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.
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…
“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…
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.
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…
Get a job, and keep it
Understand, I don’t like you
Be home 30 Minutes early… If you’re not early, you’re late
I’m everywhere, and I see everything
She my princess not your conquest
Break her heart and I break your legs
I am a lie detector… don’t even try to lie to me
I own a glock
I don’t mind going back to jail
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…
‘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!
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 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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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…
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.
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!
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
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…
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!
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This morning I want to offer you the chance to experience life, and life to the full, life that starts now and never ceases. If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, pray this prayer with me…
If you have asked Jesus into your life, stop right now and have a look at that life. Are you living the life Jesus wants you to live? Is your life filled with joy and power and victory?
I want to offer you the opportunity to be filled with Jesus Christ’s resurrection power. If you are finding life a struggle or a slog, if you are not living with real power in your life, come to Jesus this morning and we will ask Him to fill you with the resurrection power of His Holy Spirit, to live the life He has destined for you!
The agony of Easter occurred on what we call Good Friday, where we remember the crucifixion. But what we call good was agony to Jesus, so today I want to examine the 7 agonies He chose to face, not because He wanted to, not because He gained anything personally, but because He loved us, and His mission was to save us from the agony of hell.
WHY DID WE NEED A GOOD FRIDAY?
God is holy. We are sinful. This places a barrier between us and God, a separation that nothing we can do or say can bridge. People think that if they do enough good in their lives so it outweighs the bad things we do, then we can get to heaven. Listen, you can be the nicest guy in the world, and when you die you’ll be the nicest guy in hell!
God knew, from before the foundation of the world, that all men are sinful. His holiness prevents Him from interacting with evil. He loves us. He wants to spend eternity with us, but He cannot do this by lowering the standard and accepting sin. If He did, heaven would be hell!
So God’s solution was to send His one and only Son to face the agony of Easter, a sinless, perfect Son, to pay the price of death that we should have paid.
John 3:16-17 (ESV Strong's)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Jesus was a man on a mission, to save all those who would accept it.
You might ask, if God is so loving, why doesn’t He save everyone. He opens the way for everyone to be saved, as the Bible says,
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
But some refuse to accept His free gift! They would rather live in rebellion to God than accept His free gift of eternal life. When Jesus hung in that cross, His died for all mankind, so this Good Friday, make sure that you are one of those that accepts Jesus free gift of eternal life!
The Latin or Roman word for crucifixion is CRUCIERE, from which we get the English word, excruciating, meaning intense, unbearable pain.
On the cross, Jesus suffered for 3 hours in this excruciating pain under the intense heat of a Palestinian sun before God said enough, and covered the world in a supernatural darkness. Jesus continued to suffer another 3 hours until He gave up His Spirit... the agony of Easter.
The cross is not about decorating the tops of churches, nor is it a cute symbol to place around your neck. When we as Christians look at the cross, we should understand and remember the unbearable agony Jesus faced to complete His mission.
This Good Friday, I want to share with you the 7 agonies of the cross.
People often say that their troubles in life are unique, and that God wouldn’t understand. Well, let me show you how and why Jesus understands what you face. One day in the life of Jesus. That first Good Friday, Jesus faced infinitely more than we could ever bear…
1. THE AGONY OF CHOICE
Have you ever felt the agony of choosing to give up something you cherish? Jesus understands.
Jesus is God. He is a servant, and a sacrifice, and a Saviour, and a Son, but He is also God. So right back at the beginning, Jesus faced a choice… to stay where He was, exalted and honoured, enjoying perfect fellowship with God the Father, while we were all of us lost to an eternity in hell, or He could choose to give it all up to offer us the salvation we desperately needed…
Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV Strong's)
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus faced the agony of Easter in choosing to leave His home in glory and be humbled, even to the point of letting puny man torture and crucify Him. Never think that nails held Jesus to the cross. He could have changed His mind at any time, but He chose not to.
Nails did not hold Him to the cross… love did, His choice to love and redeem you is what kept Him there. We don’t deserve such love, but Jesus chose to give it anyway, even though He knew some would reject it and throw it back in His face!
2. THE AGONY OF BETRAYAL
Have you ever been betrayed or let down by someone you love. Someone you trusted, someone you gave yourself to, someone you blessed and cared for… and thy betray you! Jesus understands.
Mark 14:18 (ESV Strong's)
And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”
Someone He loved, someone He served, someone He cared for and trusted and was eating with was about to betray Him, of all things with a kiss, a supposed sign of affection.
And of the rest of His friends, they all fled and let Him down when He most needed them. Peter even denied Him 3 times.
Jesus understands the agony or betrayal by friends and being forsaken and let down by those you trusted.
3. THE AGONY OF FALSE ACCUSATION
Have you ever been accused unjustly? Ever been misunderstood and someone takes things the wrong way and accuses you of something you never intended? Jesus understands... it is part of the agony of Easter!
Matthew 27:12-14 (ESV Strong's)
But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
If you have been attacked and falsely accused, the hardest thing is to not defend yourself. Yet Jesus did that, because as they mocked Him, hit Him, spat upon Him, tortured Him and dragged Him off to be murdered, He looked to God to vindicate Him… He didn’t try and argue His way out.
Jesus understands what it is like to be falsely accused or misunderstood.
4. THE AGONY OF ATTACK
Have you ever been attacked by others unprovoked, even though you have done nothing? Jesus understands.
Matthew 27:29-30 (ESV Strong's)
and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.
Elsewhere the Bible describes His back as being like a plowed field, ripped to pieces by the cat o nine tails, into which was sown pieces of metal and bone.
If you have suffered unjust attacks, have you been hurt by others… Then Jesus cares and understands... it is the agony of Easter.
5. THE AGONY OF PERSEVERANCE
Have you ever experienced the agony of having to persevere, even when it hurts or it is breaking your heart? Do you know what it’s like to not give up on someone or something, even when the pain hurts so badly? Jesus understands, because He prayed this in the garden of Gethsemane
Luke 22:42 (ESV Strong's)
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Sometimes we have to persevere and see something through, even when it hurts. Sometimes we must persevere with situations, with relationships and with people who hurt us. Jesus could have quit in us, but He never gave up on us. He will never give up on you. The Bible says He set His face like flint, determined to see His mission through because He loves you. No matter what you have done, He loves you, and His free gift of grace is here for you in the agony of Easter.
We experience pain. Physical pain, emotional and mental pain. But this is nothing compared to the excruciating pain Jesus chose to face in the agony of Easterfor you and me.
They laid the cross member down and secured it to the rest of the cross. They then held out His quivering hands and feet and drove massive nails, much like what they secure railway sleepers with, through His wrists and ankles. If they went through His hands the flesh would tear, but through His wrists and ankles the body would be pinned in agony to the cross.
Then they raised it up and dropped it into the socket in the ground. Imagine the jarring pain!
And there He hung in the agony of Easter. He could have called down a legion of angels to remove Him from the cross, but Jesus chose not to. He hung there in agony for you and me.
On the cross. You died of suffocation, which is why they later went to break the legs of the others on the crosses.
To draw breath into His lungs He had to lift Himself up on the nails, but then the pain drove Him into unconsciousness. He then fell, until the need for air revived Him, and this went on in an endless cycle of excruciating agony, until He chose the moment to die.
Jesus underwent physical agony, excruciating physical agony for you.
7. THE AGONY OF EASTER... SEPARATION FROM GOD
The greatest agony of Easter of all came at the end of the crucifixion. After 6 tortuous, agonising hours,
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
My God the Father, my God the Holy Spirit, why have you forsaken me?
At that point God turned away from His beloved Son. In those moments a holy God, who cannot even look upon sin, saw your sin and my sin piled upon the shoulders of Jesus, and He rejected His one and only Son. At that moment Jesus bore our sins instead of us, He stood in our place, and suffered separation from the Father instead of us, opening the way for us to stand sinless before Him.
