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, 7x70 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.

 

 

Super Mum on Mother's Day

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!

 

Christmas Play 2018

The Ignite Church Christmas Play for 2018 was a wonderful time for all concerned.

A Christmas Play with Meaning

Sam Byrne, the director of the Christmas play and Kath Hatchett the writer wanted to tell a story that is relevant as well as fun. And that's exactly what was served up on this Sunday.  Loads of fun, some great songs, wonderful singing, and a direct and challenging message.  OK, a few technical hassles, especially with sound, but hey, it's Christmas, let's get excited and concentrate on the positives!

Some come along and check out this year's play...

And we want to thank all who have been a part of a wonderful and exciting year at Ignite Church.  The unity and atmosphere around every church meeting have been phenomenal, and Ps Darin believes it is a tremendous privilege and honour to be sharing the spiritual journey with such awesome and godly people.

So have a great Christmas break and we will continue this incredible journey next year.

Remembrance Day Sermon 2018

This Remembrance Day Sermon is on the 11th hour of the 11th day, 2018. That is 100 years to the month, day, hour and Minute since the armistice was declared ending the fighting of the Great War, November 11, 1918.

Australia had almost half a million men enlist, from a population of less than 5 million at the time, so that is almost 10th of the entire population or nearly 40% of all eligible males between 18 and 44 enlisted to fight. For a small nation, the newest nation in the world at the time, our involvement was extraordinary, and the Australian casualty rate was the highest for any nation in the war at 64.8%.

The first British and Commonwealth soldier killed was Private John Parr on the 21st August, 1914 in Belgium, aged 17. The last allied soldier killed was American Sergeant Henry Gunther, ages 23, killed at one minute to 11 am on November the 11th, 1918. One minute before armistice took effect. In between was up to 40 million casualties, including 20 million killed, soldiers and civilians.

 

They called the First World War the war to end all wars, but little did they know that only 21 years later the world would be plunged into an even bigger war against evil and tyrannical foes.

 

The fact is, we will never know peace in this world because, as Jeremiah noted

 

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV Strong's)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

 

 

So to celebrate this Remembrance Day sermon, 100 years since that first armistice, I want to simply highlight the role our brave, young soldiers played in fulfilling history and Biblical prophecy in the war to end all wars.  The action I speak of took place in Palestine, far from the Western front, but prophetically speaking this was the front line. It is my prayer that as we remember, so we shall be inspired in this Remembrance Day sermon to stand and fight for our people in our generation against the tyranny and evil invading our culture.

 

THE WAY TO JERUSALEM

 

Jesus lamented and wept over the Holy City of Jerusalem…

 

Matthew 23:37 (ESV Strong's)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

 

He knew the pain and tragedy that this city would experience, and His Heart broke for the people.

 

Jerusalem has long been a city in conflict. Destroyed in AD 70 by the future Roman emperor Titus, it has changed hands many times, and for most of the last 1000 years it was under Muslim control.  In fact, the Islamic Ottoman Empire had ruler Jerusalem and Palestine for 400 years leading up to the First World War, which they entered on the German side.

 

Crusades, generals and empires came and went in that time, but still Jerusalem remained in Muslim hands. In 1917, British forces tried repeatedly to invade Palestine but were repelled by the strong and well entrenched garrison at Beersheba in southern Palestine. Jerusalem could only be liberated by opening up the road from Beersheba. By the time the Australian Light Horse arrived on the scene, the situation was dire. Several attacks on the city had failed. The light horsemen were low on water, and they knew that they must either take the heavily fortified town of Beersheba, or face a 14 hour trek back to their lines to get precious water.

 

So on the 31st of October 1917, a bunch of crazy Aussies stood poised to mount a suicidal frontal attack against overwhelming odds, which was destined to become the last great Calvary charge in history!

 

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT HORSEMEN!

 

800 young Aussies from the Light Horse lined up on their horses called Walers for a suicidal charge at the 4,500 Turkish entrenched in their fortified positions, some 6 km away in the town of Beersheba. Outnumbered nearly 6 to 1, and without artillery support, the first wave started at a trot, then opened to a gallop, as the Turks lobbed shells into their lines, killing many. But these young Aussies didn’t flinch in the face of attack, they opened up into a full gallop, emu plumes flying from their slouch hats.

