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.
Romans 8:13 (ESV Strong's)
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!