Then it says this…
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
He slumped, dead on that cross. They ultimately didn't take His life, He yielded it. He could have stopped it at any time, but Jesus chose the time when He yielded His life and pain for your sin and my sin.
The greatest agony of Easter was being separate from God the Father. That is hell.
Why? He didn’t have to do this, but He did… Because He loves us.
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND TO THE AGONY OF EASTER?
Today we remember the agony of Easter Christ went through for you and me.
Isaiah 53:4-6 (ESV Strong's)
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
On Sunday we will talk about the joys and life of the resurrection of Christ, but today we focus on the agony of Easter and of the cross, the price Jesus paid to give us eternal life. It is free for all, but not all receive it…
When I look at the cross tells me is that whatever pain you have experience, whatever betrayal, heartache or burden you struggle with, Jesus not only relates and has experienced even more, but He has provided a way forward for you.
Today this Good Friday Jesus reminds you that He died for you. Truly He has earned the right to carry your pain and burdens, instead of you.
All it takes is a decision to accept His gift. Say yes today, say yes right now!
When you look at the cross, how will you respond this Good Friday. For the One who gave so much, what can you offer in return? Get right with Him, and make this Good Friday the best Friday. Today Jesus says come…
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Jesus is asking you to come, and you need to say, yes, Lord.
If you have never asked Jesus you’re your life, you can right now…choose to accept this wonderful gift.
And if you already know Him, it’s time to stop trying to live your life in your strength. So for now, I want you to think of what your greatest burden is right now, your greatest need, your greatest struggle.
It might be a sin, it could be a challenge. It might be a relationship gone wrong, a child who has turned away, a conflict at work.
Write it down, we are going to pray, give it to Jesus, then come forward.
1 Peter 5:7 (ESV Strong's)
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Unity in the home is something we all long for, but even among Christians, it is not easy to obtain!
This week we celebrated Valentines Day, and so I did some research into what this day is all about. The original Valentine was a Roman priest who defied an edict from Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor felt marriage was stopping his recruitment drive for his army, so he banned marriage, and Valentine continued to marry couples in secret.
When exposed he was captured, beaten and imprisoned, and while awaiting execution, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, to whom he wrote many love notes. On February 14, 270AD He was executed, having signed off his last note, Your Valentine. He gave his life for love and his belief in Christ, but he never wrote, “Roses are red, violets are blue.”
So today I had something else lined up to speak on, but I have felt the Lord strongly working on me to change the topic and speak not about Romantic love but about unity in the family, especially between husband and wife.
Please understand, I’m not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, but I sense I need to address the elephant in the room. We don’t talk about this often, and no one really knows what is happening behind closed doors at your house, but this is something we must not ignore. Probably the easiest way for the devil to destroy Ignite Christian Church and negate any effect we can have on the world for Christ is to destroy our families. And you know what it’s like… you might have had a fight last night, you might have thrown plates, said things you didn’t mean or screamed at the kids, but on Sunday we all paint on happy faces and turn up to Church. Don’t look so pious, we have all done it sometime, right?
UNITY IN THE HOME AND THE ATTACK ON FAMILIES
I believe that today, more than ever before we are seeing an attack on unity in the home and families. Values long held across all of society by all peoples in all cultures have been sacrificed to appease a tiny minority.
Maybe the same-sex marriage laws don’t affect you directly, maybe the so-called safer schools directives don’t concern you directly, but these and many other forces from parliament to divorce courts to songs to movies to Mardi Gras have chipped away at the family. Even in church our people are affected, our families are under threat like never before, and the divorce rate among Christians is as high as that among the world!
The Lord has been showing me how unbelievably disruptive lack of unity in the home can be, within the church and within your family…
Psalms 133:1,3 (ESV Strong's)
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
I believe that God doesn’t just suggest unity because it’s a good idea, or so you can get some peace and quiet. God crowns unity among people with the command of His blessing, life forevermore. If you want blessing in our church, be in unity. If you want blessing in your home and marriage, be in unity! Unity breeds blessing, just as disunity destroys it!
Many of you have lived through relationship disunity in the past. Many have experienced divorce or separation, all of us have had a broken heart or two. Many are living without unity in the home right now, sometimes openly and sometimes behind closed doors. Unity will command God’s blessing, but disunity will kill a church, a business, a football team, a band, a club and especially a family.
Satan loves attacking families because the results are high for him. He can take a small issue in your home, like putting out the garbage, what to buy or not buy, squeezing the toothpaste in the wrong spot or controlling the TV remote, and turn it into a mountain of misery for all concerned.
At Ignite we have tremendous unity, from the leadership right down. But this week the Lord spoke to me and said, hidden away below the surface there is disunity, not just between church members but within many families on a scale that would shock us if we actually knew.
Behind the Valentine Day façade, the flowers and chocolates, behind the happy family approach to Church I know that some of us here are hurting like crazy, and there is conflict bubbling away in our marriages and homes. Husband against wife, wife against husband, mother against daughter, father against son, brother against sister.
I know you come to church to feel better, not for the pastor to make you feel uncomfortable or horrible. For some of us, myself included, this is going to hurt a little bit, but the end result will be greater unity and a blessings that are off the charts! I cannot begin to solve every individual marriage problem or relationship difficulty in one sermon. But if the Lord has challenged me to speak on this, something we usually hush up when we come to church, then I want to be obedient and speak about unity in the home.
Let me confess to you that I am not a perfect husband. I don’t give Fiona nearly enough love, barely enough money and never enough time. I make decisions without her, I’m selfish, way too focussed and isolate myself at times. But I love her and believe that, as I yield to the Lord and let Him shape my life, we will see unity and great blessing in our home.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT
Let’s start by saying this…we are all different. Men are different to women, kids are different to parents. We think differently, we speak differently and we act differently.
When a man speaks he is direct… I speak, you listen, you speak, I listen. But a woman can be speaking and hear every other conversation in the room!
Men have this area of the brain called autopilot, and while they are looking at you speaking and appear to be listening, they are really thinking about the football score. Women can turn on the waterworks and cry, but men tend to stonewall, simmering in silence.
Men live in the now, often disregarding the consequences. Women live in multiple time zones, and everything you’ve every done in your relationship is carefully catalogued to be recalled when it is needed to win an argument.
What about kids? I mean, what’s the difference between a 2 year old and a terrorist? You can reason with a terrorist. I heard an eminent psychologist this week explain that there is actually very little difference between the behaviour of the average teenager and a psychopath. They sited lack of empathy for others, wanting their own way and defiance, in fact pretty much all the character traits of psychopaths bar killing small animals.
STEPS TO DIVIDE A HOUSE
Jesus said this…
Mark 3:24-25 (ESV Strong's)
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
So how does a house, any house such as a church or your home, become divided? Usually it starts with a difference of opinion, maybe on finances, maybe about disciplining kids, but it then escalates beyond proportion and beyond our control. Here are some of the steps to dividing your house, and Jesus says it will not stand…
1. DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
Disunity starts with a difference of opinion. And let’s face it, we all disagree at some time. My wife often disagrees with me, and it upsets me that she can be wrong so often!
One of the great plots of the evil one right now is to allow everybody to think that their opinion is actually important! Look at Facebook. Never before has so much ranting been done so excessively by so many with so little point. Years ago we felt like the little guys had no voice, but today it’s like every idiot with a smartphone can voice the most ridiculous ideas, anytime, anywhere. Opinions are like noses… everyone has one, and most of them smell!
So division, whether in church, business or your family, starts with a difference of opinion. It is not wrong to disagree or have an opposing opinion to your spouse, your child, friend or the pastor. It’s how we express this difference of opinion that makes all the difference!
Proverbs 18:2 (ESV Strong's)
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
2. WANTING TO BE RIGHT
Once during an argument my wife said, “When we argue, you always think you’re right…” I replied that that was true, because if I thought I was wrong I wouldn’t take up a contrary position.
We all want to be right, all the time. We all think we are right, most of the time.
3. CHOOSING BEING RIGHT OVER LOVE
While we want to be right, it should be more important that we love one another.