 

The Turks began to panic, and in their panic found they could not lower the sights of their guns fast enough to target the oncoming Aussies, so the shells exploded harmlessly over their heads and behind them. The light horsemen screamed and charged on faster and faster as the Turkish machine guns were brought to bear. But again the charge was so bold and so fast and intense, the machine gunners in their panic could not lower their sights sufficiently also, so the bullets flew over the horsemen’s heads.

 

They hit the front trench and leapt it at a single bound, then did the same for the reserve trench and on into the streets of Beersheba, and by sundown the town was theirs! All of the 19 wells of the town had been mined and a German officer was starting to blow them. If he succeeded both the Australians and the entire town would die of thirst.  As the Lord smiled on our troops that day, he was able to only blow up 2, and 17 were preserved.

 

OUR BOYS DID THE IMPOSSIBLE

 

In typical Aussie fashion, one trooper was asked why he kept charging so fiercely towards Beersheba. He replied, “Beersheba… Some joker knocked off the second half of the sign… I thought we were charging towards beer!”

 

What 11 Crusades, what the genius of Napoleon and the might of the British army had failed to do, 800 fresh-faced Australian Light Horsemen had achieved, and the way was open to finally set Jerusalem free from Muslim domination. God used the smallest and youngest nation on earth to set His city free!

 

By the time the British and Australian troops approached Jerusalem, the Turks began to run in panic, almost without firing a shot. On December 17 1917 Jerusalem was freed from 400 years of Muslim occupation... Something worth writing a Remembrance Day sermon about!

 

Our boys stood in the face of overwhelming opposition and were used of God to change the course of world history! And of course, much of the 2nd light horse regiment was drawn from this very area… Woombye!

 

THE REMEMBRANCE DAY SERMON IS... NOW IT IS OUR TURN

 

Right now our nation is under attack. Never before have we seen such a concerted, insidious attack, that is targeting the very moral fabric of our nation. Make no mistake, what we see today is not tolerance and it’s not political change, it is an invasion by an enemy seeking to destroy and dominate our culture and our children!

 

Proverbs 14:34 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

While I am proud today to be an Australian for what our forefathers did, I am ashamed to be an Australian for what our politicians and media have done! We have to do more than write a Remembrance Day sermon!

 

As our society’s sin is piling up, and as we allow same-sex marriage, gender fluidity and worst of all, late-term abortions, we face a choice, church.  We can slip quietly into oblivion, keeping our mouths shut as we float along, keeping the peace, being tolerant of every minority group except Christians, being politically correct... Or we stand and fight.

 

Those 800 light horsemen could have turned back, they could have said its all too hard, they could have taken the easy way out. But they decided to take a chance, to make a stand, to mount a suicidal charge into the teeth of the Turkish guns, believing God was with them… and He was!

 

If we choose to fight, and pray, and believe for our nation, we do not stand alone, but our God stands with us, and the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world!

 

And fight we must, not just for the Lord, not just for our churches and our way of life,  not just for what is right or wrong, we must fight for our children, for future generations that face destruction because or our complacency!

 

IT’S TIME TO MAKE A STAND

 

This coming year you and I face a choice… to quietly tow society’s party line, to slink off and avoid criticism from our friends, or to stand and fight for what we believe in. It's time to live what this Remembrance Day sermon inspires.

 

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

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

 

We need to do this, church. We must mount up, face those spiritual guns, and stand and fight against every thought that is contrary to the Word of God.

 

We don’t use insults and mockery and accusations and threats, but we use divine weapons, the weapons with which we can win. We fight with weapons like prayer and faith and unity, love in the face of persecution, the truth in the face of lies, and choosing to honour and respect those who hate us, even when they continue to hate.  The 800 light horsemen fought with horse and gun and bayonet, but we fight with truth, and love and prayer... thats what a Remembrance Day sermon should emphasise.

