Father’s Day 2020

Someone once described Father’s Day as the same as Mother’s Day only you don’t  have to spend as much on the present. Well today I want to look at fatherhood, and especially at the father’s heart.

Now admittedly some fathers are not great, and while they might profess love, they often don’t show love or communicate it. Dad, this morning to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.

But first, before we dive into the Father’s heart,

Here’s the top ten things a father will never say…

  1. Take my wallet and GO CRAZY shopping.
    9. No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit complaining and let’s go to the mall.
  2. Here honey, you use the remote.
    7. Well, how ’bout that? I’m lost! Looks like we’ll have to stop and ask for directions.
    6. Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend … you might want to consider throwing a party.
    5. Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.
    4. Hey, let me hold your purse while you try that on.
    3. Let’s watch a chick flick tonight!
    2. Honey, I know you’re tired. You stay home and relax while I take our child to the school speech night.

and the Number 1 thing you’ll never hear a Dad say:
1. When I was growing up, we had it really easy!

THE HEART OF THE FATHER

 

In our society fathers used to be honoured, but now they are figures of ridicule. Mr Brady as given way to Homer Simpson. But the true father is not a dope, or a control freak, or a disinterested observer, he actively loves unconditionally, and always is open to welcoming a wayward child home.

 

Let’s have a close look at God’s love for us as we examine a beautiful passage on the Father’s Heart…, and no other passage illustrates the Father’s Heart like this.

 

Luke 15:11-24 (ESV Strong’s)

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 

  1. THE FATHER’S HEART IS GENEROUS

 

If this parable we see the father being generous with his sons. Great fathers are generous, not stingy.  The younger son asked for his share of the inheritance early, and even though the father knew that his son was going to squander it, he remained generous. In their culture, asking for your inheritance early is like wishing your father was dead, yet despite this selfish, hurtful request, the father remained generous in heart.

 

John 15:13 (ESV Strong’s)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

 

John 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

My dad laid his life down for me…

 

Story of my drowning.

 

Sometimes we feel like God is holding out on us, punishing us, judging us, withholding blessing from us, but the Bible teaches us that we serve a generous and loving Father. The heart of the Father is always loving, and generous.

 

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,

 

The heart of the father is exceedingly and abundantly generous!

 

  1. THE FATHER’S HEART IS NOT CONTROLLING

 

As painful as it was, the father in the parable gave his son his inheritance early, generously and without conditions. He didn’t say, “OK, here’s the money, but you need to invest it. Or tithe it to the church. Or buy me a new mower.” Giving unconditionally, takes courage as a parent!  He knew

 

Galatians 6:7 (ESV Strong’s)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

 

The father could see disaster was coming, but he let his son make his own decisions.  God is that father… He blesses all of us, without controlling us, even those who hate Him, because His love is unconditional.

 

I recall as a teenager going out one night and getting very drunk, sneaking in late. Next morning I felt terrible, and told my mum and dad the food must have been off, and I needed a Panadol. He said, no, you need to feel the consequences of your decision.

 

Fathers, while we need to protect our kids, they reach a point when they make their own decisions. When we don’t agree with them, it’s tempting to go all religious on them, or kick them out or reject them. You don’t have to agree with them, but You need to love them unconditionally. If you reject them, you will never reach them.

 

One of our foster girls decided to turn into a boy, and she asked if I love her, and if I would support her decision. I replied, “Yes and no. Yes I love you, I will never stop loving you, no matter what. However, I cannot and will never agree with your lifestyle choice, but will love you anyway.”

 

Parents, I know many of you grieve over your children, that they have rejected Christ. You brought them up the right way, but there comes a time, when they make their own decisions. Fathers and mothers, listen… stop making yourself feel guilty for the decisions your children have made.

 

You may have made mistakes, and you could argue that the father in the parable made a mistake trusting his son.  Ultimately, when they are of age, the decisions they make are not your fault… they are their decisions. That being said, we are responsible to pray for our children’s salvation!

 

  1. THE FATHER’S HEART IS BROKEN

 

Psalms 78:40-41 (ESV Strong’s)

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

 

God’s Heart is broken and He grieves when we rebel against Him. Imagine how the father in the parable felt when this wayward son took his inheritance and headed off to blow it all on partying. This father who had nurtured and provided for the son, brought him up in all the right ways, found the son he loved had it thrown back in his face! Love us always risky, because your heart can be broken.

 

Some of you here know exactly how that feels. Some of you fathers understand this, because your kids have rebelled against what you believe is true, and squandered their lives and broken your heart! If that is you as a parent…

 

Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

When I rebelled against my parents for a short time, I wasn’t thinking of their pain. I was just having what I thought was a good time; parties, girls, drink, etc.  I broke my parent’s heart, and in my selfishness I never even realised how much… until I became a father.

 

We are all like the prodigal son when we walk away from our Heavenly Father. Some of you here have been breaking your heavenly dad’s  heart for a long time. While you plunge into the life you choose to lead, with the consequences you complain about and blame God for, you are plunging a dagger into the heart of people who love you, and especially God.

 

  1. THE FATHER’S HEART IS PATIENT

 

So the father in the parable lost his son to a foreign country, where the son squandered all the father’s money on sex, drugs and rock n roll.

 

Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be, yeah!

 

Many of us have tried to live a life satisfying our own desires, and when we live this life we start to understand how shallow it really is. In a heartbeat you could die, and have nothing to show for the life you’ve lived except a trail of broken hearts and disappointments. When you stand before God, and you will, the only thing that matters is whether you have asked Jesus into your life as Lord and Saviour. Nothing else counts. Not money, prestige, fame, cars, houses, even family… nothing else counts. God either sees your sin, or He sees His Son.

 

Right now, God is patiently waiting for you. He waits for you to turn to Him…

 

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

God doesn’t want you to perish. If you die in your sins, it will break His heart because YOU will have chosen to go to hell. He gave the best of heaven to stop you going to hell, and waits patiently for your to respond.

 

Look in your heart. That emptiness, that hole which is never filled, that’s a God shaped hole, that only God can fill. If you want your life to count, if you want to live in peace and have your soul prosper, commit your life to Jesus today. He awaits patiently, with arms open.

 

  1. THE FATHER’S HEART IS ACTIVELY SEEKING

 

Once the son left with the loot, the father didn’t just go back to life as usual. I believe that from the very day the son left, the father was actively seeking him. He was scanning the horizon, praying and looking out for his return.

 

Ezekiel 34:16 (ESV Strong’s)

I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak,

 

Luke 15:4 (ESV Strong’s)

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

 

If you are not walking with God, your father is actively seeking you right now. Don’t reject Him again, but run into His arms of love. You are loved, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how ashamed you are, you are loved by God. You don’t have to become good enough for God, just accept His free gift of salvation…

 

Luke 19:10 (ESV Strong’s)

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

 

  1. GOD’S HEART IS RESPONSIVE

 

Once the son hit rock bottom, he came to his senses and decided to return home and just become a servant, knowing he had ruined any chance he had of being a son. He knew the Jewish law…

 

Deuteronomy 21:20-21

‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.

 

But the son took a chance on returning to the father. You need to take a chance and return to your Heavenly Father this morning, because I can assure you He’s not out to punish you, He is seeking you to love you and accept you.

 

Luke 15:20 (ESV Strong’s)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

 

The father was ready to respond in love and welcome him home. Jewish fathers never run like this, but this one did! This father ran and embraced the son, and your Heavenly Father is ready to respond in the same way with you right now. Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve fallen to, God loves you today…

 

We don’t deserve such love, but the generous and unconditionally loving father lavishes spiritual riches and blessings upon us, and gives us eternal life. We deserve death, you and I, but if we repent and come to Jesus, He gives life, and life to the full!

 

Luke 15:21-24 (ESV Strong’s)

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 

  1. THE FATHER’S  HEART IS RESTORATIVE

 

This father not only forgave his wayward son, but he restore him to the position he had originally despised and cashed in on. There was no  retrospective punishment, there was no penance required. The father didn’t have a list of rules to follow, or a set of standards or a contract the son had to sign, there was only the restoring love of the father.

 

Isaiah 61:7 (ESV Strong’s)

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.

 

See the amazing love God has for you! He will restore the life you should have led all along, a double portion, more than you deserve, more than you could even imagine!

SOMEBODY WANTS YOU HOME

 

Here’s the true story behind a popular song from the 1970s…

 

“A man was sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the young man revealed that he was a paroled convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame to his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.

 

“To make it easy for them, however, he had written to them asking that they put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him, they were to tie a white ribbon in the big apple tree which stood near the tracks. If they didn’t want him to return, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train as it traveled onward.

 

“As the train neared his hometown, the suspense became so great that he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. He exclaimed, ‘In just five minutes the engineer will sound the whistle indicating our approach to the long bend which opens into the valley I know as home. Will you watch for the apple tree at the side of the track?’ His companion said he would; they exchanged places. The minutes seemed like hours, but then there came the shrill sound of the train whistle. The young man asked, ‘Can you see the tree? Is there a white ribbon?’

 

“His companion said, ‘I see the tree. But there’s not one white ribbon, there’s hundreds. Son, someone surely does love you, and wants you home.'”

 

Today there are a hundred white ribbons tied to the old Apple tree, and they are all just for you! Your Heavenly Father’s heart is breaking for you, longing for you, waiting for you.

 

Some of you here have never asked the Lord into your life. You’ve been spending your life doing whatever you choose to do, just like the wayward son, but today the faithful Father is calling you home to Himself. Those hundreds of ribbons are tied to the tree, just for you see, so give your heart to Him today! He says come, come to the water and drink, come to the Lord and let Him show you how you can live a life beyond anything you could possibly imagine. He has a plan and purpose for you, so come to Jesus today and live!