John 13:34 (ESV Strong's)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Whenever there is any conflict in the home, and it is inevitable there will be some, unless you live by yourself, and even then you might fight with yourself. When there is conflict or a difference of opinion, you face a choice… do you fight for what you believe is right, or do you show love and grace towards the other party.
Now you can love someone and disagree with them, so I am not asking you to become a doormat for love. However, as I often say in the church, you can disagree as long as you agree to disagree agreeably.
Disunity occurs when we choose that we want to be right more than we want to be reconciled. When Paul writes about lawsuits between believers he says this…
1 Corinthians 6:7 (ESV Strong's)
To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
In your home, in your marriage, in your relationships with kids and parents, why take offence? I’m not saying you should become a doormat, but many times we love being right more than we love the other party. I can believe I am right, but still treat you with respect and love if I choose to do so.
However, what often happens is that one party stands their ground and insists on being right while the other capitulates and gives in every time. If both of you love each other more than the argument unity is achievable.
4. REACTING RATHER THAN RESPONDING
So many of us react rather than respond, which can kill unity in the home. When we don’t like things, when we have a disagreement, when we feel hurt or overlooked or persecuted, we often tend to have a knee-jerk reaction (which could be shortened to a jerk reaction, as in being a jerk!)
The knee-jerk response is a measurement by doctors of our traction time. It involves a nervous reflex which does not involve the brain, so you make this reaction without conscious thought.
As a general rule, when you feel offended, the first reaction is usually neither productive nor the one you want. If, every time you faced conflict, you came apart for half an hour before responding, you would find that both sides will tend to make a more rational, more controlled and more balanced approach.
If you respond rather react you will preserve unity far better than if you explode as soon as you’re offended or not happy. Works with the kids, the wife, the dog, the boss and the pastor!
Proverbs 19:11 (ESV Strong's)
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.
5. HOLDING ON TO THE OFFENCE
And here is the clincher for ruining unity in the home. If you want to ruin your family, ruin your church or anything else, never let go of offence. Jesus instructs us…
Luke 17:3-4 (ESV Strong's)
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Why should you forgive them so many times? Does Jesus care if you’re right? I mean, I some men say, married a woman I knew that for me was Miss right, I just didn’t realise her first name was always!
Jesus commands you to forgive the other’s offence because if you don’t do this, it hurts you far more than it hurts them! It’s like you drinking poison hoping the other guy dies.
I have branches of my extended family who haven’t spoken to each other for years. I know of Christians who have been to church every week with people that they haven’t spoken to for years. Holding onto offence never ends well. If you have long term issues with your spouse or kids, pray, swallow your need to be right no matter what and forgive them. Forgiveness creates unity in the home.
Paul’s advice is this…
Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV Strong's)
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
You may not be able to settle every argument on the day, although it is a good things to aim at, but what Paul says is don’t hold onto it. The longer you remain angry, the more damage you will do, to your relationship and also to yourself. You are better off giving it to the Lord and letting Him sort it than hanging on, feeling self justified but miserable and alienated.
6. GOING COLD
If you choose to hold onto offence long enough, something within you and your relationship can die, along with unity in the home.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.
The church at Ephesus were doing all the right things, looked pious and godly on the surface, but had lost that first love, that sense of wonder that we all have when we fall in love.
So, husbands and wives, do not forsake your first love. When you have conflict or disharmony, it is tempting to focus on the disharmony, but most often the current issue is never the real issue. We tend to sweep it up and shovel it under the bed, then gloss it over and come to church. But I would urge you to look back and regain your first love. I am not talking about gooey feelings here, but the commitment you once had.
When you first stood before the altar and said your wedding vows, remember that. When you first held that little baby in your arms, the same one who has grown up and you’re now fighting with, remember that first love.
Going cold towards the other person, giving them the cold shoulder or the silent treatment does not solve the problem. You need honest, open and frank discussion, without threats, screaming or cursing. If you have a conflict with your kids, sit them down and talk about it. If it’s between spouses, find a time to sit with a coffee and share openly and honestly.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
The fact is, if you are struggling in your marriage or family relationships you are not the only ones. This is happening right across society and I believe especially in the church. The enemy is attacking. The best way to destroy the ministry of a church is to destroy the families within it. You may not feel that your family is being destroyed, but many including myself are starting to feel the pressure against unity in the home.
Fiona and I are going away camping this week because, when we are here, we are so busy we often get zero time together. Two workaholics need to be careful, and take steps to improve their relationship! So what practical steps can you take if you feel the enemy is attacking your family?
1. PRAY FOR PROTECTION AND UNITY IN THE HOME
Psalms 57:1 (ESV Strong's)
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
Your Heavenly Father longs to protect you. As we sang, He longs to hide you in the shadow of His wings. The first thing you should do is pray for the blood of Jesus to cover your family, and then the enemy will have no choice but to Passover your family, just as the Israelites experienced in the 10th plague.
Praying together as a family also can help, although if kids or spouses are not Christians, this is obviously not always an option. Remember, the family that prays together stays together!
2. DRAW NEAR TO GOD
James 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Get into your daily quiet times, listen to podcasts and sermons, read Christian books. If you do everything you can to draw close to God He promises to draw near to you, and many times you will draw closer to each other as a result.
3. GUARD YOUR MOUTH
If you have issues with your family members, pray don’t say!
James 3:5 (ESV Strong's)
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
How many of us have created havoc by the rash words we have spoken in anger? How many times have we, in anger or frustration, said things we regret? Things that have destroyed unity in the home.
Bill Newman tells of a woman who had been saying horrible things about the pastor. She felt convicted and apologised to the pastor, but he had a strange request… go to the local mountain, cut open a pillow and throw all of the feathers to the wind. She did this, and then the pastor said one more thing… could you go and pick them all up please?
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV Strong's)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Watch what you say, speak life not death to your family, and also watch how you say it! Eg: I’m sorry I love you
4. OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION
If the situation is explosive, it’s great to back off and take the time to respond appropriately. This doesn’t mean the silent treatment for days, weeks, months or years. To resolve anything, you will need to talk, and talk honestly and openly. So guys in particular, don’t run and hide in the shed… make time, schedule time in my case, to talk.
A couple in counselling… the woman complains “He never tells me he loves me.” The man replies, “I told you when we got married, and if I ever change my mind I will let you know!”
Learn to speak, even if it is not your way, and learn to speak words that build up, not pull down. Words that promote unity in the home.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong's)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Look, I know we all, myself included, have said a lot of rough things to those we love, our wives, husbands, kids, brothers and sister, especially when we are under pressure. You cannot take them back, but you can apologise.
And changes in your family and relationships start with a decision, a commitment if you will. You can fall in love again, you can have the relationships you want, but you have to decide to do it. Remember, the devil is out to bring you down, and the little foxes spoil the vines… those little irritations, neglected and glossed over, cause major breakups and destroy marriages time and time again.
So I’m going to ask you to be honest right now. Is there pressure on your marriage, on your relationships with kids, grandkids, siblings or even church family that aren’t ideal? Have you exploded, ignored or withdrawn in the most important relationships you have.
Valentine’s Day this week was all about love. But love is a commitment, and a commitment requires a choice. Ideally, you both commit to each other, but if the other party is too angry or withdrawn, will you be the bigger one and make the choice for establishing unity in the home?
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
Satan is attacking our families, but we won’t stand for it! We don’t want to lose one marriage, one family, one child, we want to be fully committed to each other and to the Lord’s service.
If you have tension, undue pressure on your home, your marriage or your relationship with your kids stand up for unity in the home.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV Strong's)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Unity in the home begets blessing, so if you want your marriage and family blessed, come forward.
Traditions are something like this... A mother was preparing a pot roast for her family’s Easter meal while her young daughter helped. Knowing her daughter was very curious, the mother explained each step. As she was preparing to put the pot roast in the oven, the mother explained, “Now we cut the ends off of each side of the meat.” As young children often do, the daughter asked, “Why?” The mother thought for a moment and replied, “Because that’s the way it’s done. That’s how your grandma did it and that’s how I do it.”