 

So in this coming battle, do not be surprised at the venom of the attack, even from fellow Christians. Jesus said,

 

John 15:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

 

Those who love compromise won’t love us. But I for one am prepared to stand and fight for what I believe in, to fight for what is right, anywhere, and any time!  We cannot win our nation by hating more than they do…. Ours is the way of the Saviour, the way of truth in the face of bigotry, joy in the face of fear and above all love in the face of persecution.

 

In this Remembrance Day sermon I’m going to ask you to pause and reflect on our descendants fallen on far flung fields of battle over the last century, then I will pray. But as you reflect, think also of the fight ahead, and join me as I pray and commit to continuing the spiritual legacy of the Anzacs and those brave light horsemen. Let us face the next year with a firm resolve to fight the good fight shoulder to shoulder.

 

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them."

 

And what’s more, Lord, after this Remembrance Day sermon we promise to continue to serve and stand for our master in these dark days. We pledge to do play our part in the salvation of our nation, so heavily attacked in recent says. We stand together to say, “Enough!” Satan, we cast you out of our nation, our parliament and our society and we claim Australia, the nation divinely chosen to set Jerusalem free, as the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit!

 

Welcome to the war room, and like the movie, we fight on our knees. Let’s promise to pray for our nation!

Heart of the Father is what Father’s Day is about. This is a day when we honour our fathers, and let’s face it, father’s can be quite unique, with their own way of doing things, and their own brand of lame jokes.

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!

 

As father of the year this year, I was greatly honoured by my girls.  That they think so highly of me really touched my heart, and as I heard them describe me on camera, I wondered who they were talking about.

 

Since receiving this award, I have done a number of interviews on radio, and each time I am asked for my advice as a father. I answer this question in a profound way… that we father’s must love our children unconditionally!

 

1 John 3:1 (ESV Strong's)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.

 

We live in a world where fathers, like everybody else, love conditionally. Some of you have grown up with this, and understand it very well. Conditional love is love if, love because. I love you if you are obedient, I love you if you do well I’m your exams, or I love you because you’re so pretty, or so smart.

 

But the greatest love, the highest form of love is agape love, unconditional love. This love says I love you, no matter what. No matter what you do, or say, or achieve, or fail at, or become I love you and I will always love you. This is the kind of love the father has for us, it is the heart of the Father.

 

Many of us here do not really understand this love. You may have only ever experienced conditional love, love tied to how you perform or how you look. In conditional love, if you don’t perform up to the standard, as set by your parents, your partner, your kids or anyone else, the love is withheld.

 

Unconditional love has to be modeled on the ultimate Father’s love, God’s love for us. So let’s have a close look at God’s love for us, the heart of the Father as we examine a beautiful passage on the Fathers Heart…, and no other passage illustrates the heart of the Father like this one…

 

THE PRODIGAL… LOST AND FOUND

 

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.

 

You might remember, the brother wanted justice, he wanted this wayward brother punished for his sins. But the Father loves the boy unconditionally, and forgave his sins despite the cost, and welcomed him home.

 

 

1.      THE HEART OF THE FATHER IS GENEROUS

 

If this parable we see the father being generous with his sons. The heart of the Father is generous.  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 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.

 

I would lay my own life down before I would sacrifice any one of my girls. Yet our Heavenly Father generously chose to offer His one and only Son, the most precious thing He had, in exchange for us…

 

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.

 

 

Sometimes we feel like God is holding out on us, punishing us, withholding blessing from us, but the Bible teaches us that we serve a generous and loving God. The heart of the Father is always generous, always giving and far beyond our comprehension.  The heart of the Father is so big, and so generous that He gave His one and only Son to die in our place. In our daily life, we lose sight of how generous God really is…

 

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 abundantly generous!

