa Claus as we know him was created by Haddon Sundblom for a Coke advertisement in 1931.

 

I could share a message on wise men or angels or a  baby in a manger, you’ve probably heard hundreds for them, but today I want to take you right back to an OT Messianic prophecy written some 700 years before the events of that first Christmas. Today we focus on the main person, not Mary, Shepherds or wise men… Jesus. Isaiah 9. Enter Immanuel!

 

A RAY OF HOPE

 

Let me give some background here. Isaiah was prophesying doom and gloom to his nation, Judah, which faced the threat of the mighty, all conquering and evil Assyrian Empire. People were rebelling against God from their leaders down, they were tolerating and even performing all kinds of evil, and they thought, because they were God’s chosen ones, they could get away with it.

 

I watched a storm a little while ago over the mountains. Lightning flashed, thunder rolled, all around was thick darkness, and then there was a small break in the dark clouds, and an exceptionally bright light shone through the gloom. That’s what Isaiah is seeing here…

 

Isaiah prophesied doom and gloom, defeat and exile for a wayward, unrepentant people. But in the middle he gives us a ray of hope, Immanuel…

 

Isaiah 9:2 (ESV Strong’s)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

 

The Hebrew for “great light” is “or”, and it refers to the sun. What he is saying is that it’s darkest before the dawn, but that dawn will surely come. If your world is dark today, open your heart and let the great light dawn within you.

 

GOD’S GREAT GIFT

 

Isaiah then goes on to describe this great light, God’s greatest gift…

 

Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

This is clearly a Messianic prophecy, and this morning I want to pull this passage apart, or unpack it if you will, to discover Immanuel.

 

IMMANUEL

 

This prophetic Word starts with a child being born, but as we shall see it goes way beyond the baby in a manger.

 

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV Strong’s)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

 

Immanuel means God with us in Hebrew, and it was given as a prophetic word, quoted in Matthew 1:23 as directly referring to Jesus.

 

But I want to know why Isaiah’s prophecies don’t just refer to a baby in a manger, or even the mission of the cross Jesus came to fulfil, but they seem to head a different direction.

 

JESUS, GOD, MAN, AND IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US

 

Isaiah is not just revealing a Christmas prophecy, he is giving us a glimpse of God Himself, and not just the first but also the second coming of Jesus. This prophecy is double barrelled!

 

Prophecy is often like this. It’s like a great mountain hidden by a small hill. The immediate prophecy sometimes hides a greater and more awesome fulfilment.

 

Firstly, to us a child us born. This is the good news of Christmas, that while we were dead in our sins, destined for hell, God provided a solution which involved Jesus becoming a man to save us.

 

Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

For to us a child is born speaks of the humanness of Jesus, that though He is actually  God, He became a man, a perfect man, starting as we all do, as a babe in the arms of His mother.

 

But the next phrase of Isaiah’s prophecy reveals more… To us a son is given. This speaks of the deity of Jesus.

 

Jesus became a man to get the job done and save us, but He was and always will be God Himself. It’s a mystery, that God can be 3 in one, but just because it is beyond our understanding doesn’t mean it’s not true. Jesus is fully God and fully man.

 

AWAY IN A MANGER?

 

Everyone loves babies, and so Christmas is a time of joy and love. A baby came to earth that first Christmas, and He grew into a man who laid His life down for all of us to reconcile wayward man with holy God. If the story stopped here it would still be wonderful, but as they say, wait, there’s more!

 

Jesus rose from the dead, and though Isaiah started with the baby in a manger, but in his prophecy he saw saw far beyond the baby, and he describes the Son is given by using a series of names.

 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV Strong’s)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

Government is not in a baby’s shoulders. A baby makes a lousy counsellor. Clearly he is not talking about a Jesus coming as a baby, but he’s seeing ahead to when Jesus returns as a King.

 

THE COMING KING

 

Jesus was a baby for a few years, He was a man for 33 years, but He is God and the King of Kings from before time until forever!

 

That’s why Isaiah uses these incredible names for Jesus. That’s why Paul flips from the humility of Christ straight to the triumph and deity of Christ…

 

Philippians 2:6-11 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

So let’s look at the names Isaiah has for Jesus, the returning King…

 

WONDERFUL

 

“Wonderful”—this is not an adjective; this is actually His name. The term doesn’t just describe Jesus, it is Him! He is wonderful. In the Hebrew the word is Pele, meaning a miracle, something beyond understanding, something marvellous.

 

Interestingly, a derivative of this word, also translated as wonderful is used to describe the pre incarnate Jesus as the Captain of the hosts of the Lord, when Samson’s dad asks the name of who he thinks is an angel…

 

Judges 13:18 (ESV Strong’s)

And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”

 

The Hebrew this case it also means secret. The Son of God is wonderful, but it is a secret hidden from most people today. Paul writes,

 

Colossians 1:26-27 (ESV Strong’s)

the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

There are Christians who have trusted Him as Savior but really don’t know how wonderful He is, and they don’t live in His wonderful power even though He is Immanuel. I hope that this Christmas you discover afresh the wonder, the glory and the miracles of Jesus, the coming King.

 

COUNSELLOR

 

Jesus is a counsellor, in Hebrew ya-as. There’s no record of Him seeking counsel. The Lord Jesus Christ never called His disciples together and said, “Now, guys, what do you think I ought to do?” You don’t read anything like that in Scripture. The Lord called them together and said, “This is what I am going to do, because this is My Father’s will.” He was the counsellor.

 

If you face fears or decisions today, Jesus longs to be your wonderful Counsellor, your Immanuel. When you ask Jesus into your life, His Spirit lives within you and will reveal truth and guide you in all you do…

 

John 16:13 (ESV Strong’s)

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.

 

If you are burdened today, He is your counsellor. This same Jesus says,

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Some of you here have a heavy yoke upon your shoulder, and it is ill fitting. It rubs, it hurts, it causes pain and travail and even scars, but Jesus is the true counsellor who can share the burden and make it light. Give Him your fear and pain today, for He’s no longer a babe, He’s a King and a conqueror, He is Immanuel.

 

MIGHTY GOD

 

“The mighty God”—The Hebrew word for this name is El Gibbor. He is the one to whom “all power is given.” He is the omnipotent God, creator, sustainer of life.

 

That little baby lying helpless in Mary’s arms is Immanuel, and He held the universe together. He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” He is the Mighty God! As the writer to the Hebrews puts it,

 

Hebrews 1:3 (ESV Strong’s)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

 

He knows everything, every thought you have, every scrap of knowledge, He sees everything, He is everywhere and He is in control of all things. He became a man for 33 years, but Jesus describes Himself as…

 

Revelation 1:8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

EVERLASTING FATHER

 

Isaiah calls Him the everlasting father, from before time to beyond time, in the Greek, apó aiónia se aiónia… From everlasting to everlasting.

 

“The everlasting Father”—Avi-ad in Hebrew, means Father of eternity. This simply means that He is the Creator of all things, even time, the ages, and the far-off purpose of all things.

 

John 1:3 (ESV Strong’s)

All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

 

Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV Strong’s)

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

Try and comprehend the immensity of Jesus, Immanuel. We can picture Him as a baby, and as a man hanging on a cross,  but we cannot comprehend Him as the creator.

 

PRINCE OF PEACE

 

“The Prince of Peace”—In Hebrew, Sar-Shalohim. I spoke a few weeks back about peace, and said that man for all is efforts will never find peace apart for Christ. You will never know peace in your life without knowing the Prince of Peace.

 

Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong’s)

“Glory to God in the highest,

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

 

But Isaiah here is not specifically talking about you having peace in your heart, although God through His Holy Spirit can achieve this for you. No, Isaiah is looking ahead to the hope we who love Jesus all share, the return of the King.

 

And when Jesus returns again, He will take His place in the throne of David in Jerusalem and usher peace for a millennium, peace beyond human comprehension!

 

The great news for us is that we do not need to wait until His return to experience supernatural peace, we can have it right now as we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit. He’s the same God.

 

Jesus could return as King at any moment, Immanuel is returning soon! So we should live everyday like this. I feel like time us short, like there is still much to do and so I choose to maximise what I’m doing for Jesus.

 

GOD IS THE GREAT MYSTERY

 

There are many great mysteries in the world…

 

I don’t know the average 4 year old asks more than 400 questions per day. Or why we yawn, or get goosebumps. I don’t know why the planets stay in their places, why we have seasons, why snowflakes are so intricate or why our belly buttons have special hairs that attract and retain lint. I’ve never understood why boys’ bikes have the bar across them.

 

Our knowledge is limited, and our ability to comprehend or even describe God is also limited. Paul describes this great mystery…

 

1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

 

This Christmas, join Isaiah in seeing beyond the baby, the manger, the tinsel and the presents. Use prophetic eyes and see ahead to who Jesus really is… Immanuel! He was a baby for a year or two, He was a man for 33 years but He was and is and is to come the returning King!

 

Normally I would call you to make a stand for Jesus in some way, but today, as Christmas approaches, I’m going to ask you to join me in worshipping the King, Immanuel.

 

Our nation needs godly men and women who honour and serve God, who know He is returning soon and who are prepared to both praise and fight for what is true and right…

 

Psalms 149:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)

Let the godly exult in glory;

let them sing for joy on their beds.

Let the high praises of God be in their throats

and two-edged swords in their hands,

 

So while we remember and honour the baby Jesus, we rejoice in what the man Jesus did, but we look forward with hope and expectation to the return of the King. Let’s praise Him now!

A Chance to Draw Near

It’s time to draw near to God this Christmas. I mentioned last week in my message the stress and pressure most of us face at the end of the year. 2019 has been a difficult year for many of us, and I feel like I’m heading towards flopping into Christmas rather than celebrating it.