 

Some of you here know the Lord, but have not been walking closely to Him in recent times. Father’s Day is a great time to bless your Heavenly Father’s heart and tell Him that you love Him. His arms are outstretched, and He is calling you today. Recommit your life to Him, come to the Father on Father’s Day.

 

Now, let’s finish by praying for our kids who are not walking with God.

 

Why Lord, Why?

Our friend Dave Mallet was killed this week, and all of us are asking why Lord, why?

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV Strong’s)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Prayer

I have to tell you that after this week I feel like the grace by which I stand sees me barely standing. There’s been a lot of horrible stuff going on, culminating in the absolute worst bit… the loss of a dear and valued friend, Dave Mallet. It’s times like these that we, in our confusion, struggle to make sense of life, and struggle to rejoice in the hope of God.

 

IS IT OK TO ASK WHY?

 

If we get what we want our faith is built up, and we are ok with that. When we believe God and He makes it happen, we celebrate our faith, and rightly so. But can we have faith in the dark times, when people attack, when tragedy strikes, when we don’t get the answers we wanted?

 

We can. God has taught me that this is a greater and deeper faith.

 

When tragedy strikes, is asking God why an anti faith act? I believe it’s ok to be honest with God. So if you have the question “why God” it is not sinful if it comes from a genuine heart of faith. God is ok when we honestly share our doubts and struggles, but He’s not ok with our disobedient disbelief.

 

Habakkuk was honest with God,

 

Habakkuk 1:2 (ESV Strong’s)

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

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

 

He’s asking why, Lord, why? So am I. A man in a stolen car killed our friend this week, and we have every right to ask the question like Habakkuk, why the righteous suffer because of the unrighteous. Consider Job…

 

God gave permission for Satan to severely test Job, and in his suffering Job asked God questions too! His questioning and doubts were understandable, but his faith is astonishing.

 

Job 1:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)

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

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

 

At times like this, it’s ok to honestly and openly ask God why. But it’s not ok to walk away from your faith, as many do, and it’s not ok to charge God with wrong and sin. The act is, sin is in our world, Sin produces suffering, Suffering produces pain, and we humans don’t like pain, so we avoid it at all costs. Yet through the prism of God’s promises, pain can produce gain.

 

THE DARK ROAD OF THE SOUL

 

I cannot tell you why Dave was killed, and why his beautiful wife Julie and his beloved family have to suffer through this tragedy. I can’t tell you why babies die, or why sometimes even Christian marriages fail. I can’t give you a reason why strong believers suffer death, sickness or financial loss and ruin. Look around.., There’s no shortage of loss, tragedy and pain in this fallen world, and one thing I have learned is that much of it you just can’t fix! You just have to walk the dark lonely road somehow.

 

Experts tell us that grief and loss goes through 5 stages…

 

DENIAL: Denial is not just a river in Egypt. The first response to tragedy is often, no, that can’t be right.

ANGER: God, how can you let this happen, it’s not fair!

BARGAINING: If only I’d have done this, that wouldn’t have happened, or God, if you make this work I promise I’ll be obedient and do whatever You want

DEPRESSION: Life is a mess, I can’t go on, life’s not worth living

ACCEPTANCE: God, I don’t know why this happened, but I trust You no matter what.

 

Tragedy is beyond reason. It is simply a road we have to walk, and it is better to walk it with God, and with others who love you.  I love how King David describes it…

 

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.

 

The rod and the staff represent God’s protection and God’s guidance. The rod is a short, heavy club, and the staff is the one we picture shepherd with, with a hook on the end, used to guide and rescue sheep. David says they comfort him in the valley, and as we go through the valleys of life, we can be comforted and assured of God’s protection and also His guidance.

 

And remember, death has no sting for the believer, and Dave and Julie have loved and served the Lord all their life. There’s pain, there’s loss, but Paul writes,

 

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV Strong’s)

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

It’s not that death and separation doesn’t hurt, of course they do, but we know with absolute surety that we will see Dave’s beaming smile again. As the KJV says,

 

2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV Strong’s)

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

 

Right now Dave is in a better place with Jesus, but we who remain suffer loss. Julie suffers loss right now, and all who love Dave suffer loss, but the Bible says this suffering is not in vain!

 

THE PRODUCT OF SUFFERING

 

There is a product, a point to suffering. Romans reveals to us a progression that develops us towards becoming like Jesus.

 

Romans 5:3 (ESV Strong’s)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

 

The Greek for rejoice is kauch-ao-mai, which means literally to boast or glory in something. When we suffer tragedy and loss, Paul is not suggesting that we be happy about it. It hurts, it may even devastate, and it’s hard to rejoice in that. Yay I’m in pain! Yippee, I’ve lost everything! That’s not what he is saying.

 

What he is saying is that through the lens of the tragedy we can see the bigger picture, we see the hand of God, and rejoice and even glory in the fact that God will bring good though it, and will develop us to become more Christ like through it. We rejoice not because of the suffering of the moment, but because of what the suffering opens for us in the long run.

 

We live in a fallen world. God doesn’t make us suffer, sin causes suffering, but God allows this because He has a higher plan. Suffering is the start of a glorious road towards becoming like Jesus.  Here’s the path…

 

1.      SUFFERING PRODUCES ENDURANCE

 

James 1:2-3(ESV Strong’s)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

 

Romans 5:3 (ESV Strong’s)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

 

Endurance is the Greek word HYPOMONÉ, meaning patient, steadfast and even cheerful waiting, and it implies a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety, by even the greatest trials and sufferings.

 

Endurance is not passive, and it’s not fatalistic, it’s not sitting back and saying, Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be. It is staying the course, keeping on keeping on, it’s holding to your Saviour and never letting go of your trust in the Lord, no matter how you suffer. And it gives rise to…

 

2.      ENDURANCE PRODUCES CHARACTER

 

Romans 5:4 (ESV Strong’s)

and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

 

Character is DOKIMÉ, which means a proven specimen of tried worth. Tested, and found worthy.

 

A great analogy is tempered steel. Steel is heated almost to melting point, then quickly cooled. This creates a far stronger alloy, and a far less brittle product. It’s the heat, the fire, that produces the strength, just as it’s the trials that produces the strength of character.

 

3.      CHARACTER PRODUCES HOPE

 

Romans 5:4 (ESV Strong’s)

and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

 

Character produces hope. Hope is ELPIS, meaning a Joyful and confident expectation. We misuse the word hope in English. I hope it all works out, I hope you’re OK. There is a possibility it could go either way. But Biblical hope is not like that. It’s a sure thing, it is an absolute surety. Hebrews says…

 

Hebrews 6:18-19 (ESV Strong’s)

it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

 

A believer’s hope doesn’t change with circumstances, it is firmly grounded, anchored by a strong character, developed by long-suffering.

 

HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT US

 

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV Strong’s)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 

We rejoice in and through and out the other side of our sufferings, not because we are suffering, but because what suffering produces in our lives is beyond value. We have hope, no matter what! Hope stands, despite circumstances, despite hardships, and it is our source of true joy.

 

When we have descended into a pit of despair, when we are surrounded by trials and tests and suffering, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can come forth with incredible hope, tapping into the strength that comes by faith. This is a resource beyond our understanding or ability to cope, within a divine plan for hope and a future. So this week of all weeks I ask, Are you living that truth?

 

JOYFUL HOPE

 

True joy is not what the rest of the world thinks it is. In their mind, when things are going well we are happy. When we get what we want, we are happy. When people love us, when we get a job promotion, we are happy. But that’s not joy.

 

Joy is based not in what we get, or what we experience, it is based in who we are. A few verses after Paul talks about joy in suffering and hope, he writes this…

 

Romans 5:8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Our joy is based on God’s immense, unconditional and sacrificial love for us, not on what befalls us. Today we all feel loss, especially Julie and the family. But no matter the circumstances, God’s love and therefore our joy can be unchanged!

 

These last few weeks and months have been full of doubt, uncertainty, pain, loss and confusion. I wish I could skip straight to next year, maybe the one after that. This last week I’ve cried, I’ve felt loss, I’ve been attacked and criticised, I’ve been threatened and frankly, I’ve been discouraged and miserable. But God said,

 

Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV Strong’s)

do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

 

My joy, your joy, should not depend what happens to us or what we get… It depends on who we are. In suffering, we have joy, because we belong to Him. If we pray and we don’t get what we want, we have joy, because we belong to Him. If my heart is broken, I can take those pieces to the Lord with an unquenchable hope, because I have joy, because I belong to Him.

 

TRUE JOY IS INEXTINGUISHABLE

 

This week, as we reel from the loss of a dear friend, as we stand with Julie  and the family in their pain, as we don’t understand and ask the question, why, Lord, we have a joy that no one and nothing can extinguish. As the Psalmist wrote…

 

Psalms 94:18-19 (NIV-WS)

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”

your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought me joy.

 

It’s ok to ask why. It’s ok to hurt and feel down. But how much better is it to rejoice in something that death, pain, fear and loss can never erase. Our joy, our hope our faith is in the Lord, and in the fact that we are His children. As an old hymn by Oswald Smith says,

 

Joy in the face of sorrow, peace in the midst of pain

Jesus will give, Jesus will give

He will uphold and sustain

 

Whatever pain, whatever fear, whatever hurt or doubts you face today, you are God’s beloved child, and in that you can have everlasting joy. Suffering is a stepping stone, pain is a paver, loss is a lane way to everlasting hope and joy.