Not satisfied with this answer, the young girl asked if she could call her grandma. The young girl called and asked, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends off the pot roast?” Her grandma thought for a moment and said, “Because that’s the way it’s done. That’s how my mom did it and that’s how I do it.”
Still not satisfied, the young girl called her great grandma, who was now living in a nursing home. “Great grandma,” she said, “Why do you cut the ends off the pot roast?” Her great grandma said, “When I was a young mother, we had a very small oven. The pot roast wouldn’t fit in the oven if I didn’t cut the ends off.”
Everyone loves tradition, including me, and including God. God set up many traditions in the Old Testament to remind people of what He had said and done, and Jesus instigated traditions like communion in His day.
Tradition is all around us. I remember laying a wreath at the Canberra war memorial in honour of my grandfather. They played the last post, we had careful instructions on how to walk, how to place the wreath. It was all very vivid and special to me, and the tradition made it all the more powerful and memorable.
Go to the RSL, support a football club or watch cricket… tradition is all around us and loved by most of us.
In cricket for example, we have just defeated the English in the Ashes series. We compete for a tiny cup within which lie the ashes. This came about after Australia’s first win in a test match in England at the Oval 1882, when a newspaper jokingly lamented the death of English cricket. The mock obituary stated that English cricket had died, and "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". They burned the bails, put them in a tiny container, and that is what Aussie and English cricketers have competed over for more than 130 years!
So much tradition in sport, in parliament, law courts, schools, in families and especially in the Church! People love tradition, it brings them together, it feeds nostalgia. People talk about the good old days, do you remember them? I don’t think they were that good, but we always remember the good bits, not the bad.
Tradition is definitely a part of church life, but increasingly those who oppose God sometimes want the traditions, without the God.
Fiona’s brother and his wife just had something recently called a naming ceremony, which honestly is a baby dedication in every way without having God! Same sex marriage is the same. Gay couples had all the legal rights of union, but strangely they want to have an actual wedding and be called married. Why? Because people love traditions. Traditions bring stability, strength and honour.
Tradition is one of the holy cows of all religions, including Christianity. We gain strength and solidarity in traditions, but even in the Church today, much of what we do is not Biblical it is traditions.
Please do not misunderstand… I am not against tradition, I love it! Many of our traditions are good, and positive, but sometimes tradition grows in importance and actually eclipses what God says! We must make a clear distinction between what we do in the name of tradition and what we do in obedience to Christ.
Jesus met the issue of traditional religion head on in Mark 7, where a special delegation of legal experts came to challenge Jesus. They challenged Jesus because His disciples seemed to be breaking the time honoured rules of the Sabbath and ritual cleaning
Mark 7:5-9 (ESV Strong's)
And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
The issue in question here was not Scripture, but what was known as the tradition of the elders. These were rules created by Jewish leaders and were human traditions which often superseded God’s revealed Word.
So what did these rules involve, and what effect did they have? Let me offer a few samples…
The Mishnah, a compilation of Jewish oral laws made at the end of the second century A.D., says, "Tradition is a fence around the law." Tradition, as the Jews saw it, protected God's Holy Word and assisted God’s people in keeping it.
This fencing of the Law probably began well enough, but as the years passed it produced some famous absurdities. For example, in an effort to protect the Sabbath from being broken through inadvertent labor, the devout were given an amazing list of prohibitions —fences. For example, looking in the mirror was forbidden, because if you looked into the mirror on the Sabbath day and saw a gray hair, you might be tempted to pull it out and thus perform work on the Sabbath.
You also could not wear your false teeth; if they fell out, you would have to pick them up and you would be working. In regard to carrying a burden, you could not carry a handkerchief on the Sabbath, but you could wear a handkerchief. That meant if you were upstairs and wanted to take the handkerchief downstairs, you would have to tie it around your neck, walk downstairs, and untie it. Then you could blow your nose downstairs!
The rabbis debated about a man with a wooden leg: if his home caught on fire, could he carry his wooden leg out of the house on the Sabbath? One could spit on the Sabbath, but you had to be careful where. If it landed on the dirt and you scuffed it with your sandal, you would be cultivating the soil and thus performing work.
For many in Jesus’ day, ritual replaced a relationship with God; reputation was more important than godliness. Jesus labeled these attitudes as hypocrisy. Our spiritual growth can succeed only if we are willing to have our hearts and outward actions changed according to God’s Word, not man’s bright ideas.
Before we start feeling too pious, let’s pause to remember that we all have traditions in Church and worship. Yes, even in Ignite, we have traditions. We share communion every week, that’s a tradition. Some of us dressing nice for Church. We start with worship the same way every week… tradition again! These may be good, some perhaps not so good, and none of them seem as absurd as the Mishnah traditions.
I’ve often heard people in Pentecostal churches refer to another churches as “traditional”, but don’t be fooled, we Pentecostals are as traditional as they are, just in different ways. They have responsive readings, we pray in a certain way. We dunk, they sprinkle. We raise our hands, they do not… both are traditions.
Colossians 2:8 (ESV Strong's)
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
The Greek word for tradition is Paradosis, which is the same as used by Jesus with the Pharisees.
And while many traditions are comforting and can be helpful, some can also take us captive and steer us away from God! Traditions are fine, but they are hollow, devoid of any teal life. What sustains us in our hour of need is not traditions but the power of God, the Word of God and the Spirit of God! So we must be on guard!
TRADITION… THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Church traditions can point us to Christ, or steer us away from Jesus. Most of us enjoy communion every week, but do we let it grow stale and “same ol, same ol”? The problem many times is often not so much in the tradition itself, but in our attitude to it.
All around us, people are in churches where they feel obligated to stay but are slowly dying. Some have loads of ritual, but zero relationship. Some have lots liturgies but no life. Some provide entertainment but no encounter. Many older denominations are steeped in religious traditions that have nothing to do with God, and are impossible to find in His Word. And let’s face it, some of our modern churches have the same, just in a modern guise!
And this is the point… religious traditions can be good, bad or just plain ugly. How do we know the difference? How can we figure out and embrace good traditions and reject the bad? The only standard we can have is the Word of God.
But not everything is specifically addressed in the Bible. However, principles are in the Bible. The Bible does not say, “Thou must not take drugs,” but in many places it talks of self control in places like Galatians 5, which is clearly affected by drug taking. It doesn’t specifically mention smoking, cyberporn, cell phones or Facebook, rock music, styles of worship, etc. but clearly lays out behaviour that applies to these modern phenomenon.
It should be the same in Church. We can embrace traditions, sure, but only those that align with God’s Word. And some church traditions are clearly human in origin. Nowhere does it say that priests must be celibate, that’s a human tradition. Nowhere does it say you cannot eat meat on Friday. Nowhere does it say you have to sing certain songs or do certain rituals. Nowhere does it command us to make the sign of the cross, or use bells and smells when we worship. These human traditions were originally brought in by well meaning men for noble reasons, but let’s be clear, they are not God’s Word!
Titus 1:13-14 (ESV Strong's)
Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
The thing is man made traditions in religions were designed to remind us of God, but ultimately man made traditions do not set us free, they binds us, fences us in and controls us. Many times people choose religion instead of God, and however noble the intent of the religious tradition. I recently saw a program on notorious drug dealer Pablo Escobar, who murdered, extorted, exploited and fornicated his way through life, but still worshipped at a Catholic Church, went to confession and made the sign of the cross.
2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV Strong's)
For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Religion and human tradition, as good as it might be, in the end kills rather than brings life if it is not based on the Word of God and directed by the Holy Spirit.
And Religious tradition often has a sinister spirit behind it, one of control and superiority. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mark and pull back the curtain and see what is really behind not all but some man made traditions...
1. TRADITION AND FEELING SUPERIOR
Religion makes you feel pious, superior and better than the next person. We think we are the best, our denomination has it right and everybody else is wrong. God calls this pride!