But in my devotions, the Lord has been challenging me not to draw a blank, not to withdraw, not to draw the wrong conclusions but to draw near to Him.

Hebrews 10:22-25 (ESV Strong’s)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

THE END OF YEAR BLUES

 

As the end of the year approaches, it’s tempting to grow tired, to give up, to withdraw from church and deal with life’s pressures alone. But God has challenged me to flip this around and see the approaching time off over Christmas as the start of the 2020, the year of vision.

 

God is about to do something remarkable at Ignite in 2020, and the best preparation we can undergo is at the start of the passage I just read…

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

 

Today I want to dive deep into a word study of the phrase “draw near.”

 

IT IS TIME TO DRAW NEAR

 

Draw near is proserchomai in Greek, which means to approach, accede to. It is usually used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew qerab, and in both Hebrew and Greek it pictures the idea of closeness to the object being approached.

 

Proserchomai is used in several places in the NT, for example in Matthew 5:1 where the disciples draw close to Jesus, denoting a closeness and level of intimacy, and also in…

 

Matthew 4:11 (ESV Strong’s)

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came (drew near) and were ministering to him.

 

What, then, does it mean biblically to draw near to God, and his can we do this in the hustle and bustle of life in the 21st century?

 

1.      WE MUST HAVE A PURE HEART

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. What does this actually mean?

 

Drawing near to God means having a sincere desire for truth.

 

We live in a world where the truth is what you make it, and where google is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. We live in a world where anyone and everyone believes it’s their God given right to voice their opinions at any cost.

 

People no longer search for truth, they create their own and call it an absolute. Actions and lifestyles that just a decade ago were considered abnormal and even abhorrent are now not only tolerated they are championed under our new, self constructed version of truth.

 

The Greek words rendered “true heart” are alethines kardias. The Greek word aletheia speaks of a truth that is absolute, irrefutable, incontestable, unarguable, and unchanging. The specific form of the Greek used here also refers to “sincerity.” The  Greek is telling us that a true heart is honest, absolute and doesn’t change every 5 minutes.

 

Kardia, which means heart, doesn’t just refer to an emotion, “an affair of the heart”.  In Greek, it refers also to the reason and to the faculty of intelligence. So in Greek, it implies you are ruled by both your heart and your head.

 

A true heart doesn’t say, throw away your brain, it says engage your mind and see the truth for what it really is. And it sets you free…

 

John 8:32 (ESV Strong’s)

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

GOD ON MY OWN TERMS?

 

While many people today say such things as, “I want to be near God,” or “I want to get close to God,” when confronted with the absolutes of God’s Word, they rebel. That’s a staggering contradiction!

 

In truth, they don’t want to draw near to God at all. They are like the Israelites, of whom Isaiah wrote…

 

Isaiah 29:13 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Yes, they say the words, but when it comes down to real truth, they reject it and live according to their own ways. The most important thing that drawing near to God requires is that we sincerely want to hear, receive, and obey God’s truth.

 

So many in church are like this today. They want God, yes, but on their own terms. They want a God who meets their needs, or wants. They want a celestal

Santa Clause, and they believe if they are not naughty but nice, He will shower the, with everything they want. They want to negotiate with God and get as much as they can from Him for the minimum outlay.  For some, drawing near to God is about obeying rules instead of longing, thirsting for and paying any cost to connect with God.

 

Psalms 63:1 (ESV Strong’s)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

Australia is in the grip of severe drought. But that is nothing compared to the drought in the souls of our people. This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls, and we will fail in our God given calling and just play church week after week in our little church clubs if we do not draw near to Him with a true heart.

 

2.      WE MUST HAVE ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE TO DRAW NEAR

 

Hebrews 10:22 (ESV Strong’s)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

 

Drawing near to God means having absolute confidence in God. The Greek for “full assurance” is plerophoria, which means “entire confidence, full assurance.” To be near to God, then, means that we must have total confidence in His promises, absolute assurance of His provision, and full and complete trust in His sovereignty.

 

What does this look like? It means we trust Him whether He does what we want or not. Absolute confidence is absolute faith in and absolutely faithful God.

 

When Kaileigh was born, and did not breathe for 7 minutes, by God’s grace to us she survived. I remember praying and thanking God for His goodness, and then He spoke this to our hearts… if I’d have taken her home, would I still be a good God?

 

You see, the more we doubt Him, the more we question Him, the farther away from Him we drift. The more we trust Him, the closer we can draw to Him.

 

And of course in the modern world, questioning and doubting are considered desirable when it comes to God. The media will despise and attack you if you question their morality or what they consider truth, but they implore the young to throw away the antiquated, draconian faith of their parents and question everything.

 

Church is seen as at best irrelevant and at worst holding back the new order of truth.

 

But what they don’t count on is the absolute infallibility of Scripture, that

 

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

 

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV Strong’s)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

God loves you, He has plans for you, He has a hope and a future, and He has opened the way for you to draw near to Him. Do it today with the confidence that He will never change, and will never, never let you down!

 

3.      WE MUST HAVE HOLINESS

 

It may not be fashionable to say it, but the third requirement for drawing near to God is holiness.

 

Hebrews 12:14 (ESV Strong’s)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

 

The imagery in the words “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” is distinctly OT, referring to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice for the cleansing of sin.

 

Jesus was that sacrifice for us, because He came as a perfect sacrifice and laid His life willingly down for us.

 

Hebrews 9:12 (ESV Strong’s)

he (Jesus) entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

 

But not only are we saved by this blood, but we are constantly brought back to it for daily cleansing.

 

Hebrews 9:14 (ESV Strong’s)

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

 

We are saved by the shed blood of Jesus, but we are also constantly purified by kneeling at the cross daily, drawing near to Him and allowing His blood to purify our hearts and minds.

 

We are forever coming back to the Cross, for it is there that our sin was dealt with and our conscience was cleared. You cannot play or stay with sin and draw near to God, because God is holy. But, as the apostle John declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

I fear for the church in this nation. We keep quiet when we should speak, we live in fear of the media, we cocoon ourselves in our churches, surrounded by religious rules, religious rituals and religious language, while our nation marches proud of their tolerance on to hell!

 

Saw a FB post recently that as an old rocker quite liked… It’s a stairway to heaven, but a highway to hell, and that says something about expected traffic flows.

 

To draw near to God, we must be holy in all we say and do, because partial holiness is unholiness!

 

As Edmund Burton said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for God men to do nothing.” This week in my quiet times God challenged me from Ezekiel 22 to be that one who stands in the gap for his people and his nation. Will you join me and be the one standing in the gap between sinful man and holy God?

 

4.      WE MUST HAVE A DESIRE FOR HIS WORD

 

Lastly, drawing near to God means having a desire for His Word. While the first principle was one of attitude, we see here the action to match the attitude.  If you tell me you want to draw near to God, but you don’t want to read His Word, then we have a mismatch.

 

Some interpreters view the words “our bodies washed with pure water” as a reference to baptism, but most see that view as incorrect because baptism is not a washing away of sin, but rather a symbol of identification, a public testimony of what has occurred in the heart.

 

The phrase “washed with pure water” means that God’s Word is the means of being washed, and that we are kept clean by our constant “bathing” in His Word.

 

Ephesians 5:25-26 (ESV Strong’s)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

 

The final step, the practical outworking and expression of the other steps, is to constantly immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Read it daily, study it, memorise it, obey it, and live it!

 

2019 has been a tough year for most of us, and even for this church. We’ve tried to buy property, sell property, cope with the numbers, and nothing seems to have worked. That’s why we are staying here, modifying this property, and going back to a single morning service.

 

But my greatest regret and failure as a leader is that I did not implore you to read your Bible enough this year. That’s why I’ve just put the Bible reading plan on the church app. With 3 touches you can be in today’s reading, and with 4 you can have it read to you, for those who cannot or won’t read.

 

IT’S TIME TO DRAW NEAR

 

I’m so serious about us desiring God’s Word, because without that desire we cannot draw near to God.

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

 

Drawing near to God involves a true heart, complete confidence, holiness and constant washing in the purity of His Word. And it all starts right now. Right now we can decide to bow the knee and draw near to God, or not. In the business of this time, I’m choosing to draw near, and I’m asking you to do the same. You will never know God’s destiny for your life until you decide you want Him badly enough to draw near to Him.

 

It’s like 2 magnets, coming closer together, when the magnetic field takes over and draws you in.

 

So, in the busyness of this time of year, I’m asking you to draw near with me…

 

James 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

 

True Peace on Earth

Where do you find true peace at Christmas? The silly season is in full swing isn’t it? I always find the lead up to Christmas one of the most exhausting, stressful and overwhelming times of the year. School is wrapping up, shops are ramping up and I’m barely holding up under the incessant pressure. Our time is stretched, our budgets are stretched and our patience is stretched to the limit, and there’s still 31 sleeps till Christmas.

That’s 744 hours, 44,640 minutes or 2,678,400 seconds, don’t get stressed! And in the middle of this silly season where we rush too much, we spend too much and we eat too much, you can buy a Christmas card that says, “Peace on earth.” Is that some kind of sad joke? I find it hard to get 2 minutes peace, let alone experiencing peace on earth.

We live in a world crying out for peace, yet unable to attain it, even at Christmas.

 

Luke 2:9-14 (ESV Strong’s)

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

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

 

TRUE PEACE ON EARTH?

 

Peace on earth? According to the NY Times, in the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. In the US, they have had only 17 years of peace in their history, meaning 93% of the time it has existed the US has been at war.