 

Habakkuk started questioning God, full of fear, full of doubt, miserable and in pain. But let me read the last few verses to show where he ended up…

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong’s)

Habakkuk Rejoices in the LORD

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.

 

Mother’s Day 2020

Hi and welcome to a quite unusual Mother’s Day 2020.

Mother’s Day has Never Been so Weird!

 

 

What a crazy time to be trying to run a church, and minister to your people!  So, preaching to an empty church but a load of people in cyberspace, here is Ps Darin’s Mother’s Day message…

Welcome to the craziest Mothers Day ever, set as it were against the background of the corona virus. You can’t see your mum, or touch your mum, but you can zoom her, FaceTime her, Skype her and even telephone her.

 

I even heard that babies born in this year, in 13 years time will not be called generation X,  Y, Z, etc, but quaran-teens.

 

Today we celebrate mothers. Becoming a mother is a biological process, and it takes only a moment. Being a mother is not so easy, because it is a lifelong commitment for which there is no preparation, no training and often very little help.

 

One woman’s said, “Before I got married I had 3 theories on how to raise children. Now I have 3 children, and no theories!”

 

Exodus 20:12 (ESV Strong’s)

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

 

So today, although we cannot be physically together, I want to honour the mothers here on Mother’s Day, and give you a virtual COVID 19 hug.

 

Being a great mum is a calling, and God has great plans for you mums. They say, The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. What that means is that mums have a disproportionate and amazing influence on their children, their grandchildren, and hence the whole of society.

 

2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV Strong’s)

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. What w3 deposit with our children and grandchildren lives forever.

MOTHERHOOD- OVERVALUED BUT UNDERPAID

 

Men, you go out to work and expect to get paid for a job well done. Motherhood has been jointly described as the world’s most underpaid job, or the most highly paid job if you count love and goodwill instead of just money…

 

Salary.com conducted a survey in 2010 that attempted to place a monetary value on the work of a stay-at-home mom. They determined that if mothers were to be paid for their ten most common tasks in the home (including cleaner, janitor, taxi driver, computer operator, housekeeper, teacher, cook, chief executive officer, psychologist, and facilities manager) they would be paid over $120,000 per annum, much of it overtime.

Milton Berle once quipped, “If evolution is real,  how come mothers only have 2 hands!”

To every mum today on Mother’s Day, God has given you an unique calling… You are…

  1. GROWER

 

Psalms 127:3 (ESV Strong’s)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

 

Mums, you have given birth to and nurtured your children, some fairly recently, some a long time ago. As a grower, you get to see them grow from a tiny baby into mature, and sometimes not so mature, adults.

 

Yours is the great challenge, and the great joy of seeing potential realised. But the challenge is, while you may have dreams of what you’re growing, you don’t actually know what you’re growing! If a farmer plants wheat, he gets wheat. If he plants corn, he doesn’t get cucumbers, he gets corn.

 

But mums, you could be growing a prime minister, or a doctor, or a pastor, or another mum, or you could be growing C criminal, a drug dealer or possibly even worse, a politician. You have no idea, right? For this you have to trust God and obey His directions, and when you do you need to trust Him for the fruit of your labours.

 

  1. TEACHER

 

As many of you have found out, in this Corona virus pandemic, you’ve all suddenly been elected teachers! But mum, you’ve always been a teacher…

 

Proverbs 1:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

 

At the other end of proverbs, the excellent, praiseworthy wife is describes like this…

 

Proverbs 31:26 (ESV Strong’s)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 

So mums, we honour you today for your teaching, and pearls of wisdom, like…

 

Silence is golden, unless you have kids… Then it’s suspicious

Parenting tip- If you don’t know where your kids are in the house, turn off the internet and watch them magically appear

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shovelling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” —Phyllis Diller

“I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them.”

 

 

  1. COMFORTER

 

Isaiah 66:13 (ESV Strong’s)

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;

 

Whether it’s a skinned knee, a shattered dream, a broken heart or compulsory isolation, great mums are there to comfort you. Even if they felt their mums never comforted them, great mums still comfort those they love.

 

  1. ADVISOR

 

Even today at my age my mother is able to advise me, and I listen. Why? Because she has earned the right to speak into my life, and that’s what great mums do on Mother’s Day.

 

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV Strong’s)

Train up a child in the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

Mothers, like it or not, tend to have advice on everything. Now we all know the kind of advice mothers give, but I found a list of things you will likely never hear your mother say…

 

“Just leave all the lights on…it makes the house look more cheery.”

“Let me smell that shirt—Yeah, it’s good for another week.”

“Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day.”

“I know I said no, but if Timmy’s mom says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”

“Come home when you like, the curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.”

“I don’t have a tissue with me…just use your sleeve.”

 

How many of you know that, when facing choices in your life, many times your mother’s advice comes to mind. So mums, be careful what you advise your children, because they take it all in, even if they don’t appear to act upon it.

 

 

  1. COUNCILLOR

 

Proverbs 31:26 (ESV Strong’s)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 

Mothers, you have wisdom this Mother’s Day. It might be worldly wisdom from beneath, or it might be godly wisdom from above. As mums, you want to give the right wisdom to your kids.

 

ERMA BOMBECK said

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.

Many great people, from Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jordon to Liza Minnelli attribute their success to advice their mums gave them.

 

  1. STEWARD

 

Great mums realise that they don’t own their children, they steward them. Many of you older mums are at this point right now. You bring children up the best you can, maybe teach them all about the Lord, but at some point you need to let them go, and they make their own choices, many of which you may not agree with.

 

I don’t agree with all the decisions my kids make, but I make sure my disagreement never diminishes how much I love them. One of the fallacies of our modern world is that people say if you love me you’ll let me. Listen, you can love someone and still disagree with them.

 

Mothers, you need to be stewards of your kids, then release them to the Lord. Samuel’s mother, Hannah, who had waited so long for a child, prayer so fervently for a child, when she had her first she dedicated him to God…

 

1 Samuel 1:27-28 (ESV Strong’s)

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

 

Mothers, many of your hearts are breaking for kids gone astray, kids who have rejected Christ. 2 things, first stop blaming yourself. At some point your children make their own decision, and it’s not your fault. But secondly, never stop praying and believing for your children!

 

  1. PRAYER

 

A mother’s prayer has saved many a soul, so whatever you do, never give up on your children this Mother’s Day. Never stop praying for your children…

 

1 John 5:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

 

Mothers, your prayers are powerful and I know myself, when I was rebelling against my parents, I believe it was the prayers of my mother that kept me from harm and brought me back to God.

 

The prayer of mothers protect their children. Augustine, John and Charles Wesley, Hudson Taylor, Billy Graham and many other great men who changed the world for Christ had praying mothers.

 

  1. BELIEVER

 

And finally, never stop believing for your children.

 

Galatians 6:9 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Mums want to believe in you, Mother’s Day and every other day, whether you believe in you or not. Mums see the good in their children, even if no one else does.

For example, Hitler’s mum Klara took him to church and wanted him to be a civil servant. Napoleon’s mum was married at 13 and accompanied him into exile on the island of Elba.  Osama Bin Laden’s mum wanted him to stop fighting the west and come home to Saudi like a good boy. Donald Trump described his mum as smart as hell and he said he’s had trouble finding women to marry who compared to his her!

I read about Ted Bundy’s mother Louise, who loved her son so much that she refused to believe he was a killer, until a series of death row confessions of 36 murders put the matter beyond doubt. These mums saw the best in their children even when others saw them as tyrants and killers.

Mums believe in us when others give up on us. Mums always want the best for their kids and grandkids, as I bet every mum listening to this message does.

So mums, we honour you this day, in the midst of the greatest crisis most of us have known in our lifetimes, we honour you mums, and I ask you mums, please don’t give up on your kids, no matter how bad you might think they have become.

One of the greatest church fathers in history owed his ministry and life to his mother’s faithfulness…

St Augustine’s mother was a godly woman who lived around 350AD. She loved her wayward son, and the young Augustine lived with a girl and had an illegitimate child, then followed this by joining a heretical sect for 9 long years. He refused to listen to her, and she was so distraught she prayed and prayed and God gave her a dream that settled her heart, and then a mother’s faith checked in.

A short time after the dream Augustine came to Christ, and became one of the most significant church fathers of his generation! He was once lost, but then through a mother’s faith and love, he was found.

My mother was a believer for me too! She believed that the Lord would use me, even when I was wandering far from His ways, and she prayed and believed even when I had hurt her and when she was discouraged! Honour to her this Mother’s Day.

Lord Shaftesbury was correct in his famous utterance, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months.”

 

MUM, YOU’RE PRICELESS!

Let me finish by reading you the words of a Tammy Wynette song from 1974

My little girl came into the kitchen this evenin’,
While I was fixin’ supper,
And she handed me a piece of paper she’d been writin’ on,
And after wipin’ my hands on my apron,
I read it – and this is what it said:

 

For mowin’ the yard – five dollars,
And for makin’ my own bed this week – one dollar,
And for goin’ to the store – fifty cents,
An’ playin’ with little sister, while you went to the store – twenty-five cents,
Takin’ out the trash – one dollar,
Gettin’ a good report card – five dollars,
And for rakin’ the yard – two dollars,
Total owed – fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents.

Well, I looked at her standin’ there expectantly,
And a thousand mem’ries flashed through my mind,
So I picked up the pen, turnin’ the paper over,
This is what I wrote:

 

For the nine months I carried you,
Growin’ inside me – NO CHARGE,
For the nights I’ve sat up with you,
Doctored you, prayed for you – NO CHARGE,
For the toys, food and clothes.
And for wiping your nose, there’s NO CHARGE,
When you add it all up.
The full cost of my love is NO CHARGE.

