I was inspired by last week’s very wise and prophetic message from Ps. Paul Camac about the seasons of life. Every season has its own opportunities, its own fruit, and some seasons are more fruitful than others.
What he preached rings true to me, because Fiona and I are in the tail end of autumn, and the harvest is still plentiful. But I began to think about how important this year really is, in the life of this church, Lily House and my own mortality. David, in the winter of his life, gave advice to his son, Solomon, a younger man in summer,
1 Chronicles 28:20 (ESV)
Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.
So, I believe there is more, much more, to be done in 2023 and beyond. We haven’t arrived, we are just taking off.
If you are after a church that is comfortable and maintains the status quo, you are in the wrong place. But if you seek a church that is moving ahead, taking ground and taking off to bring its community to Jesus, if you want to be part of that, then you’ve found it!
THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IS A BLAST!
I heard a story about Alfred Nobel, the originator of the Nobel Peace Prize. When his brother died, Nobel got a copy of the newspaper to see what was said about his brother. He was shocked to discover that the paper had confused him with his brother, and the obituary he was reading was his own.
As a young man, Alfred Nobel had been involved in the invention of dynamite, and his premature obituary elaborated on the terrible death and destruction this powerful force had brought into the world.
Nobel was devastated. He wanted to be known as a man of peace. He quickly realised that he needed to write his own obituary, by changing the nature of his life. So Alfred Nobel did just that. Today Alfred Nobel is better known for his contribution to peace rather than any other thing he did in his life.
YOU CAN HAVE A DESIGNER LIFE
Fiona and I were in Florence Italy recently, and we saw the home of Gucci, Prada, etc. I realised that designer things cost a lot more than cheap rip-offs. But their quality is worth it.
Every one of us can have a designer life. Your life is yours to design. You can waste it, or make it all it can be! Whatever season we are in, God gives us opportunities for a designer life, and we must press in and trust Him to use us. Now more than ever, as Paul writes,
Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
I believe that in 2023 the days are evil, but that this is the year we take off. As a church, as individuals, as servants. After two years of enforced COVID stagnation, the shackles are off this year. It’s time for us to design our lives by making the right choices. Whatever the season, I believe we can, and indeed must, be fully productive. It’s time for us to take off and fly into what the Lord is preparing for us!
IT’S TIME TO TAKE OFF IN 2023
If you want to take hold of your life and really become someone mighty in God, then you need to listen to this message.
How do we take ground for the Kingdom, and take off in our walk and service for Jesus? Here’s my take on the takes we need to take if we are to take off in 2023.
1. TAKE A MOMENT WITH GOD
It all starts with you taking a moment or two and investing it into God. You will never achieve anything great for God unless you take the time to be with Him and get to know Him. That’s why I am encouraging you to read God’s Word. Some of you will read the Word of God for the first time, and you will sense more and more that God is near to you.
James 4:8 (ESV)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
When attempting to describe God, human beings have often conjured up an image of a hostile being who must be appeased, a disinterested deity who is distant and uninvolved in our lives, or possibly a magical entity who can be manipulated through superstitious ritual.
God is none of those, He is Almighty Creator who, amazingly, desires an intimate relationship with you, His creation. When you seek Him first, you will know Him more, understand Him more and He will empower your life beyond your wildest dreams.
Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
2. TAKE GODLY ADVICE
I hear many Christians say, I love God, I just hate church. If you’re in a church that is uninspiring, find one that is. If you’re in a church that offers no opportunities to serve, find one that does. Coming to church, sermons, fellowship, these are all great opportunities for you to take advice, godly advice to help you take off in your spiritual walk.
Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV)
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
To take off, you don’t just need advice. Get on Facebook, talk to your mates at the pub, there’s plenty of advice. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one, and most of them smell.
No, you need godly advice, and that is only found in His Word, and from those who live and cherish His Word. So, get to church and hang with the eagles, not turkeys!
3. TAKE STOCK
At the start of a year, it’s a great time to stop and take stock of what the Lord has given you. The greatest sin in the Western world is an ungrateful Spirit, and this cannot be us!
Your family, your talents, your job, your house, your car, your health, your church.
People are so entitled these days, but we need to be thankful! God has blessed you so much, and right now is a great time to stop, take stock, and count your blessings. You are blessed!