The ritualistic washings the Jewish leaders talked about in Mark 7 gave them a sense of being “special”, and that other people were “unclean”! If a Jew went to the marketplace to buy food, he might be “defiled” by a Gentile or (God forbid!) a Samaritan. This tradition had begun centuries before to remind the Jews that they were God’s elect people and therefore had to keep themselves morally clean and separated. However, this good reminder had gradually degenerated into an empty ritual, a set of holier than Thou rules and the result was pride and religious isolation.
And listen, we can be just as superior. I cannot tell you how many good Pentecostal people have smugly told me that others are “not Spirit filled” as if they are inferior. Being filled with the Spirit of God is a joy and a blessing, it can be a powerhouse for your spiritual life, but it is not a higher rank than another believer. At Ignite Christian Church, we value unity and love for one another above any specific gift. That’s why when Paul talked about tongues and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, he placed the great love chapter right in the middle. Why? He said he wants us all to exercise the gifts, but we need to love one another more than we love the making others do what we want.
That being said, do I want us all to be filled with the Spirit? Absolutely! I want us all on fire for Christ, I desire to see every person ignited with a passion for Jesus that consumes them. But as your pastor, I’m not here to be superior, and I refuse to force you to do something that you are not comfortable with.. I am here to serve!
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Religion makes us feel superior, but Jesus calls us to be servants.
2. TRADITION AND MANIPULATION
The second thing tradition can do is be used to manipulate. In the passage we started with in Mark 7, Jesus Himself sites a specific example of how people can use religious traditions to control and manipulate for their own ends.
Mark 7:9-13 (ESV Strong's)
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
The situation is that the fifth commandment of the law stating you should honour and care for your parents in their age. These religious leaders saw a loophole that trumped caring for your ailing parents. If you “dedicated” your money to God, you could hang onto it and not give towards your parents care.
Tradition manipulates the situation, in much the same way as Jehovah’s Witnesses use religious tradition and control in teaching their people that they have to witness door to door to get to heaven… they have no assurance of salvation like we do, but the sect gets an endless stream of workers going door to door!
I have seen pastors in our churches using religious tradition to manipulate and control people, to force them to do what the leader wants. This is not leadership, this is abuse, and Jesus got real mad about this kind of religious abuse! Again, traditions are great but they must not be a tool for control or superiority.
WHEN TRADITION CROSSES THE LINE
People love traditions, and we in the Church do also. They remind us of great truths or great blessings. But Jesus addressed the Pharisees about this because they were substituting traditions of men for the Word of God. A tradition may actually be good and may be established for a very good reason. However, it crosses the line and becomes evil when it is a substitute for the Word of God in later generations. And that is what has happened to these people here.
Anything we establish that is not according to God’s Word is going to become destructive and controlling. And you can see this in many denominations today, some of which started great and have dropped away to become a shell.
Every move of God comes in 4 stages. A man, a movement, a machine and a monument.
It starts with a man, a dynamic man who has a dynamic, God given vision. Look at John Wesley and Methodism, William Booth and the Salvation Army. Look at Amy Semple McPherson and the Four Square movement. Great men and woman, great power, and great anointing.
This then gives rise to a movement, and the denomination gains influence and grows in numbers. But after some time, maybe a generation or two, people are just going through the motions. It becomes a machine, still big and influential, but it’s lost its edge, it’s lost its Holy Spirit power. It’s lost its specific calling and anointing.
It finishes up a monument to past glories. Man, movement, machine, monument. Where are we?
In our Bible reading this week in Mark 11, Jesus cursed the fig tree which was in bloom. Why? Is it because he doesn’t like figs? No, it was a comment in the Pharisees and the religious traditions of the day. He was saying, “you look the part, you look and act religious, but there is no fruit!” Let this be a warning to us. It is not our religion, not our tradition, not our gifts or Bible scholarship that impresses Christ. It is the fruit of the Spirit that He is looking for.
Told you I would slay a few holy cows this morning!
Many of you here have come from different churches with different traditions, and I love that you’ve found a home here. Many have only ever know Pentecostalism, and I love that you have accepted and embraced those who think slightly differently to you.
We face a choice this morning, and interestingly this is the same choice that the people of Israel faced Millenia ago…
Exodus 20:18-21 (ESV Strong's)
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
The people had a unique opportunity, to establish an intimate and special relationship with God, one where He would talk directly to them. But they were afraid, they feared God and were fearful of what He might ask them to do. So they told Moses to go and talk to God for them, then relay the message to them, while they stood afar off, distant from God.
I think we can all agree that human tradition is no substitute for the Word of God, right?
RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP… YOUR CHOICE
God wants relationship, not religion. He doesn’t want tradition, He wants to touch you. But some of us, because we are scared, because we are comfortable with certain traditions, we choose law over love, and religion over relationship.
But today, I believe that God is asking us to choose Him, and take a chance on a God who loves you. Let us never choose anything, any belief, any tradition over a close relationship with the Lord. I love most of our traditions, but I refuse to let whether you speak in tongues or not, whether you prophesy or not, whether you like hymns or like popular songs, whether you’ve been baptised in water or baptised in the Spirit, I refuse to let that stand between us!
Unity is where the Lord bestows blessing, and God has called Ignite to be a church of unity! We must be one in the Spirit, and while we may not see eye to eye, we can still walk hand in hand and arm in arm.
2 Timothy 2:23-24 (ESV Strong's)
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
Church, we stand on the brink of something Mighty here at Ignite. God is unrolling, unfurling a vision before me that is the most exciting I have ever been a part of. And you are a part of it too! So let us agree to set aside the things that separate, even if you think you are right, and let us agree to love first and foremost. Let us agree that our standard is simply the Bible. If it’s in here, it’s in. If it’s not, it’s not!
But ultimately we face the same decision the people of Israel faced… rules or relationship. This is why I continue to remind you of the Bible reading plan. I’m not trying to control you, but if you read this every day, just 2 chapters a day, then you will grow your relationship. If not this plan, do another, but will you covenant with me to endeavour to read His Word and pray every day? Tun off Facebook, click the TV off and read or listen to 2 chapters a day. Then you will discover life abundantly, a greater life in God than you have ever experienced, and all the things you need will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
It's New Year's Eve 2018, and it's time to rise and shine! Glen Cook once said, “Morning is wonderful…it’s only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.”
I don’t know about you, but I like sleep, and never seem to get enough of it. And when you are asleep, waking up is often one of the hardest things to do.
My dad used to get up with the sparrows and start singing loudly, calling us to rise and shine. So Church, on the brink of New Year's Eve 2018 is time for us to wake up, rise and shine.
FUNNY ALARM CLOCKS
See the video for this one folks!
SNOOZE YOU LOSE
Billy Graham once said, “We are to wait for the coming of Christ with patience. We are to watch with anticipation. We are to work with zeal. We are to prepare with urgency.”
Paul put it this way…
Romans 13:11-14 (ESV Strong's)
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Warne Wiersbe summarised today’s passage in this way… “Wake up, clean up and grow up.” As we approach 2018, I believe we are in for one of the most challenging years yet, but it will also provide some of the greatest opportunities we have ever seen in this nation to shine for Jesus. For decades the church has been barely noticeable in our society, and now they notice us and they hate us and brand us bigots and prejudicial hypocrites. So let’s see how we can turn the lemons of the end of 2017 into the lemonade of joy and achievement on New Year's Eve 2018.
Romans 13:11 (ESV Strong's)
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
Like teenagers sleeping in, the church has been asleep in this nation for decades. We’ve looked like the world, tried to sound like the world and in most ways been indistinguishable from the rest of the world. But now suddenly in 2018, following the government legislating same sex marriage, we now have the chance to wake up and look different to the rest of the world.