 

Well, when she finished readin’,
She had great big old tears in her eyes,
And she looked up at me and said,
“Mama, I sure do love you.”
Then she took the pen,
And in great big letters,
She wrote: “PAID IN FULL.”

When you add it all up,
The cost of real love is – NO CHARGE

 

We can learn that lesson from Jesus. He laid His life down for you and for me, and the cost of real love was simply this… NO CHARGE.

You can’t buy salvation, and you can’t earn it. This Mother’s Day and every day, Jesus love and sacrifice is freely given… NO CHARGE.

Whether you are a mum today, or a child, you can have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour. It’s a gift, it’s at no charge, but it’s a life changing event.

 

Mums, you need Jesus to be the mother He’s called you to be.  And some of you children, you’ve broken you mum’s heart long enough! It’s time to ask Jesus into your life, it’s time to make your mother’s prayers be answered!

John 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

It’s Good Friday 2020, and because of isolation and lockdown, we are having church online.  Come and join us for a great message this Good Friday…

See you on zoom for virtual fellowship afterwards.

Easter 2020 will be remembered based around the worldwide scourge we are facing of the corona virus. For the first time in centuries Christians are not able to meet together the celebrate Good Friday, but through e wonder of modern media, we can still meet.

 

For years we have said the church isn’t a building, it’s the people, and now praise God we have the chance to prove it! Today we can meet in virtual space using our devices, but that first Easter there was nothing virtual at all about what Jesus set out to do on the cross.

 

Today is Good Friday, and even if you are physically alone and isolated, it doesn’t make Good Friday any less good, and it doesn’t lesson the love Jesus has for you, or what He did so long ago for you. So let’s get straight to looking at the cross, which is more than just a symbol.

 

Paul said,

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

THE MOTIVE FOR THE CROSS

 

Why the cross? Why do we even need the cross? It all starts with love, and God loves you so much. His love for you motivates what we will study today. Yet mankind has rejected God and pursued their own desires. People are basically selfish… They put themselves first, as we have seen in this pandemic with the run on toilet paper.

 

Rejecting God’s claim on our lives is called sin. Sin isn’t just doing bad things, it’s not giving God His rightful place in our lives, and we all do it.

 

Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

All of us, you, me, everybody. The penalty is death…

 

Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Not just physical death, the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in hell. We all deserve hell, but this is where God’s motive comes in… He sent His Son to die in our place, instead of us.

 

Why? Because He loves you.

 

THE MISSION OF THE CROSS

 

Jesus was a man in a mission.

 

Philippians 2:5-8

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

 

Jesus is God, yet He chose to give that up and come to earth as a humble man, being obedient by going to die on the cross. He gave up the riches of Heaven to come to earth and die in our place.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

I should have been hanging on that cross, you should have been. But He chose to substitute Himself for us, to give His life for ours. He experienced what we should have to give us what we never deserved… the chance to be right with God, and have eternal life.

 

THE ROAD TO THE CROSS

 

So Jesus decided to come to earth and live a perfect life, with the expressed purpose of giving it up for you and me. He loves us so much!

 

The road to the cross was an exceptionally hard one. He was betrayed by a close friend. Some of you here have experienced that, where a supposed friend has let you down or betrayed you. Jesus understands because it happened to Him.

 

He was then unjustly accused, and unjustly convicted. Many of you have been unjustly accused of something you have not done, and He understands that too because that is exactly what happened to Him.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

He was whipped, beaten, spat upon and mocked by cruel soldiers.  They placed a crown of thorns on His head, with thorns longer than a man’s fingers, and mocked Him, driving those spikes into His head with blow after blow. They tore the beard from His face? They mocked and beat Him.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

God was spat upon and abused by puny man! Jesus could have stopped the abuse at any time, but He chose to remain silent. He had the power, but He didn’t have the purpose because His purpose was far greater.

 

So Jesus was beaten to within an inch of His life. The Bible says His back was like a plowed field. The Romans had refined cruelty and pain to the point of science. They called such a whipping the halfway death, and for a whip they used a cat of nine tails, with stone, bone and bits of metal embedded into the leather. When they struck the sharp objects would embed into His back, being torn as they were pulled away.

 

Unbelievable pain, that He could have stopped at any moment… but He chose not to.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

Matthew 27:30-31

And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

 

Jesus was not a weakling, He was a strong and fit man. He had walked for miles in His ministry without effort. They placed the cross beam on His shoulders, and because of the beating He struggled to carry it. As the soldiers drove Him down the via de la rose, the way of sorrows, Jesus collapsed. Matthews 27:32 says they compelled a man from Cyrene to carry His cross. Most likely he was a black man. Scriptures record that a black man helped Jesus in His need.

 

And so they led Him to the cross. We put crosses on churches, around our necks and write songs about the cross, but nothing can convey the horror of that place.

 

THE AGONY OF THE CROSS

 

And so they came to the place of the Skull, or Golgotha, and it was there that they crucified Jesus. The cross wasn’t really on a hill faraway, it was the base of that hill, on a well used road which today is an Arab bus stop.

 

They laid the cross member down and secured it to the rest of the cross. They then held out His quivering hands and drove massive nails, much like what they secure railway sleepers with, through His wrist. If they went through His hands the flesh would tear, but through His wrists and ankles the body would be pinned in agony to the cross. They they raised it up and dropped it into the socket in the ground. Imagine the jarring pain!

 

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

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

The cross wasn’t high at all, it was more or less just above eye level. People could almost look straight into the eyes of Jesus as He hung there in agony. People passing by mocked and insulted Him…

 

Matthew 27:42

“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

 

The soldiers offered Him wine mixed with gall, a pain killing drug, but Jesus even in intense agony refused the drugs. He could have dulled the pain, but He chose to bear it all for us.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

The cross was an almost perfect instrument of torture. On the cross you die of suffocation. Jesus pushed His body up on the spikes, but the unbelievable pain drove Him into unconsciousness. He then slumped collapsing His lungs, but the need for oxygen revived Him and made Him push up again despite the unbearable pain to breathe.

 

The Latin or Roman word for crucifixion is CRUCIERE, from which we get the English word, excruciating, meaning intense, unbearable pain. Jesus suffered for 3 hours in this excruciating pain under the intense heat of a Palestinian sun before God said enough, and covered the world in a supernatural darkness.

 

Jesus continued to suffer for another 3 hours in ways we cannot begin to understand. He could have stopped the pain at any point, but He chose not to.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

THE CLIMAX OF THE CROSS

 

After 6 tortuous, agonising hours,

Matthew 27:46

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

 

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

 

At that point God turned away from His beloved Son. In those moments a holy God, who will not look upon sin, saw your sin and my sin upon the shoulders of Jesus, and He rejected His only Son. At that moment Jesus took our sin upon Himself and the Father rejected Him instead of us, opening the way for us to stand sinless before Him.

 

Then it says this…

Matthew 27:50

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

 

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

 

Why? Because He loves us.

 

They took His body down from the cross and buried it in a fresh tomb.

 

THE RESPONSE TO THE CROSS

 

There were 3 soldiers crucifying Jesus that day, and I’m sure they had several reactions.

 

One was a materialist. The Bible says they gambled for Jesus’ cloak. It was a rabbis coat, all one piece, the only seams were around the arms. It was valuable. This soldier just got what he wanted, a good coat, nothing more.

 

The second was a soldier who thrust his sword into the heart of Jesus, and ripped it out, causing a flow of blood and water, showing Jesus was truly dead. His experience was one of hatred and anger towards Jesus. Some of you here might be angry that God hasn’t done what you wanted. Thus man trampled the blood, the precious blood of Jesus underfoot.

 

Today across out nation people will be thinking about a day off, about hot cross buns and Easter eggs , and tread with contempt the precious blood of Jesus into the red soil.

 

The third man was a centurion. A leader…

 

Mark 15:39

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 

YOUR RESPONSE TO THE CROSS

 

What are you going to say this morning to this One who died for you? Are you out to get as much as you can from Him? Are you angry or upset at Him, or even ignoring Him? Don’t tread His blood underfoot this morning. Why not be like the centurion, why not truly acknowledge and believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be… the Son of God, who died for your sin, and who paid the price to win you eternal life.

 

Why? Because He loves us.

 

This morning we concentrate on the cross, but join us again on Sunday when we are going to look at the triumph of Resurrection.

 

When you consider the cross, how will you respond this Good Friday. Get right with Him, and make this Good Friday the best Friday.

 

Maybe you’re isolated right now so that in the silence and loneliness of this moment you can stop and do business alone with God. There are no people around you, no church building, no friends… It’s just you and the One who dies for you. Take time now, look Him in the eyes. How will you respond?

 

This year more than ever before we are embroiled in a climate of fear. It’s time to nail your fears to the cross.  I can’t remember so much fear among normally calm and rational people.

 

Write down your greatest ear right now, and we are going to pray, give it to Jesus, the share communion together.

 

And if you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, it’s time to do it. Right now!

The Christmas Truce

On this day I want to speak about the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Luke 2:10-14 (ESV Strong’s)

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

“Glory to God in the highest,

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

Ever since those words were spoken, and also long before, mankind has searched for peace. At Christmas, people always speak about peace, yet according to the NY Times, in the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for only 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. Today, as people around the world speak of peace, 828 armed conflicts are currently raging in 69 countries around the world, almost all of them driven by a religion calling itself peace!