 

2.      THE FATHER’S HEART IS NOT CONTROLLING

 

10 Rules for Dating my Daughter, from an overbearing dad…

  1. Get a job, and keep it
  2. Understand, I don’t like you
  3. Be home 30 Minutes early… If you’re not early, you’re late
  4. I’m everywhere, and I see everything
  5. She my princess not your conquest
  6. Break her heart and I break your legs
  7. I am a lie detector… don’t even try to lie to me
  8. I own a glock
  9. I don’t mind going back to jail
  10. The reality is, she will always love me more

 

 

The father in the parable gave his son his inheritance early, 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.” It was given unconditionally, and this takes courage as a parent!  Jesus said,

 

Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV Strong's)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (ie, have the same love as your Father in Heaven has) For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

 

God blesses all of us, without controlling us, even those who hate Him, because His love is unconditional.  That is the heart of the Father. Fathers, I urge you to show the same love to your children, even if they are in rebellion! Don’t get all religious on them, don’t kick them out or reject them, love and accept them, even if everything they are doing is against your beliefs. You don’t have to agree with them, just accept them. If you reject them, you cannot be a force to reach them.

 

One of our foster girls decided to turn into a boy, and she asked if I love her, and if I would agree with and support her. 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, the decisions they make are not your fault… it is their decisions. That being said, we are responsible to pray for our children’s salvation!

 

This father demonstrates unconditional love. He was generous and not controlling, and this led to…

 

3.     THE HEART OF THE FATHER 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.

 

The heart of the Father 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 love had it thrown back in his face! If you love someone it’s 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 saw it… until I became a father.

 

We are like the prodigal son when we walk away from our Heavenly Father. Some of you here have been breaking God’s heart for a long time. While you plunge into the life you choose to lead, you are plunging a dagger into the heart of people who love you, and especially God, who loves you and paid the price to buy you back from your foolish sin and lifestyle!

 

4.      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. Like so many of us, he just did what felt good. 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 you, or He sees His Son.

 

Right now, the heart of the Father is waiting for you. He waits for you to turn to Him…

 

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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 you 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, come to Jesus today. He waits patiently, with arms open, that's the heart of the Father.

 

5.      THE FATHER’S HEART IS 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 praying and looking out for him, asking God to bring his son home.

 

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, the heart of the 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.”

 

6.     THE HEART OF THE FATHER 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. That's the heart of the Father!

 

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 heart of the Father was ready to respond in love. 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 loved you today…

 

 

7.      THE FATHER’S HEART IS WELCOMING

 

The father’s heart is welcoming. When the son offered to just be a hired servant, the father lavished his love upon the wayward son. If you come to Jesus today, I believe He will lavish His love upon you in the same way!

 

1 John 3:1 (ESV Strong's)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

 

We don’t deserve such love, but the generous and unconditionally loving heart of the 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.

 

What a welcome! This is not what the dejected prodigal son expected. He expected at best a lukewarm welcome and a job, more or less the welcome his brother would have given him, just punishment for his behaviour… but the father had other ideas…

 

 

8.      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. Let's have the heart of the Father for them...

Mother's Day 2018

Mother’s Day was established in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson after years of campaigning by Mrs Anna Jarvis, and it has since been established around the world as a special day to honour mothers.

Becoming a mother is not the same as being a mother. 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!”

Being a mum or a dad is a tough job. But we ought to honour them, because this is the first commandment that comes with a direct promise…

 

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 I want to highlight motherhood and the awesome role mums play in our lives…

 

BEING A MOTHER- THE WORLD’S MOST UNDERPAID JOB

 

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… So check this out…

 

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 (laundry machine operator, janitor, van driver, computer operator, housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, chief executive officer, psychologist, and facilities manager) they would be paid $117,855.86 per annum. The largest piece of the pie came from overtime pay because a man works from 9 to 5, but a woman’s work is never done.

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

So mums, I hope you feel honoured by that amount of earning power. Maybe you can demand a raise at home!

But in the meantime, what does God call you to be when you become a mother?

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 are still doing this, while others have seen them grow into mature, and sometimes not so mature adults. Your mission in life was to grow your children, and “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

 

But you don’t know what you’re growing! If a farmer grows 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 you could be growing another mum, or a drug dealer or possibly even worse, a lawyer. You have no idea, right?

 

Yours is the great challenge, and the great joy of seeing potential realised. When a painter begins to put brush to canvas, and when a musician strums a few chords or sings a few notes, there is tremendous expectation. And when the masterpiece unfolds, or a beautiful song evolves, there is a great sense of accomplishment.