Psalms 103:2-5 (ESV)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
To begin to take off like an eagle, it’s time to take stock of and give thanks for the blessings God has given you. And Take joy in Him, for that is your strength…
Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)
And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
4. TAKE A STAND
There is so much in this world that is ungodly, so many decisions society makes for us. Sadly, most of us are like Lot, just sitting in Sodom, condoning what we see around us by our silent consent.
Here’s a verse for Christians in 2023…
Romans 1:32 (ESV)
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
We know abortion is murder, but we say nothing. We know God’s opinion about sexual issues, but we remain silent, and even get confused by the world’s loud, unabashed voice.
If God doesn’t judge Australia, He will have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah. Modern Christians, if not practising these evils themselves, give approval to those who do! No! It’s time we made a stand!
Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
In 2023, we must take a stand against the forces of evil and shine for Christ, regardless of what the world says against us. We must not give approval by our silence!
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
To take off for the Lord in 2023, it requires backbone, not wishbone! It requires us taking a stand on issues of righteousness, regardless of the attacks. As Jesus said,
Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
5. TAKE HEART
The next take is to take heart, because when we stand against the forces of evil in the world, they attack back. The ultimate sin in our country is not murder or adultery or stealing, it’s disagreeing with the government or media!
You can be an adulterer, and the world calls it having an affair. Your can be a murderer, and the world blames your upbringing. But heaven help you if you criticise a homosexual or fail to give them everything they lobby for!
In 2023, increasingly attacks will come, and we need to take heart, and take courage to stand for what is right. And wait for God to sort it.
Psalms 31:24 (ESV)
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalms 27:14 (ESV)
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
If you stand for Christ, it takes courage and heart, but it blesses Him and proclaims truth to a people going to hell in a handbasket!
6. TAKE A CHANCE
The next thing it will take for you to take off in 2023 is for you to take a chance. They surveyed nursing home residents and asked, what would you change about your life if you could do it over again. The overwhelming reply, I would take more chances. Great things never come from comfort zones, and an oops is better than a “What if”.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 (ESV)
In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
You don’t know the opportunities; you don’t know the destiny God has for you until you take a chance. I know it’s scary, that’s what faith is all about.
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
This church is in the heart of our community because we as leadership took a chance. We could have sat back and said, we are comfortable. But we chose to take a chance.
In a few short years, our church has grown, and our asset base is now 7,000 % more than it was. It’s not me, or my team, it is 7,000% God.
As Moses said to Joshua…
Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
To take off with the Lord in 2023, you have to be ready to take a chance!
7. TAKE ACTION
Deciding to take a chance and doing it are two separate things. You need to take action and take a step of faith.
James 2:17-18 (ESV)
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Let’s be clear, we do not preach salvation by works, you are saved by Grace alone, through faith. But you can demonstrate your faith in God in a practical way…actions speak louder than words!
What step is God asking you to take this year? Talk is cheap, what are you going to do? Some of you are paralysed, thinking you can do nothing for God, but in this church opportunities abound. Pray with out prayer teams, get out on the street sharing the gospel, help out at kids church or youth. Help prepare food, repair things, have people over for dinner, give, sing, play, invest, just get involved. Don’t just sit there, do something, and aspire to do something great for God, as CT Sudd said,
“Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
To take off in 2023, you need to take a chance on God and take a step of faith in the form of a physical action. Give legs to your decision, and step out in faith. I want to attempt things for God that are so outrageous, without God they are destined to fail.
Mark 10:27 (ESV)
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
8. TAKE OFF NOW
Whatever you have done in the past, good or bad, is finished. Whatever you hope and dream for has not yet happen. We only have today, and that’s why it is called the present. It is God’s present to you. Can you say with Paul,
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,
Whatever your season of life, are you finishing strongly? Whatever you’ve achieved in life so far, 2023 is still an opportunity to take a moment, take godly advice, take stock, take joy, take a stand, take heart, take a chance, and take a step of faith. I’m calling on you to join me and take off in 2023.
9. TAKE FLIGHT
Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I know some of us are tired, some are scared, some feel unworthy and some a too lazy and content to take off. But God calls every one of us to rise up on wings of eagles in 2023, and this church is here to help you.
Taking off requires energy, strength, and commitment, but the rewards are eternal. And I guarantee you that once you put the effort in at the start, once you spread your wings and begin to rise up, the Holy Spirit will become the wind beneath your wings and you will soar, effortlessly into the destiny He has for you.
So, who will join me this day? Who will stretch forth their eagle’s wings and fly into their God given destiny?