 

Peace is something often spoken of but rarely if ever achieved.  The peace we wish for one another at Christmas is almost entirely absent from human history. Thus phrase “Peace on earth” bears looking at. Let’s look at the text.

 

GLORY TO GOD

 

Luke 2:14 starts with the phrase, glory to God in the highest, and this is the first step towards peace… Give glory to God! The Greek word for glory is doxa, which means to give dignity, honour, glory or praise that is due. It means to hold in high praise or estimation of, and this is where so many today go wrong.

 

You can have pesos, prestige, power, possessions, but no peace, because you didn’t start with the Prince of peace! If you want peace in your life this Christmas, you need to start by putting God in His rightful place.

 

God created the universe, the stars, the galaxies and this planet, and He created you. He has a plan and a destiny for your life, and He opened the way for you to be reconciled to Him, but the last thing the world wants for you this Christmas is to put God in the place He deserves and give Him the glory and honour that is due to Him.

 

PEACE AMONG THOSE WITH WHOM HE IS PLEASED

 

The Bible never promised peace on earth to all men. We conveniently overlook the end phrase, among those with whom He is pleased. And who is He well pleased with? Those who trust Him, that’s who!

 

This Christmas more than ever we need to totally yield our lives to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, because then, and only then, will we know true peace.

 

PEACE IN OUR TIME

 

In 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was much celebrated for brokering a peace agreement with Adolf Hitler, appeasing the dictator by giving in to his territorial demands. He produced a signed agreement, called it peace in our time, but while the world celebrated his effort, this same Adolf Hitler shortly after plunged the world into its darkest and most evil conflict ever.

 

Mankind speaks much about peace, governments claim they will bring it, people wish it for each other, but none of them can produce it! It’s even an integral part of many languages… Jews greet one another with the word “shalom”, Arabs with “Salam” and in Malaysia they say “Salamat”. These phrases mean peace be with you, but it never happens.

 

Perhaps the greatest paradox of all in the 21st century is that a religion calling itself peace is responsible for almost all of the 828 armed conflicts currently raging in 69 countries around the world. I could call myself His royal highness the king of Nambour, but the reality doesn’t match the words.  Don’t be fooled by the media, Islam has nothing to do with peace in our modern world.

 

But true peace actually transcends circumstances. If your peace is dependent on you having money, or success, or anything else, it in not true peace, it’s a fragile substitute. True peace should be independent of whatever is happening around you, because it is deep within you, if you are among those with whom God is pleased.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

 

THE MISSING TRUE PEACE OF THE PUZZLE

 

The missing piece in true, lasting peace is the presence of God. Isaiah says

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

The  Hebrew word for peace is of course shalom, which means peace, prosperity, security, completeness, soundness, health, tranquillity. The Hebrew word for stayed is samak, and it means to lean upon. So Isaiah is telling us that this Christmas, peace is not about gifts or family or pudding, it is about leaning on the very presence fo God. That’s why Jesus could say,

John 16:33 (ESV Strong’s)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

TRUE PEACE

 

What is this true peace? It is an inner sense of contentment and quietness, regardless of life’s circumstances. It is steadfast confidence in our ever-faithful, immutable heavenly Father. It is the presence of faith in the midst of faithlessness, a smile in the midst of pain, and joy in the midst of unhappiness.

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong’s)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

 

True peace does not merely dull our pain. A person who has genuine, godly peace can endure an avalanche of hardship and difficulty and still enjoy an inner peace that surpasses all human understanding. When we pray with Paul,

Philippians 4:7 (ESV Strong’s)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Why is this true peace so powerful? Because this peace does not come from pleasant circumstances, nice events, or good things others may do for us. Instead, it is based on the fact that the Spirit of our holy, omnipotent, and never-changing God lives within us.

 

Does enjoying God’s perfect peace mean that you’ll never feel the effects of the storms raging around you? Hardly. But His peace is complete, adequate, and sufficient for anything you face.

 

Lets look at three keys to experiencing sustained, true peace in your life:

 

1.      FOCUS ON GOD

 

Perfect peace comes when you fix your mind on God, or as we saw before, lean on Him. You must discipline yourself to concentrate on or meditate on God’s presence and work in your life, not the problems you face. When you spend time concentrating on a problem, doesn’t it seem to grow bigger? In the same way, you will have a bigger sense of God’s presence and provision as you fix your mind on Him.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV Strong’s)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

 

The Greek word for looking to Jesus is aphoreo, which means to turn your eyes away from other things and fix them, focus them on one thing… Jesus. And when we turnout eyes upon Jesus, when we look full in His wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and Grace.

 

DEMONSTRATION

 

2.      TRUST IN GOD

 

You never have to worry about God acting too late or providing insufficient help. His timing and purposes are perfect; In fact, He uses your tribulations to reveal more of Himself to you.

 

Can you trust Him, no matter how hard it is, however huge the mountain you seem to face right now, can you trust Him to come through?

 

I remember facing a vicious and very public attack from another person. A letter, full of lies and venom had been sent about me, and forwarded to me. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t even accurate, but I was angry, deeply distressed and fearful. But I faced a choice…

 

I couldn’t reply, I couldn’t defend myself without looking guilty, I just had to keep quiet and trust God. I remember laying the letter out before the Lord  one night, (like Hezekiah did) praying over it and giving it totally to God. And over time He vindicated me. I had no choice, I couldn’t fix it, or control what people thought, I just had to trust God, but He is faithful!

 

His Word is full of rock-solid promises, many of which involve granting you peace in the midst of trials. Know that He will always honor His promises!

 

Romans 15:13 (NIV-WS)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

3.      HIDE GOD’S WORD IN YOUR HEART

 

New Age gurus will tell you that peace comes from meditating, and I have to admit, they’re onto something.

 

Thinking about, dwelling on, chewing over truths can drive them deep into your spirit, but while New Agers are contemplating their naval or a single syllable, we have the greatest tool of all upon which to meditate…the Word of God!

 

Psalms 119:165 (ESV Strong’s)

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

 

So, if you’re in a fix, remember Philippians 4:6, and 7.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

The Greek for the word for surpasses is hyperecho, which means to transcend, to be superior to, to rise up and overcome all understanding or knowledge.

 

All the knowledge in the world can’t give you true inner peace this Christmas. All the wisdom of the ages, all governments, all media, all presents or family times cannot help you find peace. You don’t need more Christmas hype, you need hyperecho, you need the peace that transcends all understanding, and you can only find this peace in Jesus Christ!

 

WE WILL HAVE TRUE PEACE ONE DAY

 

And this same Jesus is coming again! But He’s not coming as a baby in a manger this time, He’s coming back for His beloved people as a king, as he King of kings and Lord of Lords, and when He come He will usher in 1,000 years of incredible peace such as the world has never known…

 

You can learn more about this in Revelation 20 and Isaiah 65. At that time men will be at peace and dwell together in harmony, the Wolf and the lamb will graze together, and God will be near to His people…

 

Isaiah 65:24 (ESV Strong’s)

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.

 

(Isaiah 9:6)

 

But God us with us now, we don’t have to wait until He returns!

 

This world is crying out for peace, but it will never know peace until it knows the prince of peace … and neither will you!

 

ACCEPT THE PRINCE OF PEACE

 

In the hustle and bustle and insane pressure at the end of the year, the enemy wants to bring up your past, he wants to fill you with fear for the future, he wants to see you in conflict with people around you this Christmas… in short, he wants you to never truly know peace.

 

Some of you here are lonely, some are stressed, some of you are angry at your family, some are facing Christmas not with joy but with dread. It’s because you lack true peace, because remember peace can be in your life and your heart, no matter what others are saying or doing, and no matter what pressure you face.

 

Romans 5:1 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

We can have peace with God and in our lives. It’s not about your situation, it’s not about your circumstances, it’s about your heart. So, as we face this Christmas silly season, if you are stressed right now, I want to ask you to open your heart to the Holy Spirit right now.

 

No Jesus, No Peace… Know Jesus, Know Peace

 

You can know peace by allowing the peace of God to flood your soul in the person of the Holy Spirit.

 

In the OT, the shekinah glory of God was seen as a cloud  filling the temple, as a pillar of fire, in a vision of a prophecy, but today you can have the glory of God manifest in your life all the time because the Holy Spirit, the presence of God lives in you.

 

Dr Bill Newman- The Final Exam

Join us for a super message from Dr Bill Newman, evangelist and teacher, as he brings to us an exciting message about our final exam.

The Final Exam is Not Far Away says Bill Newman!


The final examination we face as believers is not far away, and we have the opportunity to produce the right results, or completely drop the ball in our relationship with the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure that, when the Lord comes again, or if I go to meet Him earlier, that I will be able to see His beautiful face with confidence of knowing that

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

 

 

A heart after God is what God is looking for.  We’ve been talking about glass ceilings, these limits that appear in our lives that stop us from becoming who God wants us to be. I wanted to contrast Saul and David, 2 kings who had ceilings, but very different outcomes.

We’ve been talking about glass ceilings, these limits that appear in our lives that stop us from becoming who God wants us to be. I wanted to contrast Saul and David, 2 kings who had ceilings, but very different outcomes, 2 different men, one with a heart after God.

 

So we’ve looked at Saul’s glass ceilings, things like fear, impatience and jealousy, and Saul showed many more ceilings, things like deceit and anger. These placed limits on his potential and the tall, good looking, charismatic King Saul lost both his throne and his life because of these glass ceilings.

 

To wrap up this series, I want to focus on David. He too faced glass ceilings, but he was dealin’ with the ceilin’  differently!