Jesus is coming back soon, I am more convinced than ever. Jesus describes the end times in Matthew as times of war, times of famine and pestilence. Then He says this…
Matthew 24:9-13 (ESV Strong's)
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Then Jesus equates the end times with two other period in history, both of which were followed by severe judgement…
Luke 17:26-29 (ESV Strong's)
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—
Our society is facing imminent judgement for our wickedness and depravity. And while some Christians are content to float along and condone this wickedness, I believe New Year's Eve 2018 is time to wake up and make a stand for what is true and noble and right!
GET THE MESSAGE RIGHT
A priest and pastor were standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that read, "The End is near! Turn around before it's too late!"
One speeding motorist yelled out his window, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” as he flew by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.
“Do you think," said one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says ‘Bridge Out’ instead?”
We as a church need to get the message right. The message is not that we hate homosexuals. The message is not that we want to ostracise ourselves from them. The message is not even that we don’t want homosexuals to have a fair go!
The message is that Jesus loves people, and He died for them. Yet He is a holy God. We must stand for the righteousness the Bible peaches, but we must also love those who persecute us, and never before have we had the opportunity to do this like we face in 2018.
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. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
On New Year's Eve 2018 it is time to wake up and love people, even those we disagree with. And that is my stand with regards homosexuals and transgenders… I do not, cannot and will not agree with your behaviour, but I love you and accept you and will treat you with respect. We will never win them if we do not love them, but loving them does not mean compromising what the Bible clearly teaches is sin.
They tell us that if we love them we will agree with their behaviour. That’s not true. We can say, “I love you so much, that I cannot let ultimately destructive behaviour slip quietly by. I love you so much I’m going to share the truth with you, even if you hate me for it!”
Romans 13:12-13 (ESV Strong's)
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy.
We need to wake up on New Year's Eve 2018, but we also need to clean up. Not just wake up to the threats and challenges in our society, we must also clean ourselves up. If Ignite is to reach its full potential this year, it’s is up to us to be clean, Holy, pure, and to not harbour any sin in our lives.
While most of us will not be involved in orgies, drunkenness and sexual immorality, we will be sorely tempted in areas like quarrelling and jealousy.
1 Peter 4:17 (ESV Strong's)
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
If God is going to use us in 2018, we need to be careful about how we behave. I don’t expect you to agree with every decision our church leadership makes, but I do expect you to behave in a godly manner, and to maintain unity. Unity doesn’t mean that we see eye to eye on everything, but we can walk hand in hand and arm in arm. I believe that this year holds the greatest promise of any year in the history of this church, but only if we walk in obedience and stay clean before Him! In word, in deed and in conscience.
Without unity, we become just a shell of who we should be. So as we face the New Year, let us leave behind anger, resentment and gossip. We need to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to serving the Lord and recognise our opinions are most just that… opinions. Let’s keep our hearts and lives clean so we can move ahead together!
Romans 13:14 (ESV Strong's)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
This year more than ever before we need to grow up. Remember, growing old is compulsory, but growing in maturity is optional. So how can we grow in maturity this year?
1. GET SERIOUS WITH SIN
This year starting New Year's Eve 2018 we need to cast off the old man and put on the new. I just talked about cleaning up our lives, but cleaning house is a sign of maturity. It’s time for you and I to stop trying to beat those old sins, and start trusting Jesus to beat them. And don’t look so smug, we all have them. It is time to get ruthless about tolerating sin in our lives. It’s time to get serious with sin!
And the truth is that many times we tolerate sin and treat it so casually.
Little boy fishing.
If doing something causes you to sin, stop doing it. If someone constantly causes you to sin, come away from them.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Charles Stanley observes, “We know we should avoid a certain place, but we go there anyway. We recognise a personal weakness for a particular activity, but we tempt ourselves anyway. How often do we fall into sin because we plan for it?”
This New Year's Eve 2018 is your opportunity to repent, seek forgiveness and take drastic action to stop persistent sin. Make a covenant with me now to do whatever it takes to stop persistent sin in your life, even if it means losing friends or giving up activities you enjoy. It’s time for drastic surgery!
Proverbs 22:3 (ESV Strong's)
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.
A native American story speaks of two wolves: one representing your good and wholesome self, the part of you that seeks to treat others honourably, to encourage, to build up, to love. The second wolf represents your destructive, evil self, the part of you that bites out with sarcasm and resentment and gossip, that tears down others and satisfies your own needs alone.
A boy once asked his father, “Which wolf will get stronger and over power the other in the battle for my life?” And the father said, “Son, that’s simple: the one that you feed.” As you follow Christ, you feed the good wolf within.
This year, which wolf will you feed? It’s time for us to cast off the sin that so easily entangles us!
2. GET SERIOUS WITH YOUR DESTINY
Some of you here look at your life and wonder if that’s as good as it gets. Job, family, house, car, surely there is more to life than that? Ask yourself now, is there more to life than the life I now lead?
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong's)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Listen, God has a plan and a destiny for your life, something significant you can do, something special you can be a part of in the Kingdom of God. And part of the reason Ignite exists is to make your dreams of ministry come true.
Someone once gave me a workout DVD, and I reckon it doesn’t work. I watched it 20 times and feel no fitter than I did before! What’s the problem? I need to get off my backside and actually do it, not just watch it. And so it is with your destiny. 2018 is the year you can stop watching and start doing, you can stop merely attending church and start getting involved, you can stop wishing and start serving!
2018 is the year that many of you will discover your God-given purpose. Some of you will rediscover it, because you use to do things in the Kingdom and you thought that time had passed. Your gift is not dead, it is dormant, and this next year starting New Year's Eve 2018 is the year for stirring it up again!
3. GET SERIOUS WITH GOD
None of this will happen if we do not get serious with God! We have a new Bible reading plan, and I want to encourage you all to do it. This thing has taken off all over the place, and those doing it are really blessed. You cannot achieve anything significant for God unless you know Him, and the more you know Him the greater you will become.
The way you get to know Him is by reading His Word. Do it every day and I guarantee you your life with Christ will take off. 7 days without prayer and Bible study makes one weak.
This is not some stodgy old book, the Bible is empowered by God’s Spirit,
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
You don’t have to do my Bible reading plan, but do some plan. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail, and I believe that New Year's Eve 2018 is the start for many of us take off into the stratosphere in our lives and ministries.
4. GET SERIOUS WITH CHURCH
Two statisticians went hunting. They saw a deer, and one shot and missed by 1m to the right, while the other shot and missed by 1m to the left, so they jumped up excitedly and proclaimed, “We hit it!”
Statistics are like that, you can make them say anything. But recently I saw statistics that indicate that in the modern church someone who attends church once a month is now considered regular.
We live in an age where people find it easy to lash out on Facebook, but hard to commit to Church, marriage or jobs. If we are to get anywhere this year, you and I need to be committed to church, not casual attenders. Ok, some have jobs that require them to work or travel on a Sunday, and some have family obligations, but outside of these I believe we need to do our utmost to play our part in Ignite Christian Church.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV Strong's)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The hour is getting late, society and morals are crumbling around us, persecution is upon us and we as a family of believers need to get serious about church. Come join us as often as you can, and don’t stand on the sidelines criticising or feeling left out. Join us, there are wonderful things you can do and wonderful people you can share the journey with.
The Bible says don’t neglect meeting together. Remember,
Leviticus 26:8 (ESV Strong's)
Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
There is Holy Spirit power in us pulling together, and there is blessing in unity! And 2018 is the year when we shine our light, when we say to the forces of darkness, “enough”, we will no longer cower in the corner, we will not fade away into the night, but we will stand together and fight for what is right, what is godly and what is honourable.
I was just reading Malachi 1 in the Bible reading plan, and was struck by how upset God was when we offer second rate sacrifices. The people were offering sacrifices as required by law, sure, but they were blemished, lame and sick.
It made me think, how often do we as Christians treat Church like a second-rate sacrifice. I will turn up if I have nothing better on, if the surf is average, if the family lunch is cancelled. Brothers and sisters, this should not be!
If we get serious about showing up every week we can to church, and being involved in every way we can, then I believe it will bless God’s heart. If we are inconsistent, we are the ones who will miss out on the greatest opportunity we will ever get to be a part of something truly significant here at Ignite.