 

So this Christmas Day, I want to remind you that real peace, forever peace, peace that passes all understanding is possible, but you will never find it in mankind’s government, or the media’s latest philosophy, or the good intentions of men. We need a Christmas Truce.

 

That first Christmas the angel promised peace on earth, not to all men, but to all men with whom God is pleased, that is those who know Him and honour Him.

 

Yet sometimes, in an ocean of conflict, madness and destruction God shines a tiny candle of peace that speaks of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. So today I want to share the story with you of one such ray of hope in the midst of a world of nan made death and destruction.

 

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE

It’s December 1914, and the Great War has been raging for 8 months. In that time the German army swept through Belgium, and drove on towards Paris, but were repelled by a combined French army and British Expeditionary Force in the battle of Aisne. At that point in northern France and Belgium the war deteriorated into a static war, with trenches stretching from Belgium to Switzerland.

 

The men from both sides who had earlier joined up and marched to war so  confident of victory and being home by Christmas now faced a Christmas in the waterlogged, freezing trenches, gazing fearfully across no man’s land at the enemy.

 

They were shelled, machine gunned and fought not only the enemy, but also the cold and the lice and rats. They were lonely, afraid, freezing, miserable… what kind of Christmas is this? But the Christmas Truce was coming!

 

In the Ypres sector of the Western front in Belgium, British forces from the Northumberland Hussars 7th Division stood guard on the parapet overlooking no man’s land. And as the sound of guns and artillery faded away that Christmas Day, it was replaced by this sound coming from the German lines beyond the wire ….

 

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht

Alles schläft; einsam wacht

Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.

Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh

 

A few British soldiers raised their heads above the parapet, listening to a language they did not understand but a tune they did recognise, hearing an enemy they had been told were devils intent on conquering the world, sing praises to the same Saviour they worshipped.  They noticed that the Germans had set candles on the top of their trenches, and in a few makeshift Christmas trees they had fashioned from a few battered branches left after shelling.

 

And something broke in their spirit. A longing rose up in their hearts that on this of all days, they might find a moment of peace in a mad world of carnage. Both sides began to shout Christmas greeting to each other, and they stood at their posts, cold, wet and tense, wondering what would come next. In the Christmas Truce.

 

Further down the line in the French sector the experience was similar.

 

As the guns and shelling began to fall silent, as the French soldiers stood damp and miserable in their trenches, they too heard the sound of Christmas carols and hymns drifting across no man’s land from the German trenches.

 

Then one lone French voice began its refrain…

 

Douce nuit, sainte nuit !

Dans les cieux ! L’astre luit.

 

Then one by one others took up the refrain…

 

Le mystère / annoncé / s’accomplit

Cet enfant sur la paille/ endormi,

C’est l’amour infini !

C’est l’amour infini !

 

Then a German soldier quietly, fearfully, climbed to the top of the trench, waving is arms to show he had no weapon, and he called out to the French men.

 

Others join him on the top of the trench, and French soldiers climbed from their trench, and both sides began to take terrifying steps into no man’s land, calling

 

Frohe Weihnachten Franzose

And Joyeux Noël, Fritz!

The Christmas Truce had begun.

Back in Ypres, the British soldiers also cautiously made their way to the middle of the shell torn, blood soaked quagmire between the trenches. The Germans got out of their trenches, both sides fearful that the magic of this fragile moment would be shattered by the sound of a bullet or shell. They met met in the middle. They began to speak to each other, although they could not understand properly. But with hand gestures and impromptu presents of cigarettes and chocolate and alcohol, they laughed and sang hymns together.

 

As some soldiers buried the many dead, others talked quietly and smoked, and then one produced a football, and they started to play. Reports suggest that the Germans beat the British 3-2.

 

All along the line, men swapped stories, showed photographs of their families, and shared cigarettes and Christmas cheer. The men, as the Generals later described it, “fraternised with the enemy”.

 

But for a moment or two in the midst of horror, death and war, a ray of hope and peace shone through as together enemies celebrated the birth of the Saviour in the Christmas Truce.

 

And the British soldiers, having heard their enemy sing glory to God in the highest, began to lift their voices and sing too…

 

Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright

‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace.

 

The following year this scene would not be repeated. The generals did not want the soldiers seeing each other as human beings, with families and children and a sense of humour. They issued orders against such friendliness, and tried to demonise the enemy.

 

But for that first year of war, peace reigned for a few moments.  Then, as that most extraordinary day drew to a close, the men reluctantly returned to their trenches, and the mud, and the lice and the wet and the war.

 

In the midst of the hatred of the Great War, the significance of that tiny baby born in Bethlehem, of that wonderful gift so freely given by God to win back the souls of men and women, was truly felt in that Christmas Truce.

 

Those men experienced peace for a day, and this Christmas 105 years later Jesus is offering you true, inner peace, a peace that lasts not only for a day but for eternity. That little baby was God Almighty, come to earth, humbling Himself and opening the door for you to experience peace with God, with each other and peace in every area of your life.

 

And that’s His gift to you this Christmas. Our world is a mess, standards and behaviour in our society are falling apart, your family might be tense or self destructing, but today God is offering you the peace that passes all understanding.

 

Remember the verse we started with, where the angel says,

 

“Glory to God in the highest,

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

 

That’s the formula for peace. It starts with giving glory to God in the highest. You may have ignored Him, neglected Him, even been angry at Him all year, or even years, but on this day of all days, maybe you need to start giving Him the glory and honour He deserves.

 

Then the next step towards that peace the angels promised is to become one of those, with whom He is well pleased.

 

And what would please Him most is you for to accept Jesus right now as your Lord and Saviour. Your sin has you destined for hell, but Jesus came as a baby that first Christmas, He grew into a man, and then chose to lay His life down for you, to die in your place and give you the peace you’ve dreamed of.

 

I don’t want you to leave this place without the peace God offers you. It’s time for the Christmas Truce again!

 

The Bible says,

 

John 3:16-17 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

He loves you so much, so what’s stopping you opening your heart and receiving His Christmas gift to you this morning?

 

It’s time to trust in Jesus.

 

Jesus loves me

 

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

 

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

 

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

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.

 

Father’s Day 2019

I was just at the Father of the Year announcement, for Father’s Day 2019, and one of the things that struck me is that families across our great nation are in disarray, and for most people the word Father carries with it not peace, acceptance and care,  but harshness, fear and disconnectedness.

Now I had a great dad. And I hope you did too, but the fact is many of us have not had stellar fathers. Probably the biggest complaint is not that they were bad or evil, but just that they were distant, disinterested or disconnected and that they never seemed to convey unconditional love.

And these are all characterisations that our society feeds into, because dads are mostly absent, working hard for the family, and generally not as directly involved as mums. No wonder so many people feel remember their father as absent, a harsh disciplinarian or a disinterested bystander to their lives.

 

I’m sure on Father’s Day 2019 many have mixed emotions, perhaps a little like Luke Skywalker, who after so many movies fighting Darth Vader, he suddenly hears Vader say, “Luke, I am your father.”

 

You don’t get to choose your father, good or bad, you just get him when he begets you.  You had no influence over what he did for a living, how he treated people, the hang ups he had, the upbringing he had, the things he did to you, the influences he tried to bring into your life.

 

Yet with the inadequacies of human fatherhood, God still chooses to reveal His heart as that of a father, the perfect loving, perfectly accepting father most of us never had! And the Bible says that there is a blessing in honouring both your mum and your dad, regardless of how good, bad or ugly they may have seemed.

 

Ephesians 6:2

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),

 

 

If you feel like there is a barrier between you and your father on Father’s Day 2019, be he alive or dead, then this Father’s Day is the day to remove that barrier and deepen your love for him again.

 

LOVING AN IMPERFECT FATHER

 

When my girls were young, they each told me they would like to marry me. I took that as a huge compliment because in their childlike innocence it told me they trusted and loved me.  Yet I assure you I am far from perfect as a father.

 

The reality is that you may not feel overwhelming love towards your father, and your confidence in him may have taken a battering at times, so I want to share steps as to how you can fall in love with your father this Father’s Day all over again. For some of you, this might make you mad, but please hear me out, because there is a blessing in loving your father, no matter how imperfect he is. So what does loving your dad involve?

 

 

1.      LOVING YOUR DAD MEANS ACCEPTANCE

 

Your dad loves you, despite what he may have said or done in the past. But or course, he is not perfect, probably far from it. Things is, last I looked, neither are you!

 

Romans 3:23

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

 

You cannot be perfect and neither can your dad,  but because God loves and accepts us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, we need to be accepting of others, warts and all…

Romans 15:7 (NIV-WS)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

 

Loving your dad on Father’s Day 2019 means accepting him, as good, bad or ugly as he may have been, and this brings praise to God.

 

2.      LOVING YOUR DAD MEANS FORGIVENESS

 

Loving someone means forgiving them, even if they have hurt you, even if they have rejected you. So many people I meet hold onto the pain and mistreatment they feel that have received at the hand of their father, but holding on to us forgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the other guy dies! Jesus said,

 

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins

 

If you don’t forgive someone, then like it or not they have power over you, and you are hurting yourself. That’s why Jesus implores is to forgive, especially those who should be closest to us, who should have loved us, who should have known better. Loving someone means forgiving them, and this could be the greatest gift this Father’s Day 2019.

 

3.      LOVING YOUR DAD DOES NOT MEAN AGREEMENT

 

Some people feel that if they forgive another person they are actually agreeing with the wrong that has been done towards them. That’s simply not true.

 

Forgiveness does not mean you agree with what’s been done to you, it means you’re released from the power of what’s been done to you.

