The Christmas Truce

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

Luke 2:10-14 (ESV Strong’s)

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

“Glory to God in the highest,

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht

Alles schläft; einsam wacht

Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.

Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then one lone French voice began its refrain…

 

Douce nuit, sainte nuit !

Dans les cieux ! L’astre luit.

 

Then one by one others took up the refrain…

 

Le mystère / annoncé / s’accomplit

Cet enfant sur la paille/ endormi,

C’est l’amour infini !

C’est l’amour infini !

 

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

 

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

 

Frohe Weihnachten Franzose

And Joyeux Noël, Fritz!

The Christmas Truce had begun.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright

‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Glory to God in the highest,

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Bible says,

 

John 3:16-17 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

It’s time to trust in Jesus.

 

Jesus loves me

 

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

 

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

 

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

True Peace on Earth

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

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

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

 

Luke 2:9-14 (ESV Strong’s)

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

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

 

TRUE PEACE ON EARTH?

 

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

 

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

 

GLORY TO GOD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

PEACE AMONG THOSE WITH WHOM HE IS PLEASED

 

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

 

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

 

PEACE IN OUR TIME

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

THE MISSING TRUE PEACE OF THE PUZZLE

 

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

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

John 16:33 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

TRUE PEACE

 

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

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

Philippians 4:7 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1.      FOCUS ON GOD

 

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

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

DEMONSTRATION

 

2.      TRUST IN GOD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Romans 15:13 (NIV-WS)

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

 

3.      HIDE GOD’S WORD IN YOUR HEART

 

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

 

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

 

Psalms 119:165 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

WE WILL HAVE TRUE PEACE ONE DAY

 

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

 

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

 

Isaiah 65:24 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

(Isaiah 9:6)

 

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

 

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

 

ACCEPT THE PRINCE OF PEACE

 

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

 

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

 

Romans 5:1 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

No Jesus, No Peace… Know Jesus, Know Peace

 

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

 

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

 

Father’s Day 2019

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ephesians 6:2

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

 

 

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

 

LOVING AN IMPERFECT FATHER

 

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

 

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

 

 

1.      LOVING YOUR DAD MEANS ACCEPTANCE

 

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

 

Romans 3:23

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

 

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

Romans 15:7 (NIV-WS)

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

 

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

 

2.      LOVING YOUR DAD MEANS FORGIVENESS

 

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

 

Matthew 6:14-15

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

 

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

 

3.      LOVING YOUR DAD DOES NOT MEAN AGREEMENT

 

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

 

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

 

Romans 6:14 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

4.      LOVING YOUR DAD MEANS GIVING UP GETTING EVEN

 

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

 

Romans 12:19

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

 

Listen to how the message puts it…

 

Romans 12:19

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Peter 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

5.      LOVING YOUR DAD STARTS WITH A DECISION

 

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

 

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

 

Matthew 18:21-22

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Luke 15:20-24 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 John 4:11 (NIV-WS)

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

 

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

 

1 John 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

Romans 8:15 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A SUPER MUM

 

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

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

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

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

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

Behind every mum is a basket of dirty laundry

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

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

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

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

A SUPER MUM SUPER POWER

 

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

 

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

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

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

Matthew 15:21-28

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH ASKED THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

 

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

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

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

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

Matthew 15:22

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

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

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH SUFFERED ATTACK

 

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

Matthew 15:23-24

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

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

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

Matthew 15:25

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

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

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH WAS TESTED WITHOUT OFFENCE

 

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

Matthew 15:26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH PERSISTED

 

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

Matthew 15:27

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:8-9

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

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

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

 

  1. A MOTHER’S FAITH WAS REWARDED

 

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

Matthew 15:28

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

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

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

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

 

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A TWO THOUSAND YEAR OLD CRIME SCENE

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

 

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

 

Luke 24:4-8 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM!

 

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

 

REPORTS OF JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS?

 

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

 

1.      BIBLICAL AND NON BIBLICAL TEXTS

 

Romans 15:4 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

2.      EYEWITNESSES

 

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

 

John 21:24 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

THEORIES ABOUT CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 15:14,19 (ESV Strong’s)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

THEORY 1: THE DISCIPLES STOLE JESUS’ BODY

 

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

THEORY 2: JESUS SWOONED AND REVIVED

 

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

 

1.      ROMANS KNEW HOW TO EXECUTE

 

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

 

Mark 15:39 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

2.      CONCLUSIVE MEDICAL  PROOF OF DEATH

 

John 19:34 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

3.      COULD JESUS HAVE REVIVED IN THE TOMB?

 

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

 

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

 

THEORY 3: JESUS ACTUALLY DIED AND WAS RESURRECTED

 

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

 

John 11:25 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

But wait, there’s more…

 

POST MORTEM APPEARANCES

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 15:6 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

TRANSFORMED LIVES

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CHECK THE STATS…

 

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

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

John 10:10 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

Mark 15:12 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong’s)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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!