God knows our hearts, and He sees the level of our commitment. He promises this…
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV-WS)
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
I aim to be that guy this New Year's Eve 2018. What about you?
More than ever before in the history of the church in this nation, we need to have Christians standing together. And in 2018, you and I have the chance to join the triumphant church and make a difference that will last eternity!
NEW YEAR'S EVE 2018 IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE
Towards the end of this previous year we underwent some changes in this church, including changing our name. Ignite is not some random name I conjured up, it is a prophetic word over our church, and this is the year when we get to ignite, fire up and shine God’s Holy light in the darkness.
In Church, and in your Christian life, it is now time to stop looking back and start moving ahead. It’s hats off to the past, but coats off to the future, because God has place a mighty destiny before us!
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV Strong's)
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
In a dry, parched and weary land, we can be the streams our people need. In a dark, evil, godless society, we can be the shining light.
But to truly shine this year, it takes 2 decisions on your part…
Decide to shine
Decide to keep shining, no matter what!
Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV Strong's)
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
2018 is our year of destiny, it’s our year of moving forward, and New Year's Eve 2018 is our moment to shine! It’s our year to put aside things that ultimately don’t really matter, and concentrate in the one thing that does matter… serving Jesus with everything we have, everything we are, everything we say, everything we do and every desire we possess for the future.
Some of you will hear this and look away, saying he must be talking to someone else. But some of you know you have destiny within you, and you’re just waiting for the opportunity to shine. I stand before you pledging to give my all for the purposes of God in Ignite church this next year, and I’m asking you to stand with me, to shine with me!
Christmas is when Jesus came on a mission from God, but Christmas means different things to different people. For some it’s a time of joy, a time to spend with family and good friends. For others it is a time of loneliness. For some it’s a thing of wonder, lights and magic, while for others it’s just a chance to take a few days off work, eat a bit and drink a lot.
In the middle of all this, you might be forgiven for thinking that the central figure of Christmas is a old, fat jolly guy in a red suit. There’s a lot of fake in Christmas… fake elves, fake snow, fake stars, fake trees, fake smiles at family gatherings, to the point where as adults we are conditioned to believe nothing but play along with the façade. But those of us who are Christians have something more than the fakeness, something that makes this season one of true joy and genuine thankfulness.
His name is Jesus, and at this time we celebrate His coming to earth. You’ll see pictures of Him as a baby, but that’s not the end of the story… it’s not even the beginning of the story! But why did He, being God, become a man, a person born in a lowly stable, to a working class family who lived in a working class town? This is one of the great mysteries of Christmas, that Christ...
Philippians 2:6-11 (ESV Strong's)
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
He did not come randomly, He didn’t come to set up a religion. Jesus wasn’t just a good person, or a world class prophet. He was and still is God Himself, and He had the end game in mind.
Jesus came on a mission from God.
“WE’RE ON A MISSION FROM GOD”
I remember seeing the movie “The Blues Brothers”, where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd played Jake and Elwood, who get the original band back together to raise money to save a Catholic orphanage… hence they told everyone there were on a mission from God.
While that mission is debatable, Jesus definitely was on a mission from God. His birth was no accident, it was a very specific moment when God’s Son stepped into time for a specific, God ordained purpose.
This purpose involved Him becoming a man, being conceived supernaturally but being born just like you or I, growing up as a man, living life as a man of that time and finally, choosing to lay down His life. This mission was planned for centuries, and meticulously fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
According to Jewish teaching, the Messiah must fulfil specific descriptive words that were written about Him centuries before, (which we call prophecies) and fulfil them 100%... every single one of them!
Matthew 5:17 (ESV Strong's)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
There are over 300 references to 61 specific prophecies about Jesus in the OT. Failure to fulfil any single one of these would discount Jesus as the promised Messiah.
These prophecies are very specific, such as the town He must be born into, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) even down to things like being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13), where it even predicts that the 30 pieces of silver are given to buy the potter’s field. Not 29 pieces, and not 31. That’s how specific many of these predictions were.
So, 61 prophecies written 500-1000 years before Christ were all totally fulfilled in one man… Jesus Christ!
Mathematics Professor Peter Stoner calculated the odds that 8 of these prophecies could be fulfilled in one man, and discovered that the odds were 1 in 10 to the 21st power. What does that mean? Well, imagine if you covered the entire earth land mass in 20c coins to a depth of 36 metres, marked one coin and asked someone to travel the world and select that one specific coin first go. That’s the odds.
Forensic scientists match a DNA profile and say the odds of having the wrong person is one in several billion… well that’s the same for having these prophecies fulfilled in one man, and that’s only 8 of the 61 needed.
Jesus came on a mission from God, a very specific mission. Before we examine that mission, let me explain to you what Jesus’ mission from God was not…
WHAT JESUS’ MISSION FROM GOD WAS NOT
People being people, read the Word of God and twist and turn it to suit themselves, but when we examine why Jesus came to earth, we have to take the entire Bible into context, not just the bits that suit us. Contrary to popular belief, these things were not Jesus’ mission from God…
1. HE DID NOT COME TO BRING WORLD PEACE
When the angels announced the arrival of Jesus, they didn’t say peace on earth to all men. They said,
Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Yes, Jesus came to bring peace on earth, but not for all men, only those with whom God is pleased, those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Until He returns again, we will always have war on earth because people are selfish and nations are militant.
In fact, Jesus said this…
Matthew 10:34 (ESV Strong's)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
He said this because He realised that when he came to save men’s souls, that this would cause conflict between believers and those who refuse to believe. I’ve experienced that at times, and many times people we love are against our beliefs and what inspires us.
But in the midst of all the terrorism, war, family conflict, divorce and pain, in a sea of arguments over money, things, relationships, gender, children and prejudice, Jesus can make you an island of inner peace. He did not come to bring world peace, but to allow you and I to have the inner peace that passes all understanding, and live a life of joy and fulfilment.
2. HE DID NOT COME TO MEET YOUR NEEDS
Almost every religion or belief system I have seen emphasises “what’s in it for me!” People turn to religion to get God to do what they want. People turn to atheism not because it makes sense, (it clearly doesn’t) but because it gives them the right to behave the way they want.
I’m so sick of hearing people ordering God around, thinking if they can only say the right prayer, or do the right things they will get what they want. That, my friends, is paganism, it's not Jesus' mission from God.
We are consumers, you and I, and we always make choices based on what is best for us. But Jesus’ mission was never to come and give us what we want. It was never to make us feel comfortable and happy. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion, and yes, I will be the first to tell you that God has given me so many wonderful things in life, and unbelievable joy, but that’s a fringe benefit, it was never the main mission!
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Blessing comes to those who seek God first, but never lose sight of the fact that Jesus came with a greater mission that making your life joyful, happy and fun.
3. HE DID NOT COME TO MESS UP YOUR SUPPOSEDLY PERFECT LIFE
Many people resist coming to Jesus not because they don’t believe He is real, not even because they do not believe His mission from God, but because they are worried that He will want to change the way they live, and they quite like how they live, sin and all!
Ephesians 4:22-23 (ESV Strong's)
put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
Jesus did come to change your life (part of His mission from God), but He did not come to rain on your parade! People say to me, “If I become a Christian I will have to stop smoking, swearing, drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, driving a nice car or partying, right?”
Ok, let’s have a look at that… Smoking? An expensive, dirty habit, and one that almost every smoker I know would give anything to stop. Drinking? It’s ok when you’re drunk, but how much fun are hangovers or alcoholism? Drugs? Expensive, ruins your life, ruins your career, ruins your relationships. Swearing? That’s an embarrassment. Sleeping around? How many diseases or disastrous relationships do you need before you figure out that sex with multiple partners is never as fulfilling as having God’s choice as a wonderful wife or husband? If sex brought fulfilment, the most fulfilled person in the world would be a prostitute! Partying? Well, you look cool when you are 18, sad when you are 28, embarrassing when you’re 38 and downright tragic when you’re 48 and still trying to party. What a waste of a life!