 

Romans 6:14 (ESV Strong’s)

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

 

Listen, whatever you feel towards your dad for Father’s Day 2019, don’t give any sin he has committed power over your life by not forgiving him.

 

4.      LOVING YOUR DAD MEANS GIVING UP GETTING EVEN

 

When you forgive someone, you have to give up the right to get even!

 

Romans 12:19

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

 

Listen to how the message puts it…

 

Romans 12:19

Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

 

If you have been wronged by your father in the past, it’s time to act like Elsa and let it go! Do you want to feel justified in your anger at what he had done to you, or do you want to feel free? Give up the right to get even, don’t try and punish him, just forgive him. And if you’re a dad, give up the right to control your children, and just forgive them, whether you agree with them or not.

 

Loving your earthly father means forgiving him, just and Christ forgave you…

 

1 Peter 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

 

5.      LOVING YOUR DAD STARTS WITH A DECISION

 

You may be saying, well I don’t hate my dad, I kind of love him, but I’m not going to show him or tell him, because he never showed me.

 

You can make this Father’s Day the best one ever by simply making a decision. You can decide today to love your father, no matter what he’s said or done in the past. You can decide today to forgive him, and he may keep hurting you again and again, but you can keep making the decision to love him.

 

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 

I know it’s hard continuing to forgive, especially when someone has let you down over and over, but you need to decide to forgive, 7×70 times of necessary.  You can make a decision today the be the one who reaches out to your dad.

 

DADS, HOW CAN YOU LOVE YOUR KIDS ON FATHER’S DAY 2019?

 

And you fathers, how can you love your kids on this Father’s Day? Well, it all starts with a decision to show your children the same love God has shown you in accepting you, and forgiving you of your sin.

 

In our society, and possibly in your family, most people’s love is conditional. I love you because you’re so pretty, so successful, so talented. I love you if you do well in school, or if you win, if you’re well behaved. Dads, you need to recognise that this kind of love tells your children that your love for them depends on their performance. If they make you happy, you love them. If they don’t, you distance yourself and they feel rejected.

 

This is normal love in our society, but it’s not God’ love. I believe as fathers we have a higher calling when it comes to loving our kids.

 

Dads, the way to truly love your children is to love them unconditionally, what the Greeks call agape love, the highest form of love. If your love is guaranteed and without conditions, it becomes a constant in the life of your child,  life, whether they win, lose or draw in life, whether you agree with them or not.

 

My father, who passed away a few years ago, was a good example to me of such love. But the ultimate example of unconditional is God’s love for us.

 

I know if I let God down, if I hurt Him, if I’m selfish, His love for me is a constant. This gives me tremendous security in my relationship with Him, and dads, your children will experience the same level of security and peace in your love if you love them unconditionally, no matter what.

 

God’s unconditional love as a father is here for you today, no matter how inadequate your earthy father’s love was. God’s forgiving heart, His total acceptance and forgiveness is beautifully illustrated in perhaps my favourite parable.

 

A selfish son defies his father, takes his inheritance and squanders it in sinful living. When he finally blows the lot and comes to his senses, he is employed to feed pigs, and wishes he could eat their slop. He decides to return home, tail between his legs, hoping the aggrieved father would just take him on as a hired hand. Let’s pick up the story…

 

Luke 15:20-24 (ESV Strong’s)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 

The father, despite the son’s sinful, selfish actions, never stopped loving his son.  This father waited day after day for his son to turn back to him. He kept no record of the loss, he bore no grudge, he didn’t rehearse a suitable punishment, he waited, and was ready to rush out and accept his wayward child home. This is the heart of the father, because your Heavenly Father is perfect and He is ready to forgive you and accept you home this very day.

 

However strained your relationship with your earthly father, recognise that there is a perfect father in heaven with arms outstretched to you right now.

 

YOUR DADDY WANTS YOU HOME THIS FATHER’S DAY 2019!

 

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.

 

On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

 

And some of you are there right now. You have been hurt by your father, let down or feel pushed away. You might feel he’s been unavailable to you. You might feel him too harsh. You might feel like no matter what you do, you could never gain his approval. You’re looking like all those Pacos for love and forgiveness.

 

But your earthly father, whether good or not so good, can never be perfect like your Heavenly Father. Right now this Heavenly Father is searching the horizon, waiting, looking, longing for you to turn to Him. His arms are outstretched to you. He’s saying, “Your Daddy wants you home.”

 

You dads, maybe the Lord is telling you to reach out to that child you don’t feel connected to this Father’s Day 2019 and show them unconditional love. For some of you, maybe it’s time you reached out to your dad, forgave him and showed him unconditional love.  The Bible says this…

 

1 John 4:11 (NIV-WS)

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

You see, the true source of love is God, because

 

1 John 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

You probably feel it unlikely you could change your father’s opinions, or his ways, or if he’s dead, his legacy, but today don’t focus on what cannot change, here’s something you can change… I want you to focus on your Heavenly Father.

 

Romans 8:15 (ESV Strong’s)

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

Today. Cry out abba Father with me! This Father’s Day, I want to ask you to give the best gift ever to your Father… give your Father in Heaven your whole life.

 

 

Being a  super mum is the most underrated, underpaid and overtaxing job on the planet, and so today I do not want to just celebrate motherhood, I want to crown each of you mums as what you are… a Super-mum!

Mums become super-mums not by being born on the planet krypton, not by being able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. They become super-mums by the things they say and the things they do. So to start today’s super proceedings, let’s hear some of our mum’s super wisdom…

WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A SUPER MUM

 

Silence is golden, unless you have kids, then it’s suspicious!

Phyllis Dilla: I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford… then I want to move in with them!

Erma Bombeck: when your mother asks if you want a piece of advice, it’s a formality. Whatever you answer, you’re going to get it.

One mum said, My kids call it yelling when I raise my voice. I call it motivational speaking for selective listeners.

Another said, My nickname is mum. My real name is mum, mum, mum, mum!

Behind every mum is a basket of dirty laundry

My house isn’t messy, it’s custom designed by a 2 year old

By the time a woman realises her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong.

Another quote I found which is what you have to put up with as a mum sometimes… Benjamin Spock: there are only 2 things a child will share willingly. Communicable diseases and their mother’s age.

So that’s mother’s wisdom, let’s zero in now on a mother’s faith.

A SUPER MUM SUPER POWER

 

Everybody knows that a super mum has a super power is love, her undying, unconditional love. And this love generates a second super power… faith. If you look at Hebrews 11, the great chapter listing the heroes of the Bible, they are heroes because of their faith. Faith fuelled by love causes a super mum to do extraordinary things, to believe in you even when you fail, and to never stop believing in or wanting the best for you.

 

Scripture has many examples of faithful mums, mums who made a difference in the lives of their children and even the world in which they lived. Moses’ mum is one example, placing him in the little basket in the bulrushes, then becoming his nanny when Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him. Rahab, saved her family by her faith. Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah even Deborah, who was described as the mother of Israel and led her troops to a great victory over Sisera.

But today I want to show you one mother’s super power, recorded in Matthew 15, where the faith of a Canaanite woman saved and set her daughter free from demonic oppression.

The background to this passage is that Jews hated gentiles, and actually called them dogs! If you think right back to Joshua and Judges, these gentiles were the remnant of the evil nations that the conquering Israelites failed to dislodge. Jews considered them lower than a wombat’s basement.

Matthew 15:21-28

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Today, for you as a super mum’ I want to concentrate on developing this superpower of faith for the salvation of your children. I want to talk about developing your super power to reach a wayward husband, or child, or someone else you care about, with the love of God and the faith of a super mum.

We see in this story that the woman had plenty of obstacles, but she stood in the gap for her child. As I share around this passage, take a moment to think about someone you know in your family that isn’t walking with the Lord…

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH MADE HER TAKE A CHANCE

 

The Canaanite woman knew everything was against her, especially racially. She knew the social stigmas. Certainly her race was against her: She was a Gentile. Her sex was against her, because most Jewish rabbis paid little attention to women. It seemed that the disciples were against her, and even Christ’s words might have led her to believe that He was against her.

She could have stopped, she could have said, “ok, fair enough, I’m a dog,” she could have given up even before she started… oh, it’s all too hard!

But hey, it was her daughter we’re talking about here. She decided not to give up on her child, and neither should you! She decided to take a chance, a chance to set her beloved child free!

And sometimes we look at people we love who are not walking with the Lord and it all seems too hard! They’re doing things we don’t approve of, they’re making bad decisions, and we can see the consequences of their decisions barrelling down the line towards them,  but they won’t listen. They’re breaking our hearts. They might even been attacking us or pulling away from us!

Listen mums, this super mum took a chance, and I want to encourage you to do the same. Sure, our wayward kids may seem distant from us now, they may be ignoring our advice or rebelling, but the faith of a mother is worth much! This super mum’s faith won the day, so maybe today you need to take a chance and trust God for your kid’s salvation!

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH ASKED THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

 

This mother’s faith drove her to ask the question. Others may accuse you of being pushy or overbearing, but sometimes asking a simple question can make people think.

Sometimes even just a look will suffice. I remember being caught doing things as a kid, and mum didn’t even have to say anything, she’d just look, and I’d know she knew. Mums do that! Maybe the evil eye is another superpower… she can stop evil or curdle milk with just one look!

Trust me, guys, you can’t fool mum. Mother’s know, they have wider fields of view and eyes in the back of their heads. They see everything, hear everything and read between the lines well. And trust me. I’m married to a mother who is a psychotherapist, sometimes more psycho than therapist.