 

CEILINGS DAVID PUNCHED THROUGH

 

Facing Goliath, Saul and the army quivered in fear…

 

1 Samuel 17:11 (ESV Strong’s)

When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

 

But David, faced with the same situation, punched through this ceiling, because he has a heart after God

 

1 Samuel 17:36 (ESV Strong’s)

Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

 

He drew on past victories, he drew on a deep faith in the God he knew intimately and trusted completely to overcome the fear and gain victory!

 

Saul got impatient and offered an unlawful sacrifice in 1 Samuel 13, but many times in Scripture it says this of David…

 

1 Samuel 30:8 (ESV Strong’s)

And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?”

 

David made better decisions than Saul because he had a different heart.

 

GLASS CEILINGS THAT LIMITED DAVID

 

He had a heart after God but he still had glass ceilings in his life. He still had major character flaws that limited his potential. We all do of course, but David’s flaws were spectacular!

 

Sexual sin proved to be a glass ceiling for David for quite a while, And was very nearly his downfall. Then he arranged for the murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to cover it over and legitimise it…

 

2 Samuel 11:27 (ESV Strong’s)

And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

 

How many men are undone by sexual sin? David tried to legitimise his sin, explain it away, but let’s not make the same mistake today. With over 35% of all data transferred on the internet related to porn, with Porn sites receiving more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, & Twitter combined each month, men, we need to say no! This is a ceiling in many people’s lives today! You might feel the temptation, but rather than letting it become a glass ceiling in your life, you need to be the one who says NO!

 

David also had a glass ceiling in his parenting. He was a great king and a lousy parent, with his kids raping, murdering and trying to usurp his throne.

 

Yet even with these and other  spectacular glass ceilings limiting aspects of his life, most of them being “worse” in our eyes than Saul’s ceilings and sins, things panned out differently for David. I want to discover why!

 

A HEART AFTER GOD

So Saul never broke through the glass ceilings in his life, yet David, whose sins and ceilings seemed to us a lot more difficult, overcame them. Offering an incorrect sacrifice doesn’t seem on the scale of adultery or murder, but David found a way through where Saul did not. What made the difference?

 

There are 2 main differences, and the first can be seen in their responses.

 

SAUL’S RESPONSE

 

When confront with his sin, Saul responded with excuses and blame shifting, as most people do today in our society. It’s never my fault, it’s my upbringing, my parents, never my mistakes.

 

It’s like Charles and Purnella Bull of Minnesota, caught stealing TV’S and computers who claimed a friend told them it was all free. Or a guy who was clocked speeding at 103 miles per hour, and he claimed he’s dyslexic and thought is was 031 mph. Or the nan who sued his neighbour fir driving over both of his hands… He was stealing his neighbour’s hubcaps at the time.

 

This is what happened with Saul…

 

1 Samuel 15:19-22 (ESV Strong’s)

Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

and to listen than the fat of rams.

 

God makes it clear, He wants obedience, he wants repentance, not excuses, not blaming others, and not an argument as to why you did it and your motives. Just repent, and be obedient, because obedience is worth more than religious acts or excuses!

 

DAVID’S RESPONSE

 

David too faced a stern rebuke by the prophet Nathan after he had sinned with Bathsheba. But he handled it completely differently, because he had a heart after God…

 

2 Samuel 12:7 (ESV Strong’s)

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.

 

2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV Strong’s)

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

 

David didn’t make excuses, didn’t blame his upbringing or drugs or parents or church or school or dyslexia, he just said, yes, Lord, You’re right, I’m wrong, I repent! He had a heart after God.

 

And that right there melts God’s heart. People are always running around, trying to get God to give them what they want, and the answer is right there!

 

Repent and be obedient, do whatever it takes to be close to the Lord, and repentance, being truly sorry and acting on it (the important bit), is what opens incredible favour with God.

 

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

 

When Samuel was searching for the future king, he had it narrowed down to a single family. He saw a likely candidate in one son,

 

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV Strong’s)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

 

When God looked at Saul and David, what did He see? When He looks at your heart, what does He see?

 

SAUL’S HEART

 

Saul’s heart was shown to be fearful and self centred early on, but God gave Him chance after chance…

 

1 Samuel 10:9 (ESV Strong’s)

When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

 

Even later in his reign, Samuel encouraged him, with these words…

 

1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV Strong’s)

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

 

Saul had a chance, he had more than a fair go, but time and again he acted impulsively, selfishly, disobediently and he hit the glass ceiling of fear…

 

DAVID’S HEART AFTER GOD

 

When Saul proves his heart to be faithless, Samuel told Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to another…

 

1 Samuel 13:14 (ESV Strong’s)

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

 

David was described as a man after God’s own heart… He had a heart after God. The apostle Paul, who ironically was called Saul previously, used the same phrase for David,

 

Acts 13:22 (ESV Strong’s)

he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’

 

The last phrase is the key… Who will do ALL my will.  A man after my own heart for God is someone intent on doing all the will of God. Will he be perfect? Nope. Will he ever sin? Sure to. God’s not looking for perfection, or religious observance, or people trying to manipulate a blessing out of Him, He is looking for a man or woman whose heart fully belongs to Him! Who has a heart after God.

 

BUT WHAT IF I’VE …

 

The incredible thing to me is that, despite what David did and the spectacular sins he displayed, God’s favour was there for him all of his life. And the reason is that David was a man after God’s own heart… It all came down to his heart, and he had a heart after God.

 

What’s your past like? Have you got sins that the devil keeps throwing in front of you? Have you sought God, repented of your sin and known His forgiveness? Some of you here may have sinned as spectacularly as David, but David repented and truly knew the forgiveness of God, and you can too. Maybe some of you have been forgiven by God but you need to forgive yourself.

 

1 John 1:9 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Psalms 103:12 (ESV Strong’s)

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

 

Whatever sin you’ve committed in your past does not disqualify you from dedicating your life to serving Him now, and being used by God to impact your world, if you have a heart after God. Nothing in your past, not divorce, not an affair, not an abortion, not stealing, lying, anger, faithlessness, nothing disqualifies you from recommitting you’re life right now, and starting afresh!

 

IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOUR RESPONSE

 

Throughout his life David wasn’t perfect. He sinned and repented time and again. But he sought God, worshipped God, honoured and obeyed God. He lived his life for God, he asked God for guidance and he wrote Psalms about this same God, because he had a close and intimate relationship with God.

 

David committed incredible and devastating sins, ones that today’s church would write him off for, but because of his heart, God forgave and restored him… He had a heart after God.

 

And this same God is looked for such a man or woman right now, someone with a heart after God. Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve been in the past, you are not lost, you are not written off, God has a plan for you, and this same God is searching for those after His own heart.

 

2 Chronicles 16:9 (ESV Strong’s)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

 

WILL YOU BE THE ONE?

 

Are you this person? Are you the one fully committed and blameless before Him? Right now, centuries later, God is still looking for a man or a woman after His own heart.

 

150 years ago evangelist DL Moody was challenged about his relationship with God, and he famously said…

 

The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

— D.L. Moody

 

I aim to be that man for mygeneration!  And I’m asking you to join with me.

 

In every generation it falls to some people, a man or a woman after God’s own heart, to rise up and proclaim the gospel to a sick, twisted and dying world. You can be that person. And we can help you do it!

 

The people you meet, the family, the workmates, the ones you pass in the shopping centre. We call them non Christians, unbelievers or the unchurched, but they are lost, destined to a eternity in hell, separated from God, from love, from life. And God is still looking for those fully committed, ready to pay any price to stand for Christ and reach out to their community.

 

This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls right across the world, and today I’m asking you to join with me and be that one, the man or woman after God’s own heart.

 

And it all starts now. I’m ready to dedicate my life to Jesus afresh. To be that man after God’s own heart, to have a heart after God. To be the man fully consecrated to Him. My question is, are you?

 

Will you stand with me and commit yourself to whatever God leads you to be to serve Him, to commit to being a man or woman after God’s own heart, at any price. Ignite is a church that wants to win souls and wants to impact our community. Will you join us?  Do you have a heart after God.

 

You can pursue many good things in life, career, family, wealth, but let commit to a higher calling, and let us pursue God and His will first… Let’s commit to a heart after God!

 

The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

We’ve been looking at Kings Saul and David and examining the glass ceilings they had in their lives, particularly Saul. We have looked at fear, which is probably the biggest ceiling of all, and also impatience, one that’s particularly big for me. Today I want to talk about a ceiling most of us rarely discuss, but one that was huge in Saul’s life, and if we are honest, is pretty big in our lives at times… The glass ceiling of jealousy.

Jealousy is a glass ceiling that drives fear, drives separation and causes pain, both for the one who is jealous and the one over whom words of jealousy are spoken.

SAUL’S CEILING

 

1 Samuel 18:6-12 (ESV Strong’s)

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,

and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on.

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.

 

Jealousy consumed Saul to the point where it opened the door for an evil spirit to enter his life. Jealousy is subtle, often clothed in things like criticism or gossip, and unbelievably destructive!

 

Saul was king, he had everything you could want, but he was terribly envious of David, he knew the Lord was taking the kingdom from him, and giving it to David, so this jealousy allowed Satan access to him. Jealousy both hurt Saul and David.

 

JEALOUSY AND ENVY

 

We recently had a conference, and I have jokingly suggested that I experience toilet envy, because they have cubicles, urinals, hot water and even showers, where we have 2 x 100 year old toilets. I experienced car park envy, because they have a nice big one and we have Max playing car tetris. My latest is foyer envy, because their foyer is larger than our auditorium!