People tell me they don’t want to give up the things they like doing to become a Christian. Listen, coming to Christ doesn’t mean you stop having fun… in fact you have more fun, a fulfilled life, family, careers, and blessing others! And when you know Jesus, you recognise how shallow and destructive those old behaviours are. When you come to Jesus, you don’t give up the lousy life you currently lead, you throw it away. I don’t give up my garbage, I throw it away.
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.
Any so called restriction placed on your life when you come to Christ is for your own protection, and it allows you to live the best life ever! I’ve been married to the same girl for 33 years last week, and I know guys who pick up girls in bars regularly. The world thinks their life is more exciting than mine, more fulfilling than mine, but all of them envy me and the relationship I have with one woman.
Jesus’ mission from God is not to restrict or mess up your life, it’s to fulfil it and make it abundant!
So now we know what Jesus’ mission from God wasn’t, let look at what His mission from God was. Why did Jesus come to earth as a baby that first Christmas Day?
First, we need to understand the situation we find ourselves in, the condition of mankind. God created us perfect and without sin, and He gave us a garden to enjoy, but the devil tempted Adam and Eve away from God and towards sin.
WE LIVE IN SIN CITY?
What is sin? Is to murdering, or stealing or getting angry at people. Those are some of the many symptoms of sin, but what is the cause of sin.
Sin is defined by the Bible thus…
1 John 3:4 (ESV Strong's)
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
Sin is doing anything, saying anything, even thinking anything that is contrary or against God. I have people say to me, “I’m a good guy, I’m honest, I try and do the right thing, so I don’t think I sin.”
Really? Have you ever been selfish? Ever envied your friend? Ever hurt someone you love? Clearly, according to the Bible, we are all guilty as charged. We all live in sin city. We are all lawless, obeying our laws and desires, not God’s. This sets up Jesus' mission from God.
ALL HAVE SINNED, AND ALL MUST PAY
The Bible says,
Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong's)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And that is clearly true. The Bible says that God is holy, and that He, and indeed Jesus is without sin. Any sin. And God is so holy, He will not even look upon sin. The penalty for sin is separation from God, separation in this life from Him, and in eternity separated in hell.
Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are all destined for eternal death in hell, every one of us, because clearly we are all sinners! You might cry to God that it’s not fair, but it is extremely fair and just.
And this is why we can do nothing to redeem ourselves. Every religion in the world says that, if you live a good life and your good outweighs the bad, you might just be saved. It’s salvation by works, by doing everything from being a good person, handing out watchtower magazines or murdering non believers!
Every religion is man’s attempt up to reach God, but only Christianity is God’s attempt to reach down to man in the person of His Son and draw man to Himself.
MISSION FROM GOD 1- JESUS CAME TO SAVE YOU
But because of Jesus’ mission from God, Christianity is completely different. The Bible teaches that you and I are destined for hell, and nothing you can do will stop that. Even if you’re a nice guy, you won’t get to heaven, you’ll just get to be the nicest guy in hell!
Jesus’ primary mission was this… God knew we couldn’t become good enough to be saved, and that we deserve to die, so God sent His only Son to die in our place.
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.
That’s the good news of the gospel… you don’t have to be good enough to be saved, because you can never be good enough, you just have to be willing to accept Jesus.
Romans 5:8 (ESV Strong's)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV Strong's)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This Christmas, look beyond the baby in the manger and see the Saviour hanging on nails dying in your place! Nails didn’t hold Him to the cross, love did! His love for you is the very reason He became that baby, lived as a man and died the death we should have died, to open the door for us to come back to God.
John 10:17-18 (ESV Strong's)
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Accepting God’s gift of eternal life is available to you this Christmas, free of charge. Just repent and receive, it is that simple.
MISSION FROM GOD 2- JESUS CAME TO SHINE IN A DARK WORLD
You probably don’t need me to tell you that this world is a dark, dark place! There’s pain, sickness, selfishness, war and prejudice. It seems mankind can’t help themselves, they just hurt each other.
Pause right now and look around at life… there’s the threat of war in North Korea, there are famines we can’t control, there are sicknesses we cannot heal, let alone control, there are evil regimes that operate unchecked. Today there’s more terrorism, more mental illness and more drug abuse than ever before. Mankind doesn’t know where the next terror attack is coming from, we don’t know how to act kindly, how to care properly for the poor, how to eat properly ourselves, how to relate properly. We’ve no idea how to stop envy, greed, prejudice, exploitation, divorce, separation, and mankind is so smart we don’t know the difference between a male and a female anymore! More than ever we need someone on a true mission from God today!
This world is a mess. What sort of world are we leaving to our children? If we really love our kids, the best thing we can do is to come to Jesus and lead them out of this horrible darkness and into His light.
You see, into such a world God sent His Son on a mission from God to shine a light, His truth, His grace and compassion into our lives, a ray of hope that started at Christmas and grew to completeness hanging on a cross for you.
The second part of Jesus’ mission from God was to shine His holy light in the darkness of the world…
John 8:12 (ESV Strong's)
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 12:46 (ESV Strong's)
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
But here’s the thing… the Bible says mankind hates it when the light shines into their darkness, because they are ashamed of what they do. Men love darkness because it kind of covers up their faults and sin. Ever wondered why evil things like prostitution, drug taking, drinking, gambling, wife beating, pornography, murder and most other sins, mostly occur at night?
John 3:19-21 (ESV Strong's)
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
MISSION FROM GOD 3- JESUS CAME TO HEAL AND SET CAPTIVES FREE
Jesus’ mission from God was summarised in Isaiah, used by Jesus in Luke to describe Himself
Luke 4:18-19 (ESV Strong's)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
If you are feeling like someone or something holds you captive today, Jesus has come to set you free. If you’re a slave to destructive habits, Jesus has come to set you free. If you feel bound, overwhelmed, hurt, if you feel like you are struggling against insurmountable odds, Jesus has come to set you free.
Jesus mission includes healing the sick, binding up the hurt and broken hearted.
MISSION FROM GOD 4- PROVIDE POWER FOR LIVING
Jesus didn’t just come on a mission from God to save us, and to heal and restore us, but His coming opened the way for us to have real power for living. He died in our place on the cross, but death could not hold Him, and 3 days later He conquered death and sin and rose again, showing us that we too can have eternal life!
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,
Eternal life is not some pie in the sky when you die by and by, it starts right here. Jesus’ mission was to give us life for here and now, as well as eternity. The power to live a triumphant life, every day, no matter what circumstances throw at us. Life to the full, starting now.
Jesus died, rose to life again and then went back to be with the Father, but before He went He gave us this gift…
Acts 1:8 (ESV Strong's)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Holy Spirit is the deposit of God, living within us. I can’t live a righteous life, and either can you, but God’s Spirit living in you can slowly transform the way you live to empower you to live a righteous, triumphant and blessed life. When Jesus came that first Christmas, His mission was to bring salvation to mankind, to shine in a dark world, to heal and set men free and to empower you to life life to the full. But He has one more mission objective…
MISSION FROM GOD 5- RAISE AN ARMY TO WIN THE WORLD
Jesus came that first Christmas on a mission from God as a meek and mild baby, born into poverty, raised in obscurity, but He has promised to return, and it will not be as a baby! He’s coming back again in triumph, as the rightful King, and to this end He is raising an army of believers to win the world!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV Strong's)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
CHOOSE THIS DAY
This Christmas, we remember Jesus coming as a baby. He came on a mission from God, He came and died a horrible death because He loves you. You don’t deserve it, either do I, but God loves you so much He wants to save you for all eternity, and empower you to live for Him, starting right now.
This Christmas you face a choice… go your own way, or turn to Jesus. Stumble in this dark world or come into the light? Give Him the flick, or give Him your life? There are consequences to every decision. What will you do?
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,
If you come to Jesus, you receive life, and your children are led into the light. Yes, you can save generations by making the right decision now.