 

Mothers, you are growers and nurturers and you will see rewards as your children grow and mature.

 

2.      TEACHER

 

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.

 

Timothy was a great leader in the church, and he was brought to faith by the teaching and influence of his mother and grandmother. Teaching your children is an important job mothers have, and we are not talking about sewing or cooking here… mums need to teach their children about life, about love, about success and about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Mums, we honour you for the way you’ve taught us truths about life.

 

3.      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 or a broken heart, great mums are there to comfort you. Even if they felt their mums never comforted them, great mums still comfort those they love.

 

 

4.      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!

 

Proverbs 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

Mothers, whether you like it or not, tend to have advice on everything. Now we all know the kind of advice mothers give, but I want to share with you 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.

 

 

5.      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. It might be worldly wisdom from beneath, or it might be godly wisdom from above.

 

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.

— ERMA BOMBECK

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

 

6.      RELEASER

 

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 that it 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 releasers, and release them to the Lord. Samuel’s mother, 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.”

 

My mother did exactly this. As is typical of me, I was rushing ahead of time into the world at only 6 months, and the doctors told my mum that her waters had broken, and she needed to go home and that I would be born dead unless she remained perfectly still for 3 months. But that night God spoke to her audibly and told her that her womb was healed. When the doctor came in to his horror she was bouncing on the bed, and she told him God had healed her.

 

I was eventually born normally, and she dedicated my life to the service of God, and here I am!

 

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!

 

 

7.      PRAYER

 

A mother’s prayer has saved many a soul, so whatever you do, never give up on your children. 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.

 

Prayer of mothers protects their children, just like Mt Pinatubo in 1991 in the eruption, where mothers saved children by laying over them, so your prayers protect your children.

 

 

8.      BELIEVER- THE ROLE OF A MOTHER

 

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, whether you believe in you or not. They 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 in this room does.

 

So mothers, 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 it hurt and when she was discouraged!

 

HOW MUCH?

 

We said before that what mums do is worth $117,855 a year, but in reality it is worth far more than that. Here’s a poem I love, written by Harland Howard and once sung by Tammy Winette…

 

 

 

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.

 

MOTHERHOOD.. A TOUGH BUT POWERFUL GIG

 

So mums, we salute you today and recognise the tough job you have been doing selflessly.

 

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.”

 

Billy Graham said, “If we had more Christian mothers, we would have less delinquency, less immorality, less ungodliness, and fewer broken homes. Every mother owes it to her children to accept Christ as her personal Savior, so that she may be the influence for good in the lives of those whom Christ has graciously given to her.”

 

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 you should 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!

 

I asked the Lord for something special for mums today, something we could pray for you, something that would mean a lot in your life. I asked the Lord for a verse that would encourage every mother on this special day. Something that would say, “Hey mum, keep believing, don’t give up on your kids.. Your sacrifice and hard work will be rewarded.”

 

Mothers I would ask you to stand. Now, remain standing if you are tired and weary, because this is what the Lord has laid on my heart for you…

 

Isaiah 40:11 (ESV Strong's)

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

 

Some of you mums have been struggling, overwhelmed by life, fearful and worried for your kids. Maybe your children have been letting you down and breaking your heart, maybe you’ve been trying to juggle work, family, church and everything else. You’ve kept all the balls in the air, you’ve had your heart broken a time of two, but you haven’t given up. However, you get tired and weary and let me tell you that, right now, Jesus loves you and knows how you feel. His arms are outstretched to you and he says,

 

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

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

 

When you come to Him you don’t get a free pass, you don’t get everything for nothing. You still have burdens, you still face struggles, but the difference is it’s a yoke that fits. You can pull a far greater weight if your burden fits well, and nothing is rubbing or painful.

 

This morning, Mother’s Day, Jesus calls to all mums and say, “Come.” If you’re burdened, if you’re weary, if you’re fearful, come and let Jesus carry the burden for you.

 

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

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

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

 

We live seemingly in a world without hope.