 

We can joke about it, but behind the joke is a little stab of envy, wishing we had what others appear to have. Solomon said,

 

Ecclesiastes 4:4 (ESV Strong’s)

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Jealousy is  futile, vanity and a destructive emotion.

 

WHAT ARE WE JEALOUS ABOUT?

 

Jealousy can be a good thing. God is described as a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24), loving us so much He refuses to let us go.  We can also be jealous for Him, as Elijah said,

 

1 Kings 19:14 (ESV Strong’s)

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts.

 

But mostly in our modern society we are jealous not about God, but about lots of other things, most of which are temporal and do not matter in the long run. We are jealous about cars, houses, boats, rewards, honour or promotions. Jealousy is everywhere, and we’d be lying if we said we never felt it.

 

Most of us feel it, recognise it as a sin, repent and move on, but sometimes we feel justified hanging on to it, even though it leads to bitterness and destruction.

 

So what kind of things can we be jealous of?

 

1.      THE POSSESSIONS OF OTHERS

 

It’s easy to envy other people’s stuff, because the world tells us that success is measured by stuff. I saw a sticker once saying, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” That’s ridiculously far from the truth!

 

Possessions tend to come with strings attached. I’ve known some very rich but very miserable people.  They have a lot, but really they have very little. Like the rich young ruler…

 

Matthew 19:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)

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 have possessions, his possessions had him. We get envious over things that ultimately are not important. We forget the 10 commandments,

 

Exodus 20:17 (ESV Strong’s)

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

 

2.      THE POSITION OF OTHERS

 

We often envy the position others find themselves in, especially  if they are in leadership. We envy the respect, the trimmings, the honour, the favour they seem to get,  but we have no idea of the pressures they face.  Joseph’s brothers were insanely jealous

 

Genesis 37:4 (ESV Strong’s)

But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

 

Even to the point of doing away with him. Families can be like that!

 

3.      THE PRAISES OF SUCCESS OF OTHERS

 

When someone gets a reward we thought we should get, acknowledgement, praise, promotion, we can get jealous.

 

1 Samuel 18:8 (ESV Strong’s)

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”

 

Saul was jealous of David because people praised him more. They still praised Saul, but he couldn’t focus on that because he was second, and to many people today coming second is just being the first loser!

 

ULTIMATELY, JEALOUSY IS ALL ABOUT YOU

 

Jealousy is never about someone else, it’s always about you.

 

James 4:2-3 (ESV Strong’s)

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

 

James pulls no punches, and he’s writing to Christians! 9 times in 2 verses he uses you of your. Dress up your jealousy as you like, frame it in neat, religious, pious language, ultimately it’s still all about you!

 

And because it’s so self centred, it robs you of your joy. Jealousy causes misery, mostly in the one who is jealous. Look at Saul, how happy was he, hurling spears at people or alienating his own children, all because of jealousy of David. How about Joseph’s brothers? Or Cain, whose jealousy drove him to murder his brother.

 

Jealousy is a poison that infects your life and then slowly but surely destroys you,

 

Job 5:2 (ESV Strong’s)

Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.

 

WATCH OUT FOR SECONDARY INFECTIONS OF JEALOUSY

 

Jealousy is often the primary infection, but it strips away your spiritual protection from the evil one and exposes you to secondary infections which are even more destructive.

 

Years ago we talked about AIDS killing people, but AIDS didn’t actually kill. The virus lowered immunity, and then the host was killed by something as common as a flu or pneumonia. Jealousy is like that, it removes your spiritual immunity and gives rise to secondaries like…

 

1.      FEAR

 

Saul saw his huge glass ceiling of fear fed by the glass ceiling of jealousy, which he never broke through…

 

1 Samuel 18:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him.

 

If you compare yourself, if you are jealous of someone else’s success, you place undue weight upon your own back, with the fear that you will never reach up to their level.

 

2.      BITTERNESS

 

Jealousy, if you hang on to it, will lead to bitterness, and bitterness is a secondary that will destroy you.

 

Hebrews 12:15 (ESV Strong’s)

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

 

So not only is jealousy a glass ceiling, stopping you from becoming who you are destined to be, but it is also a root that digs in and infects your whole being. Trying pulling out a plant who has roots entwined around a pipe or something else, is a big task.

 

3.      JEALOUSY CAUSES SEPARATION

 

Jealousy drives people away from you. It separates friends, blows apart churches, ruins families and destroys everything in its path. Look at Saul,

 

1 Samuel 20:30 (ESV Strong’s)

Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?

 

Jealousy is particularly strong in families, such as with Cain and Abel.

 

4.      JEALOUSY IS CONSUMING

 

Jealousy and envy turn to bitterness and consume you, like a wasting disease, and the Bible describes it as like rotting bones.

 

Proverbs 14:30 (ESV Strong’s)

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

 

5.      JEALOUSY CAUSES DEATH

 

Jealousy, if left to run is course, will lead to death. Make no mistake, jealousy is not just a ceiling, it’s a death sentence!

 

Song of Songs 8:6 (ESV Strong’s)

for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.

 

It was for Saul, and it will be for you if you don’t deal with it.

 

SMASHING THROUGH BOTH SIDES OF JEALOUSY

 

Jealousy has been around since time began, since Cain and Abel, so we all feel it. The flu virus is around everywhere too, but some get infected while others don’t. Some fight it off naturally, but others need a vaccine.

 

The vaccine for jealousy, the drug that removes this ceiling from your life, comes in 4 parts.

 

1.      STOP COMPARING

 

Comparisons are almost always wrong. Compare yourself with someone lesser and it fuels your pride. Compare yourself with someone superior and it fuels inferiority. No one wins in comparisons.

 

Especially in a family. One of the most hurtful things a parent can say to a child is, “Why aren’t you like your brother or sister.” If this has happened to you, it’s hurtful, but today is the day you forgive and quash sibling jealousy forever.

 

Galatians 6:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.

 

The first step in breaking through this glass ceiling is to stop comparing yourself to others, especially when it come to serving the Lord.

 

2.      BE CONTENT

 

If you have a contented spirit, you will tend not to be jealous of anyone. Paul discovered this,

 

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV Strong’s)

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

If you are content in Him, jealousy is a non event, and you are inoculated from the poison of jealousy…

 

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV Strong’s)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

3.      CELEBRATE OTHERS

 

In church, we say we love others and put them first, but it’s about time we started living it. Can you be genuinely happy for someone who has success… I mean genuinely?

 

It’s like the academy awards, and the forced cheesy smiles of the runners up!  Even in the church it can be like this, but Paul says…

 

Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Aussies are particularly bad at this. We don’t put others first, and the Tall Poppy syndrome ensures that we are quick to criticise and slow to build up. As believers, we should be speaking words of encouragement to one another, not criticism, and especially when it’s motivated by jealousy…

 

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

We are so quick to cut down those who have success, and the basis of this is jealousy. We should be better than that, and speak life and words of encouragement, especially here in church.

 

4.      SEEK GOD’S APPROVAL, NOT MAN’S

 

The final step is at the core of the glass ceiling of jealousy… are we seeking man’s approval, or God’s. Saul was constantly seeking man’s approval, and fear of what people thought of him was the glass ceiling that eventually ruined his destiny. But Paul said,

 

Galatians 1:10 (ESV Strong’s)

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

 

SET FREE FROM WORDS SPOKEN OVER YOU

 

I asked God where I should go with this message, and I believe His Anointing is here this morning to break the power of negative and jealous words spoken over you in the past.

 

Many of us have know the destructive power of words spoken over our lives, much of it stemming from jealousy. Sometimes words were spoken that made you jealous, but often someone else was jealous of you and their words of jealousy were designed to bring you down a peg or two, much like Saul’s jealousy tried to destroy David. Many of us carry scars caused by someone else’s tongue,

 

James 3:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

 

Today I want to heal those hurts, and some of you have had words spoken over you years ago that still keep you in bondage today.

 

Many years ago I was up for credentialing as a pastor, but was told by a particular pastor who stopped me at the last hurdle that I would never be a pastor, and could never be a leader. I was devastated, but kept serving and ministering as I had opportunity. But those words (based on jealousy) haunted me for more than a decade… You’ll never be a leader or pastor.

 

Years later when God asked me to step into this position, someone else attacked me, saying I’ll never be a pastor, I’ll never be a leader.  Words, based on someone else’s jealousy and insecurity still had power, still resonated in my ears. I had to give those words to God, and allow Him to destroy their effect on my life, and that’s why I stand here today, because by the power of God I am called, and chosen and those words have no power over me any more.

 

What negative words have been spoken over you in the past? Jealous words can kill both the jealous person and the one they are jealous of. We Aussies are good at cutting others down to size with our words, but we Christians should never be like that!

 

Today I want to break the power of those words.

 

Isaiah 54:17 (ESV Strong’s)

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.”

Glass Ceilings 3- Impatience

Impatience is the next glass ceiling we place in our lives. These are the limits we bounce off every time, flaws in character and belief that place a glass ceiling in our lives preventing us from reaching our full potential in Christ.

Today I want to look at Kings Saul and Davis again, and at the ceiling of impatience. I don’t know about you, but I really need to hear this because this is a ceiling I hit time and time again!

 

GIVE ME PATIENCE, LORD… IMMEDIATELY!

 

A young girl was praying with her mum, and she asked for a new doll. When the prayer finished, she demanded to know where the doll was. Her mum told her that God sometimes takes time to answer us, and that she should be patient, but the girl answered, “Great, I’ve been praying to an answering machine!”

 

And some of us feel like that. We feel like God doesn’t answer because He is not listening. For many of us, He has great things planned for us, a great destiny into which we should walk, but we get impatient! He hears, He is lining things up, He is preparing the way for us, but we get impatient and act on our own instead of waiting for and trusting in Him.