So this Canaanite mum called out to God and asked the question…

Matthew 15:22

And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

Speaking to Jesus, she addressed Him as the Lord, the Son of David, a title which only the Jews used in speaking of the Messiah. Although Jesus was the Son of David, a Gentile had no right to approach Him on that basis. That is why He did not answer her at first.

So she had no right to approach, but she did it anyway. And that’s the thing: a mother’s faith will push through and ask the tough questions, so mums, step up and ask God for your wayward children… you’ll be surprised at what God wants to do for you!

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH SUFFERED ATTACK

 

Listen ladies, if you step out and ask God, expect opposition. You might get it from your kids, you might get it from their dad, their partner, their friends, somebody. You will find your own feelings being attacked, times when you even doubt that God hears you. It might even come from people in the church who don’t believe with you. This super mum faced opposition…

Matthew 15:23-24

But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The disciples didn’t want her around, and she may have even thought Jesus wanted her gone. But she stayed! How many of you have a mother who stays long and doesn’t go. They love us, so they often stick around, despite opposition.

Super mum’s, when you face attack, react like this mother of faith did! He came and she said…

Matthew 15:25

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

And mums, I encourage you to just get real and honest with the Lord this morning. Today is Mother’s Day, and I sense the heart of God for faithful super mums right now. So get real, get honest and say with all your heart, “Lord help me.” I believe that the prayer of a mother’s faithfulness for her kids and grandkids is going to be answered by God.

And remember, motherhood is a tough job, and you face opposition all the time. If you want to be great, if you want to influence others, get ready for somebody to attack you!

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH WAS TESTED WITHOUT OFFENCE

 

Jesus then decided to probe her faith. Mums, your faith will be tested!

Matthew 15:26

And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Now it might sound a bit nasty, but in context Jesus wasn’t having a shot at her at all. A little bit of Hebrew understanding comes in handy here…

You have to remember, this super mum wasn’t a Jew, she was a gentile. The Jews looked upon the Gentiles as scavenging dogs, prowling the streets for scraps of food. However, Jesus here doesn’t use that particular word when He says dogs. Instead, He used the word for little pet puppies. He didn’t call her a rabid street dog or mangy mongrel, He called her a little puppy.  Jesus tasted her faith, but in a kind and gentle way.

The question was, “Would she take offence or acknowledge her unworthiness to receive the least of His mercies?”

One of the great tragedies I see over and over again is mum’s being hurt and taking offence. Super mum, listen to me, you need to not take offence at anything your kids say or do, even if you hate what they do! Use your superpowers to love them, pray for them, believe for them and claim them for Jesus. I’d rather be offended and see my kids saved than feel justified and have them silent and distant!

So often we believe things so strongly, so vehemently, that we drive away and offend others. As I often say, if you love people more than you love your pet doctrine, opinion of belief we will have unity. But if you value your opinion over people, we will have disunity, conflict and separation!

If they do something you don’t approve of, you need to love them unconditionally. If you stand so aggressively for what you believe and drive them away, you may never get them back. We’ve said to our kids, we may not approve of the decision you’ve made, but we will never stop loving and accepting you. We will never stop praying and believing for you… that’s our super power!

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH PERSISTED

 

This super mum could have taken offence, and crawled away insulted that Jesus spoke that way. But because her superpower was faith, she saw the big picture, she saw eternity rather than what was going on around her, and she decided to persist!

Matthew 15:27

She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

In these few words this super mum was humbling herself for the sake of her daughter. She persisted and believe the best because she loved her child more than her pet beliefs, her doctrine, her reputation or her own personal interests. This super mum wanted to see her child set free at any cost!

She said, in effect, “You are right! I am just st a little puppy under the table. But I notice that crumbs sometimes fall from the table to the floor. Won’t You let me have some crumbs? I am not worthy that You should heal my daughter, but I beg You to do it for one of Your undeserving creatures.”

Some of you mums here have prayed for years for your kids, and seen little result. Sometimes it seems so discouraging because they never seem to change, even into adulthood. Maybe they’re lost in a bad relationship or substance abuse, maybe they are good people but they’ve crowded God out of their lives and have no time for Him. Whatever they’ve done, whatever they are doing, don’t give up on them, don’t give in to despair, because your super power is Holy Spirit powered faith!

You can’t ultimately win someone to Jesus, no matter how strong or persistent you are. The Holy Spirit wins their hearts, not you. You can’t nag a wayward child or husband or friend or anyone else into the Kingdom. But, you can pray, and trust the Lord to use your super powered faith to bring your kids to Him!

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast

Christian mums here today, you know that it’s the anointing that breaks the yoke (Isaiah 10:27), and for many of you this truth leads you to pray for your wayward kids or spouses, whether they are successful corporate CEOs or cellar dwelling drug addicts. I want to urge you today to keep praying.

Your super power is the faith God stirs up in your heart, and the closer you are to God, the greater this faith within you. So read His Word, pray, come to church, to Bible study, listen to worship music, and never, never give up on your kids, grandkids and even husbands or exes. I can’t change them, you can’t change them, but God can. You must persist, and have super mum faith.

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH WAS REWARDED

 

Jesus was so delighted with this super mum faith when she persisted, He commended her!

Matthew 15:28

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Jesus commended her for her great faith. While the unbelieving children, the Jews, had no hunger for the bread, here was a self-confessed “doggie” crying out for it. This super mum and her super faith was rewarded; her daughter was healed instantly. Interestingly Jesus never complimented the religious leaders or the disciples saying “Great is your faith”, only a gentile, despised woman.

And that, mums, is my challenge to you today. Whatever you are believing for with your family, partners, children or grandchildren, I believe that today is the day when you can stand and believe, and we want to stand with you. Today is your day, super mum!

On Mother’s Day, we are going to pray for your children and grandchildren. If you are a in church today just to make your mum happy, why not really make her dreams come true and her prayers be answered by asking Jesus into your heart right now.

 

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

 

Mum’s, today you might have got breakfast in bed, or lovely presents, something cute or special. Those gifts are precious, but they don’t last into eternity.

The greatest gift you could give your mum this Mother’s Day is to give your life to Jesus. She’s been praying for you, she’s been using her superpowers of faith and love because she wants you to join her in heaven. God gave us the greatest gift of His Son to bring us back to Him. This gift is free, it’s a gift, and it is here for you today, and will bless her on this special day.

In a moment, I’m going to ask all the mums to stand and come forward and let us pray for your wayward children, grandchildren or even husbands. Let’s join our faith together and believe for God to reward your super power of faith today! We’ve been praying a lot for our nation at this time, but it’s time we prayed for our children and families.

You may have been fighting for them in prayer for years, but I’m going to ask you to stand for them in faith, right here and right now, so let us stand together as a church and fight! If you as a mum have a child or grandchild on your heart and you are praying specifically for their salvation, I’m going to ask you to stand, come to the front and our elders will pray and believe with you for the greatest Mother’s Day gift of all… your kids coming to Jesus.

If you have other loved ones, husbands, wives, parents, let’s pray for their salvation too.

Christianity is a crutch, it’s a big fake and Christians are the biggest fools for believing something that clearly has no basis in fact… That’s what many unbelievers think about us. They think we’re deluded, they think we believe in fairy stories, so today, on Resurrection Sunday, my aim is to examine forensically the claims of Jesus’ resurrection and prove that Jesus lived, died and rose again as the Scriptures record beyond reasonable doubt!

A TWO THOUSAND YEAR OLD CRIME SCENE

The advent of modern forensic techniques have revolutionised the solving of crime, especially DNA, which can pin point an offended with overwhelming accuracy. If you watch Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, the FBI or any other collection of letters, you might be forgiven in thinking that DNA is the only way to prove a case. But even today forensic tools like circumstantial evidence, witness statements, blood, fibre, footprints, tyres and everything else are still important in proving a case in a court or law.

 

The cold case detective is a new breed, and he looks at cases without DNA or the other modern tools to solve a long past murder. Murders from 20, 40 or 50 years ago usually require special skills to solve, so this Resurrection Sunday we we will  take a cold case detective’s view of one of the greatest moments in history, and the moment upon which our faith stands… the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

 

Luke 24:4-8 (ESV Strong’s)

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words,

 

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM!

 

Trying to logically analyse a crime scene from 20 centuries ago, without DNA, without photographs and without physical proof, a cold case detective needs to rely upon two sources to establish the facts… 1. Established Reports, 2. Eye witnesses.

 

REPORTS OF JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS?

 

The first question to establish is whether Jesus existed at all, and if He actually died on the cross, and what proof we have for this happening. First, let’s look at the sources of the reports we have found…

 

1.      BIBLICAL AND NON BIBLICAL TEXTS

 

Romans 15:4 (ESV Strong’s)

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

 

Jesus’ death by Roman crucifixion is reported in 7 independent documents. 4 of these are secular, 3 of them are from The New Testament, the Bible. The Biblical account is from the 3 synoptic gospels which we will count as one source, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and also from the gospel of John and Paul’s epistles. The secular reports are from Jewish historian Josephus, Roman Tacitus, Mara-Bar Sarapian and Lucian Of Samosata.

 

Two of these, Tacitus and Lucian were extremely hostile toward Christianity, and have nothing to gain by reporting the death of Jesus on a cross, in fact they reported it by ridiculing it.

 

Historical analysis of these sources make it overwhelmingly probable that Jesus’ crucifixion is an actual event of history. It is statistically impossible for 7 independent sources to all make up the same story with such detail. Denial of Jesus’ crucifixion’s historicity entails that 7 sources fabricated the same lie independent of each other, and that is historically impossible. Using history and topical analysis, we can established the truth of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ beyond reasonable doubt.