 

HOPE DEFERRED

 

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

 

The Bible says,

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WHEN HOPE DIES

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Job 17:11,15

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

THE EMPTY TOMB, THE HOPE OF EASTER

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 15:17-20

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

The hope of Easter

 

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

 

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

 

HOPE IS ALIVE

 

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

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

 

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

Hebrews 10:23

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

Hebrews 6:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A.     ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BURDEN

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

B.      BRING YOUR BURDEN TO JESUS

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

C.      CONFESS DOUBT AS SIN

 

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

 

James 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

D.     DELIGHT IN THE LORD

 

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

 

Psalms 20:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

Psalms 37:4 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

E.      ETERNAL LIFE STARTS NOW- THE HOPE OF EASTER!

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Galatians 2:20 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DEATH IS DEAD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 15:55 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Missionary coming home

THE GREAT ESCAPE

 

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

 

Titus 1:2

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

 

And Billy Graham gave his Bible to Steve McQueen.

 

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

 

Titus 1:2

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

 

POWER TO LIVE RIGHT NOW!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Colossians 1:27

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

WHY DID WE NEED A GOOD FRIDAY?


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

1.      THE AGONY OF CHOICE

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

2.      THE AGONY OF BETRAYAL

 

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

 

Mark 14:18 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

3.      THE AGONY OF FALSE ACCUSATION

 

Have you ever been accused unjustly? Ever been misunderstood and someone takes things the wrong way and accuses you of something you never intended? Jesus understands... it is part of the agony of Easter!

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

4.      THE AGONY OF ATTACK

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

If you have suffered unjust attacks, have you been hurt by others… Then Jesus cares and understands... it is the agony of Easter.

 

 

5.      THE AGONY OF PERSEVERANCE

 

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

 

Luke 22:42 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

6.      THE AGONY OF CRUCIFIXION

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jesus underwent physical agony, excruciating physical agony for you.

 

7.      THE AGONY OF EASTER... SEPARATION FROM GOD

 

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

Matthew 27:46

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then it says this…

Matthew 27:50

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND TO THE AGONY OF EASTER?

 

Today we remember the agony of Easter Christ went through for you and me.

 

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

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

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

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Revelation 22:17 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Peter 5:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

Unity in the Home

Unity in the home is something we all long for, but even among Christians, it is not easy to obtain!


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

UNITY IN THE HOME AND THE ATTACK ON FAMILIES

 

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

 

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

 

The Lord has been showing me how unbelievably disruptive lack of unity in the home can be, within the church and within your family…

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Many of you have lived through relationship disunity in the past. Many have experienced divorce or separation, all of us have had a broken heart or two. Many are living without unity in the home right now, sometimes openly and sometimes behind closed doors. Unity will command God’s blessing, but disunity will kill a church, a business, a football team, a band, a club and especially a family.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

STEPS TO DIVIDE A HOUSE

 

Jesus said this…

 

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

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

 

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

 

1.      DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

2.      WANTING TO BE RIGHT

 

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

 

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

 

3.      CHOOSING BEING RIGHT OVER LOVE

 

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

 

John 13:34 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 6:7 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

4.      REACTING RATHER THAN RESPONDING

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

 

5.      HOLDING ON TO THE OFFENCE

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Paul’s advice is this…

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

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

 

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

 

6.      GOING COLD

 

If you choose to hold onto offence long enough, something within you and your relationship can die, along with unity in the home.

 

Jesus said to the church at Ephesus

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

 

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

 

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

 

1.      PRAY FOR PROTECTION AND UNITY IN THE HOME

 

Psalms 57:1 (ESV Strong's)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

2.      DRAW NEAR TO GOD

 

James 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

3.      GUARD YOUR MOUTH

 

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

 

James 3:5 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

How many of us have created havoc by the rash words we have spoken in anger? How many times have we, in anger or frustration, said things we regret?  Things that have destroyed unity in the home.

 

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

 

Proverbs 18:21 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

 

4.      OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION

 

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

 

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

 

Learn to speak, even if it is not your way, and learn to speak words that build up, not pull down. Words that promote unity in the home.

 

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

CHOOSE NOW

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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