 

This was a huge glass ceiling for King Saul. Here’s an example… Saul faced the Philistines, and Samuel told Saul to wait until he came and offered sacrifice.

 

1 Samuel 13:8-9 (ESV Strong’s)

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.

 

Saul knew he had to wait, but once again fear rose up and he bounced up against this glass ceiling of impatience. Samuel then arrived and asked, “What have you done?”

 

1 Samuel 13:12-14 (ESV Strong’s)

I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

 

Impatience cost Saul his destiny, and it will cost us if we are not open to God!

 

I WANT MY MARSHMALLOW NOW!

 

Stanford University conducted a famous psychological experiment in 1972 on preschool children, where they were given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it now, but if they waited and didn’t eat it for a time, they would get 2 marshmallows. It’s called delayed gratification.

 

Many kids were impatient, taking the here and now over the promise of greater things to come, but a few waited. Then researchers tracked these children over decades, and found those who could wait scored higher academically, we’re less prone to obesity and poor heath and generally achieved more in life.

 

THE FRUIT OF IMPATIENCE

 

Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of WAIT. As we learn to be patient and wait on the Lord, we can actually be renewed, strengthened and grow in wisdom and spiritual maturity.

 

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV Strong’s)

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

Patience is listed in Galatians 5 as a fruit of the Spirit, which makes impatience a fruit of the flesh. And the fruit of impatience can debilitated our lives and rob us of our destiny…

 

1.     IMPATIENCE IS SELFISH

 

At its root, impatience is selfishness. It’s all about us! We are impatient with other drivers because they are in our way, especially when we are late. We are impatient with friends and family because they’re not keeping to our time frame.

 

Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

We live in the most impatient time in history. Today, if it doesn’t happen fast enough we move on, and according to Time Magazine, the average attention span of a person is eight seconds, compared to a goldfish at 9 seconds!  We have microwave meals, instant downloads and instant coffee. We have fast cars, fast food and fast morals. I heard about a microwave TV, where you can watch 60 minutes in just 3 minutes.

 

And, in the age of the selfie, our fast paced life is centred on us, and what we want!  Never before have so many photos been taken of so many people doing so little! Impatience is selfishness, not wanting to wait for what I want, and it is not looking to the interests of anyone else except you.

 

2.     IMPATIENCE CAUSES ANXIETY

 

You’re in the check out line, there are people everywhere and the store has 2 lines open. And yours is the longest, with a checkout person moving at glacial speed. This is where you’ll feel impatience causing anxiety.

 

Proverbs 12:25 (ESV Strong’s)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

 

Impatience increases blood pressure, brings about release of stress-related hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, etc, increases risk of heart disease and causes many more effects. Eventually weight gain, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, and often early death. Impatience weighs you down with anxiety and stress, but the Bible says,

 

Psalms 37:7-8 (ESV Strong’s)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

 

The Hebrew for “fret” means heat, to burn, and when we are impatient you can feel that heat rising, can’t you! Surely we have enough stress in life from without that we don’t need to pile more stress upon ourselves from within by virtue of impatience!

 

3.     IMPATIENCE CAUSES DISBELIEF

 

Impatience robs us of the results we want, we start to lose belief if what we are trusting for seems delayed.

 

Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV Strong’s)

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it  hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

 

The more impatient we get with God, the more we will lose what He has for us, because impatience is actually disbelief. I place a seed in the ground, and I have to be patient. If I keep digging it up to check on it, I won’t see the fruit I desire. James says this…

 

James 5:7-8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Impatience robs us of our belief, and belief is faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

 

4.     IMPATIENCE CAUSES DISUNITY

 

Ephesians 4:2-3 (ESV Strong’s)

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

When you get impatient, others pick up on it, and trust me, they are not drawn closer. In fact, they are often turned off and driven away by your impatience, and disunity results.

 

5.     IMPATIENCE CAUSES IMPETUOSITY

 

Proverbs 14:29 (ESV Strong’s)

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

 

Like Saul, we might see a need, hold a promise or sense an opportunity, but rather than waiting and being directed by God, we jump in an do God’s job for Him. It’s like when you ask your spouse to do something for you, and they say, “In a minute,” and you wait and wait, then decide to get it yourself!

 

Saul stepped illegally into the role of priest and offered sacrifices, because of impatience.

 

6.     IMPATIENCE CAUSES LOSS

 

Ultimately, impatience causes loss. Saul lost trying to hasten things. David saw victories because he stopped, asked God and waited on Him.

 

Proverbs 19:2 (ESV Strong’s)

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

 

Hebrews 10:36 (ESV Strong’s)

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

 

HOW TO SMASH THE GLASS CEILING OF IMPATIENCE

 

This is a ceiling many of us bounce off time and time again, and I’m sick of doing that. So let me outline steps we can take to smash through this glass ceiling of impatience and start to move higher into our calling in God.

 

1.     CONSCIOUSLY SLOW DOWN

 

We live in a fast paced world, and even in our leisure time we are bombarded by ads, social media and pressure. It is time that we consciously disconnect for a time, put our lives on flight mode, and allow peace and tranquillity to settle on our hearts, not anxiousness and stress.

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

The first step in removing the ceiling of impatience is to slow down, find some peaceful moments in your day, disconnect from the rigours of life and put your life into flight mode.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:6 (ESV Strong’s)

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

 

Grab a handful of quietness today.

 

2.     STEP BACK AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE

 

Much of our impatience comes from our inability to see the big picture. We see only our small portion, but God sees everything.

 

In the civil war, President Lincoln used telegraph to piece together information from across the entire front. General McClellan refused to obey his commander and made localised decisions based on what he could see, so President Lincoln dismissed him in 1862. The President saw the big picture, and could make far more strategic decisions than any local commander.

 

Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV Strong’s)

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

 

3.     FIGHT THE NEED TO SOLVE GOD’S PROBLEM

 

He is God, you  are not, He sees all, you  see only your small bit, so you need to fight the urge to step in and take control of things yourself.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)

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

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

 

I know it is tempting to step in and solve God’s problems, but this is impatience, and it is sin. Saul did it and lost the kingdom,

 

4.     DEVELOP A GRATITUDE ATTITUDE

 

The greatest sin of the Western world is an ungrateful spirit, and this manifests itself as impatience. We don’t usually count our blessings, we are just impatient for more blessings!

 

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

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

 

What does the Bible say?

 

Psalms 118:24 (ESV Strong’s)

This is the day that the Lord has made;  let us (be impatient) rejoice and (demand more) be glad in it.

 

If you develop a gratitude attitude, you instantly weaken the ceiling of impatience. If you become truly grateful, you can smash that thing out of the park!

 

5.     CHOOSE TO TRUST GOD, NOT MAN

 

Like all of these ceilings, you face a choice today. You can let yourself be impatient, or you can choose to trust God and wait for Him to open the way.

 

Psalms 27:14 (ESV Strong’s)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

It takes strength to be patient, it takes heart to wait for God, but if you truly trust Him, you will see incredible miracles. Wait doesn’t mean be idle, it means keep doing what you’re doing with an expectant heart. It means laying aside you agenda, your desires, your impetuosity and saying, not my will but Yours be done.

 

SMASHING THE CEILING OF IMPATIENCE

 

Some of you have waited a long time for a promise of God. It might be for a loved one to come to Christ, it might be for an opportunity at work or in church, it might be for a physical thing like a car or house, or maybe the right partner to marry.

 

Psalms 130:5 (ESV Strong’s)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

 

Some of you feel like your soul has been waiting and groaning, and like you’re losing hope and becoming more impatient.  Today I’m going to ask you what it is that you’ve asked God for that seems to be tarrying?

 

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)

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.

 

The hammer with which you can smash the glass ceiling of impatience is seeking and trusting God. I know it’s hard, I’m impatient too, and I want everything right now. I want a new building for the church, and it’s taken way longer than I planned, but I trust God that He has he situation well in hand, and He may very well open up something I would never have considered.  But let this encourage you…

 

Lamentations 3:24-25 (ESV Strong’s)

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

 

So, whatever it is you are waiting for, today we are going to give it to God, tell Him we trust Him, and refuse to become  impatient.

 

Micah 7:7 (ESV Strong’s)

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

 

Glass Ceilings 2- Fear

Fear is the next glass ceiling to talk about. I spoke last week about the glass ceilings we face in our lives, and how we are the ones who placed them there, usually as a result of the influence of others. God doesn’t place these limits on our lives, we do, but He has plans and hopes and dreams for our future far beyond anything we could even imagine!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong’s)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

We will hit glass ceilings every time unless we commit our lives to the Lord and let Him control and direct us.

 

Today, I want to compare and contrast 2 kings of Israel, King Saul and his successor, King David.

 

A TALE OF 2 KINGS…AND FEAR

 

Saul and David were in their time both anointed of God, and both appointed king. Both attractive, both charismatic, and Saul was probably the pick…

 

1 Samuel 9:2 (ESV Strong’s)

Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

 

Why did Saul fail as Israel’s king, while David succeeded? It all has to do with the glass ceilings they faced and how they decided to deal with them.

 

While David smashed many of the ceilings he faced, Saul’s attitude meant he kept bouncing off them and never penetrated them. Take a look at the similar paths the men traveled:

 

1.      BOTH RECEIVED GODLY COUNSEL

 

Samuel, the last judge of Israel, anointed both men, and gave both godly counsel. When Samuel died, David continued to receive advice and direction from Nathan the prophet.