 

There are 2 main methods of establishing the authenticity of ancient texts… 1. The oldest copy we have compared to the original writing date and 2. The number of manuscripts and their accuracy compared to each other. The New Testament passes both of these with flying colours, the oldest gospel we know of being John, written within 50 years of the original text (compared to the nearest account of Julius Caesar being 900 years removed from the original). And more than 15,000 copies existence of accounts of Jesus (compared to less than 50 for Julius Caesar).

 

2.      EYEWITNESSES

 

Any detective will tell you that eye witnesses are not the most reliable evidence,  but if you have several accounts lining up they can have great validity. In the gospels, we have 4 separate yet slightly different accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Misguided critics might point to slight variations in their accounts, but any cold case detective will tell you that having 4 identical accounts is only possible if the sources have directly colluded with each other.

 

John 21:24 (ESV Strong’s)

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

 

Even today, if 4 people witness a crime, their testimonies will, indeed must, be slightly different, because each person sees things from their particular angle. If the stories are identical, the detective knows they have been talking to each other and “getting their stories straight.”

 

So Biblical accounts, all slightly different because they are from people who saw the same event from their own perspective, married with external historical accounts mean that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is absolutely supported historically beyond reasonable doubt.

 

The Biblical texts describe the crucifixion in detail, and includes many details we can corroborate with other ancients texts which describe this process of execution. Even our English word for unbelievable, off the scale pain is excruciating, based on the Latin word for crucifixion.

 

THEORIES ABOUT CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

 

So we have established beyond reasonable doubt that the event of Jesus’ crucifixion happened, but let’s ask the question… was He resurrected? The Bible says that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and if you ask Him into your life today, your sin can be forgiven and you will receive eternal life in heaven with Him. But believers know that when Jesus was raised again to life, that is proof to all of us of the eternal life He promised, and it also unlocks His power to help us  live a life of victory. Christianity, my faith and your faith, hangs on the resurrection. As Paul says,

 

1 Corinthians 15:14,19 (ESV Strong’s)

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 

So establishing the validity of the resurrection is the core of Christianity, and the great thing is we can actually prove that Jesus was raised from the dead beyond any reasonable doubt.

 

Sherlock Holmes said, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” So let’s examine and knock out alternative theories of the resurrection…

 

THEORY 1: THE DISCIPLES STOLE JESUS’ BODY

 

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV Strong’s)

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

 

How probable is it that the disciples stole His body? Think about the facts we know… these scared men who had abandoned Jesus and denied Him just days earlier, roofied the wine the Romans soldiers guarding the tomb were drinking, and silently snuck past them as they slept. They then silently rolled back the stone covering Jesus’ grave, which was 4-6 feet in diameter, weighing 1.5-2 tons and was in a groove which made it easier to roll into place, and almost impossible to roll back. They then stole the body, snuck back past the guard and disappeared into the night.

 

This theory is beyond ridiculous, and totally unsupported by all known facts. The disciples were terrified, not courageous. A Roman guard would never drink on duty. We know from Acts 16:27 and Acts 27:42 that the penalty for losing a prisoner, even a dead one, was execution for the guards, not an all expenses paid holiday, so this theory is impossible to plausibly believe.

 

THEORY 2: JESUS SWOONED AND REVIVED

 

This theory suggests that Jesus did not really die in the cross but fainted or swooned, revived in the cool of the tomb and let Himself out. The problems with this theory are as follows…

 

1.      ROMANS KNEW HOW TO EXECUTE

 

Roman soldiers were experts in death. The likelihood that they misinterpreted a swoon or fainting for an actual death is a huge leap. They were trained in how to kill, and pretty much knew when the job was done.  The centurion saw Him die, and was impressed…

 

Mark 15:39 (ESV Strong’s)

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 

2.      CONCLUSIVE MEDICAL  PROOF OF DEATH

 

John 19:34 (ESV Strong’s)

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

 

At the crucifixion, the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the 2 thieves on either side of Jesus to hasten death by asphyxiation, but did not do this to Jesus (John 19:36), because they recognised He was already dead. Now, to confirm this, they thrust a spear into His side, causing a flow of blood and water.

 

This medical phenomenon is called pericardial effusion, and it occurs when the heart is so distressed it builds up fluid in the pericardial sack around the heart. The presence of both blood and water, not to mention having a spear thrust into your heart, positively confirms death, and cannot be construed as fainting.

 

3.      COULD JESUS HAVE REVIVED IN THE TOMB?

 

This theory goes on to suggest that Jesus only swooned, did not actually die, revived in the cool of the tomb, stripped off the tightly wound grave clothes, moved the 2 ton stone by Himself in His weakened condition, snuck past the guards and made off into the night.

 

Clearly this is absurd and impossible for any reasonable thinker to believe, and it cannot be proven on any level. If it takes 2 strong, healthy men to roll the stone into place, it would have to be roll uphill against the groove to be opened. Unless he is Superman, one half dead man has no hope of moving that stone, or even escaping the grave clothes, let alone being able to overpower trained Roman guards. Ludicrous!

 

THEORY 3: JESUS ACTUALLY DIED AND WAS RESURRECTED

 

We saw before, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Therefore, the only plausible theory that fits the known facts is that Jesus truly died, was buried in a fresh tomb, and then supernaturally resurrected.

 

John 11:25 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

This theory is supported by everything we know about Roman execution, by what medical people tell us concerning such a death, and it is supported by all known historical facts, including the weight of the stone, the Roman seal (and by the way, no one breaks a Roman seal under pain of death), and the actions of the guards. Quite simply, they wouldn’t fall asleep, and if they had, their reward would not be a holiday and a hush up, it would be their own execution.

 

But wait, there’s more…

 

POST MORTEM APPEARANCES

 

The Bible talks about many appearances Jesus made after His resurrection. He appeared to individuals, His disciples, several women, the ones walking to Emmaus, and up to 500 people at once, on at least 12 recorded occasions in Scripture. Paul writes,

 

1 Corinthians 15:6 (ESV Strong’s)

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep..

 

Here’s the thing… the writers could not fabricate or twist the events of the resurrection for their own ends if eye witnesses were still alive at the time of writing. Clearly, any surviving eye witness could dispute incorrect claims, yet no such a dispute is recorded anywhere, and so given the time frame of these early manuscripts, we can legitimately conclude that the resurrection and post mortem appearances happened as recorded in the Bible.

 

TRANSFORMED LIVES

 

Another key proof of the resurrection is the lives of the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection, and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

 

These disciples were scared, they had abandoned Jesus before His execution, and they were in hiding, meeting in an upper room, etc.

 

However, after Jesus appeared in His resurrected form, and after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, an incredible transformation occurred in these disciples. Not only were there amazing and supernatural signs, incredible preaching and the establishment of a world wide movement called Christianity, but the effects of this last even til today!

 

Of the 12 apostles minus Judas but including Matthais and Paul, only John died a natural death after years of imprisonment. All the rest died as martyrs, in every gruesome way imaginable, from being beaten and stoned to being crucified upside down, stabbed or boiled alive.

 

Men might seem to live for what they think is a lie, but they will not die for a lie, and certainly all of them will not die for what they believe is a lie. No, these people witnessed Christ’s resurrection, and chose to die knowing what they had witnessed, and that is was true.

 

CHECK THE STATS…

 

And while we are talking about proofs, what is the statistical probability that 8, just 8 of the 67 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ coming true in one person. Mathematician Prof Peter Stoner calculated that the probability of just 8 out of 67 prophecies in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the person of Jesus to be one in ten to the 21st power.  A DNA statistical match is one in 10 to the 12th power, so if you believe DNA as viable proof, don’t try and tell me that Jesus was who He said He was! Statistically you cannot deny that Jesus was who He claimed to be!

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

 

But after all the statistics and the facts, what about you? Any court of law in the country would accept the crucifixion, death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as proven beyond reasonable doubt. So what about you?

 

You cannot simply say, well I don’t believe it therefore it’s not true, because as Lee Strobel and others who have st out to disprove Jesus and the Bible discovered, there is overwhelming proof that Jesus is who He said He was… the Son of God, who die for your sin!

 

If you don’t want to accept Jesus, you need to realise that you are rejecting something based solidly in scientific and historical fact. So let me tell you why you are rejecting it. It’s not because you don’t believe it’s true, because anyone with an open mind can see it is, it’s because you don’t want to change. You think that becoming a Christian will stop you having what you think is fun living the life you’re living, but Jesus said,

 

John 10:10 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

The evidence is clear and undeniable… Jesus died on the cross for your sin, and He rose again to prove that you can have eternal life. All that remains is you you to say, yes, I accept Jesus and His free gift of eternal life. As Pilate asked the crowd at Jesus’ trial,

 

Mark 15:12 (ESV Strong’s)

what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?”

 

Or as Moses asked the people of God, and today I ask you,

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

Easter Sunday is the perfect day to choose life, to choose to come to Jesus and receive His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

 

Any for those who do know Jesus, today is the perfect day to recommit to Him and start living like you mean it! So many Christians believe Jesus died on the Friday, but they forget the power and life to the full of Sunday morning! So if you love Jesus, stop living your life in Saturday and step into the light and joy of true living that Jesus showed us on Sunday. If you do not have the joy of life in your life today, let’s change that right now!

 

Today we’ve seen proof beyond reasonable doubt, but how will you respond to that truth? Come on, lay your prejudice aside and believe the facts, and accept the free gift God is offering to you this day!