 

2.      BOTH FACED GREAT CHALLENGES

 

Every leader faces obstacles, mountains to climb, tests and trials, and these 2 kings were no exception. In fact, Saul and David sometimes faced the same challenges. Take Goliath, for example: When the huge Philistine offered to fight Israel’s champion, both Saul and David heard the challenge.

 

Saul, Israel’s greatest warrior and leaders, hid in fear.

 

1 Samuel 17:11 (ESV Strong’s)

When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

 

But David, a mere boy, eagerly faced the challenge and won honour for God.

 

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV Strong’s)

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

 

Same challenge, different response!

 

3.      BOTH FACED CHOICES TO REPENT, CHANGE AND GROW

 

Saul and David reacted very differently when confronted by their failures.

 

Samuel rebuked Saul for making an unauthorized burnt offering to God, and then towards the end for keeping the spoils for himself and faking a sacrifice. When confronted the king didn’t repent but offered excuses, reasons why he’d sinned and tried to couch them in religious language.

 

1 Samuel 15:19-22 (ESV Strong’s)

Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

 

Evidently Saul stayed on the same course, lost the kingdom and his life.

 

David possessed an entirely different kind of heart. When Nathan confronted the king after the sordid incident with Bathsheba, David broke down and sorrowfully repented.

 

2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV Strong’s)

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

 

Psalms 51:10 (ESV Strong’s)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

 

David chose to repent, to change and to grow, because he was a man after God’s own heart, but Saul hardened his heart and offered explanations why and excuses why not, instead of repentance. Today, as I share about this first glass ceiling, please don’t harden your heart, or make excuses, just do honest business with God, and let Him punch through the ceiling.

 

SAUL’S BIGGEST GLASS CEILING WAS FEAR

 

Saul faced many glass ceilings which limited his life, and today we will start with what to Saul was probably the biggest ceiling he faced, and is also probably the biggest we face, the glass ceiling of fear…

 

SAUL… A PRODUCT OF HIS OWN FEAR

 

1 Samuel 10:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)

Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”

 

Pretty inauspicious start… Where is the anointed one? Oh, he’s nicked off and is cowering in fear. And this fear became a ceiling Saul never broke through! This same fear is seen all through his life, such as with Goliath.

 

What about you? What do you fear? Do you fear sickness, failure, financial collapse, loneliness or criticism? Fear is what gives most people glass ceilings, limits which they never break through because they cannot control their fears, the fears control them!  But…

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

FEAR- FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL

 

If fear is controlling you, if fear is placing that glass ceiling before you, then today I want to give you the chance to smash through that ceiling forever!

 

An anagram for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. The vast majority of what we fear never actually happens, but this fear, even though it is not real or factual, actually enslaves us.

 

I remember doing an activity as a youth leader where we had to go to a dark corner of a graveyard at night and record a particular grave’s details. My group went through, terrified, but I saw the lights of the next group led by my friend, so doubled back and hid behind a tree. I jumped out and screamed, “Don’t be scared!” But their group were scared, not because I said something scary, but because their fear was heightened being in a graveyard… All in their minds.

 

Everyone experiences fear, just like Saul.  It’s how you respond to the fear that counts. Saul let fear be a glass ceiling in his life, and this fear controlled him, he never broke through and ultimately robbed him of his destiny.

 

If you tolerate the glass ceiling of fear, it can even become a self fulfilling prophecy, and a Job said,

 

Job 3:25 (ESV Strong’s)

For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.

 

Experiencing fear doesn’t mean your ungodly, but you need to realise that letting it control you robs you of blessing, while mastering it smashes through the glass ceiling!

 

SMASHING THROUGH THE FEAR GLASS CEILING

 

Saul faced the glass ceiling of fear, as did every Bible character, as do you and I! Fear is normal, but it is a ceiling begging to be obliterated!

 

Now not all fear is controlling and irrational, many fears are good and healthy.

 

Proverbs 9:10 (ESV Strong’s)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

 

Fear of God is healthy. Fear of snakes is too, as are many fears. Fear of electricity, fear of massive surf, fear of upsetting your wife, these are rational and healthy fears that ensure survival. The problem is not that you have fear, the problem is when the fear has you and limits you.

 

Fear produces glass ceilings because it causes us to battle against ourselves. The rational part of our brain wars against the fearful emotional side, and the struggle causes anxiety and exhaustion within us. Fear costs you, in worry, lack of sleep, medical bills and, in Saul’s case, it can even cost your destiny and life!

 

Whether it’s fear of failure, or people, or consequences, or the future, what are the steps towards breaking through the glass ceiling of fear?

 

F- FACE THE TRUTH

 

Ignoring fear might seem to solve the immediate feelings, but it never works for long. Burying your fear causes it to grow strong roots and sprout! Fears that create glass ceilings in your life have usually been there a long time and never dealt with.

 

Saul would not face his fear of Goliath, so he hid. David looked at the same fear and said,

 

1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV Strong’s)

who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

 

Today I’m going to ask you to face that fear which has become a glass ceiling in your life. Don’t run, don’t cower in terror, but we are going to look it in the eye and say, “Who are you to defy the living God!”

 

E- EXPERIENCE

 

Our fears are based on experiences we’ve had. Children are often fearless, because they haven’t experienced the consequences of their actions. They dive into your arms, but us adults refuse to trust like that.

 

That glass ceiling of fear is there because you’ve reinforced it over the years by experiences. But experiences can also shatter that very ceiling. Look at David…

 

1 Samuel 17:37 (ESV Strong’s)

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

 

He’d seen God give him victory over smaller fears, so he could trust God for more.

A-     ADJUST

 

Some of you are fearful of change. But if you don’t adjust, if you refuse to change, you will not break through the glass ceilings in your life.

 

And some people are just content with the devil they know. I know this fear is limiting and ruling my life, but I’m comfortable here. At least I know how bad it is. I can live with this fear, with this sickness, with this poverty. It might be worse on the other side!

 

Psalms 23:4 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Are you walking through a valley of fear, the shadow of death, or are you camping there? Have you set up a house there? Moving forward to your destiny involves change, it involves risk, but it involves you moving ahead. Is it a risk if you are walking through the valley of death with the good Shepherd?

 

R- RELAX

 

We are so stressed out in our society, we worry about moral declines, finances, relationships, bills, life. We literally don’t have time to relax. It’s all go, go, go and activity drives stress and activity.

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

It’s time to step back from the worries and fears and stress of life and disconnect. It’s time to put our lives into flight mode. In flight mode on your phone, everything still works, but you don’t get all these messages and stresses from the outside. For a short time you do well to disconnect, relax and soak in God!

 

Psalms 46:10 (ESV Strong’s)

“Be still, and know that I am God.

 

L- LISTEN TO GOD

 

You cannot hear God in the maelstrom that is your regular life! He will not shout above the noise, He patiently waits for you to get alone with Him.

 

Isaiah, after the triumph of Mt Carmel, cowered in a cave, full of fear that Jezebel would find him and kill him. He sought God, he needed to hear from God, and God met him in his hour of need…

 

1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

 

To smash the ceiling of fear, you need to relax, step back from the storm that is 21st century life, and connect with God. You need to listen, really listen for the still small voice of God!

 

E- ENACT

 

You can pray all you like, you can live with your fear, you can share it with others, you can think and discuss solutions, but until you take action, until you enact God’s solution to break through the glass ceiling, nothing will change.

 

Today is the day to conquer that fear that has limited for so long, and to take any action required to make it so.

 

James 1:22 (ESV Strong’s)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

I know some of this talk makes you uncomfortable. My role as pastor is to challenge you, not make you comfortable, otherwise we will all sit under our glass ceilings contentedly miserable.

 

God has more for you. God has a destiny, but you need to enact it. You need to be obedient, not just hear, not just give mental assent, but do whatever it takes to shatter this ceiling of fear. To smash this ceiling you need to say, Yes Lord, whatever it takes. Are you willing, or are you content to live under the thumb of the devil who uses fear to limit your life?

 

S- SEE CORRECTLY

 

Perception is your version of reality. Fear distorts your perception, and like a warped price of glass, the glass ceiling of fear distorts everything you see through it.  And what affects how you see things and your fears? Experience, especially bad ones.

 

Bad experiences thicken and warp the glass ceiling of fear. And some of you have had your share of bad experiences. King David, however, smashed though the fear ceiling by remembering what God has done in the past.

 

1 Samuel 17:37 (ESV Strong’s)

David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

 

Take a chance, trust God and remember all the times He has brought you through. If you have none of those, start now trusting Him to build those fear destroying memories, because you can trust God!

 

S- SECURITY IN GOD IS THE ANTIDOTE TO FEAR

 

Psalms 27:1 (ESV Strong’s)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

When you know God, when you truly draw close to Him, you can break through the glass ceiling of fear, because you have the security of trusting the God of creation, your father who loves you and cares for you and has a plan for you. David also wrote,

 

Psalms 34:4 (ESV Strong’s)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

 

Today is the day you can be delivered from all your fears. Finances, health, relationships, those glass ceilings that limit you, the fear that holds you back from all God has for you. And we are here to walk this road with you.

 

You can be FEARLESS in the power of the Lord. Decide today that that glass ceiling of fear has no power, it’s weak and about to shattered.

 

Today we hit it hard and smash it into tiny pieces.

Today I want to start a short series looking at how we can break through the glass ceilings of our lives.

2 Samuel 5:1-3 (ESV Strong’s)
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

Why is it that Saul had limits that ultimately defeated him, but David broke through and conquered his limits? That’s what I want to look at in this series, because like glass Ceilings, we can see beyond our limits, see through them to where we should be, but this invisible barrier seems to stop us every time.

 

GLASS CEILINGS

 

When people use the term “The glass ceiling”, they are referring to an invisible barrier that prevents them from attaining the success they see others around them achieving. You know what that’s like, when you try and try but you just seem to bounce of this invisible barrier.

 

So what is your “glass ceilings”? We have so many things we can do for the Lord, and really none of us are at our full potential, but if we are to reach God’s potential for our lives, we must realise that we all have “glass ceilings” in our lives, and that to move ahead these need to be shattered.

 

Over this series I want to look at the lives of these 2 kings, and learn the truth about the “glass ceilings” in life and how they can be broken forever.

 

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

God’s plans for us don’t have ceilings, and He promises exceedingly abundantly more, but never the less these ceilings exist, not in God but in our minds.

 

STEPS TO BEING A SMASHING SUCCESS

 

The thing about a glass ceiling is that you can see through it, but you can’t smash your way through it. You can see where you should be, but every time you try and reach for it, you hit this barrier. I remember running into a glass door because it was so clean I couldn’t see it! This is why I rarely clean windows at my house.

 

Psalms 138:8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

God wants to fulfil His purpose for you, and he doesn’t want you limited by glass ceilings and barriers in your life. He wants you to conquer them, not by your own strength, but by His power. So let’s examine some steps towards overcoming glass ceilings in our lives.

 

1.      ACKNOWLEDGE GLASS CEILINGS EXIST

 

Most people cannot see the glass ceilings in their lives because they’ve trained themselves to ignore them. I remember reading Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and when a space ship appeared above a Test Match at Lord’s Cricket ground, no one could see it because it had an SEP field around it. That stands for “Someone else’s problem,” and the writer stated that people’s brains dismissed the image of a space ship because it wasn’t their problem.

 

Many of the glass ceilings we face are as a result of society, and society’s standards and expectations. We are not even aware of these ceilings, because our world tells us these barriers are normal. You can’t become an evangelist because religion is personal and we don’t talk about that. You can’t bring children up in the Lord because that’s brainwashing them. You can’t make more of your life because you’re just a worker, just a mother, or you have this sickness, or you’re too old, or too young, or divorced or disabled.

 

Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong’s)

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.

 

Part of renewing your mind is a acknowledging that these glass ceilings even exist, but also recognising that though they may limit us, they won’t limit God! The first step in overcoming them is simply admitting they exist.

 

Why does it seem so hard for us to admit that we are not perfect? Why do we want to paint on a happy face when we come to church, and pretend that all is well, when in fact, there are many areas in our lives that hinder us and cause us to stumble? Our “glass ceilings” will never be broken until we first accept the fact that they exist!

 

2.      IDENTIFY YOUR GLASS CEILINGS

 

The next step is to identify your ceilings. What are the invisible barriers you face to spiritual maturity? You may not even see them, so you may need to ask God where they are.

 

As we explore this over the coming weeks, we are going to identify the barriers Kings Saul and King David faced. Like them, we all face glass ceilings in our lives, and it’s important we identify where and what they are.

 

Is it fear, impatience, denial, stubbornness, your upbringing, your finances, or your spouse? Is it your job, your church, your need to control, or your need to be needed? What is it that becomes a ceiling in your life that stops you becoming the person God wants you to be? God says,

 

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong’s)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

He has great plans for your life, your ministry, your part in His great plan of bringing our nation to Him. But He hasn’t put ceilings in our lives, we have, and if we trust Him and look to the future, if we are obedient and serve Him, we can and will break through those self imposed ceilings.

 

3.      DECIDE THAT IT’S TIME TO BREAKTHROUGH

 

While you are pondering these ceilings in your life, let’s look at the 3rd step… Make a decision that is time to smash these glass ceilings.

 

I remember years ago meeting a young lady in Pune, India. Serving on the mission field with 2 small children. She told me she was a single mum, with no fixed income, and there she was in missions. I asked her how she managed this, and she said she didn’t see why being a single mum should stop her from what God had for her.

 

I meet so many people who want to serve God, want to make a difference, want to win their community to Jesus, but other things demand their attention. Some of you here know God has great things for you, but you seem to hit a barrier every time you try to move ahead. Sometimes its the tyranny  of the urgent, many times it’s you wanting to do something else first.

 

People say to me, just let me build my business, just let me bring up my family, just let me buy that house that car, that at computer first, then I’ll serve God. Then I’ll get involved in church. I’d love to be more involved, but I have things I need to do. But Paul says,

 

2 Corinthians 6:2 (ESV Strong’s)

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

 

Stop offering excuses, instead of your body as a living sacrifice! It’s time to stop letting other ultimately less important things in eternity stop you from fully engaging for God right now.

 

Money, work, family, careers, houses, possessions, reputations, all these are important, but none of them, not a single one is more important than obedience to God. And here’s Jesus’ promise… If you put Him first, and serve Him first, you get the lot…

 

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

So today I urge you  to stop putting it off and decide to break through the glass ceilings go for it!

 

4.      TEST THE CEILING

 

When you  detect a ceiling in your life, this is when you need godly wisdom. Any boundary can be broken through, but there are ways to do it and ways to not do it.

 

Don’t just dive off the high board and hope you make it. Solomon wrote,

 

Ecclesiastes 11:6 (ESV Strong’s)

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

 

There are always a number of things you can do to break through your glass ceiling. Some things are more effective than others, some more costly. I don’t know the best way for you to breakthrough in your situation, and neither do you… But God does!

 

So try things, test them, see what works.  But if you want to fast track the process, and minimise the pain and the cost, seek God’s wisdom, not man’s. Come to church, listen to the sermons, get into the app, seek godly advice, read His Word, if you’re smart you will do whatever it takes to gain godly wisdom and insight and fast track your breakthrough…

 

James 1:5 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Get God’s wisdom and perspective, and start testing the boundaries of your ceiling to see where the likely breakthrough points, might be.

 

5.      START AND KEEP GOING

 

Many people fail to breakthrough their glass ceilings because they give up. They pray, they ask God, they try for a time, but they get tired, get discouraged and give up, often just as that ceiling is starting to crack!

 

Toughened glass is chemically or heat treated to make it super tough. A mega hard surface makes it Toughened, and they use to use this glass in windscreens. But what happens if you hit it hard enough or hit the same spot several times? Once that skin is penetrates the entire glass panel implodes into hundreds of tiny pieces.

 

In your quest to smash through that ceiling in your spiritual life, you need to not lose heart and not give up. Some of you are so close, so keep going. When you look back from eternity the ceiling that now seems so strong and so limiting will be as nothing. It’s temporal, it’s temporary and it’s there to be smashed through…

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (ESV Strong’s)

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,

 

6.      BREAKING THE GLASS CEILINGS LEADS TO MORE BREAKTHROUGHS

 

Here’s an exciting thing… once you break through your ceiling, once you one rate the barrier, you open the door to even more breakthroughs, and you’ll be amazed at what follows.

 

In 1956, Roger Bannister was the first to break the 4 minute mile. Within a few years, more than 20 other people had achieved this feat. Today, over 1,400 athletes have done it, and the current record is 3.43.13.

 

Fiona and I suffered tremendous financial loss 10 years ago, and for a long time it seemed nothing we did could even start our recovery. We worked hard, saved heaps, prayed loads and tried everything we could, but it felt like we had a glass ceiling. We continuously believed that God would restore our finances, and we kept slugging away, with few results.

 

The ceiling was smashed through after some years, when on Fiona’s birthday we opened an envelope which contained a cheque from what we though was a lost investment, for $55,000. After this we started to move ahead financially, and God is restoring what the locusts have eaten even today. Trust God, honour God, keep going and let Him break through those glass ceilings…

 

Malachi 3:10 (ESV Strong’s)

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

 

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, IT’S WHO YOU KNOW!

 

When it comes to breaking through those ceilings in your life, you can fight, you can smash, you can hit, you can scream, you can blame others and worry and fret and get discouraged. The world will say, “Come on, you can do it,” But I’m saying no you can’t, there’s a better way.

 

The better way is this… Seek God! That’s what made David different to Saul, he was a man after God’s own heart. When it comes to breaking through these glass ceilings, it’s not about you, your abilities and your hangups. In fact, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

 

The answer for breaking through whatever ceiling you are facing right now is knowing God more. The more you know Him, the more He will give you His power to live the life He has called you to live.

 

The more intimately you know Him, the more He can lead and guide amd direct your steps, and those ceilings, that seem so strong now, will be smashed to smitherines!

 

Today I want to challenge you to identify at least one of the glass ceilings you currently face. If you’re on the app, write it down, because I want to hear testimony after testimony in a few months time of the amazing shattering of these ceilings.

 

Today I want you to identify the ceiling, then come forward and give it to the Lord. Whatever it is, finances, relationships, fears, resentment, give it all to Jesus today.

 

Hosea 6:3 (ESV Strong’s)

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;

his going out is sure as the dawn;

he will come to us as the showers,

as the spring rains that water the earth.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to hinder you, or will you conquer them? In the end, it’s all up to you!

Once again we had 3 preachers at Ignite, and this was awesome because it brought 3 perspectives on the topic Shining Jesus in a hurting world.

Shining Jesus is not All Talk

All three of our preachers considered the topic of how we as believers can shine the good news of Jesus to a world that is hurting, and clearly in crisis.

Paul West, Leanne Shewan and finally Pastor Keith Heale were able to bring unique and challenging perspectives to this topic which all of us should be considering.

In an age where many consider the influence of the church waning, our preachers went beyond just talking about it, to show us that every one of us has a chance to shine for Jesus.

So listen and enjoy the unique and wonderful perspective each preacher brought to this question, and ask yourself what God has called you to do, and how your life can always be shining Jesus to a hurting world.