Spiritual Success 4- Find the Right Fellowship

Fellowship is an often misunderstood term.  So far in this series on how to achieve true spiritual success, we have looked at reading the Word of God, and prayer. The third step involves a step that is to some is strangely controversial… fellowship.

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE… UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO!

There’s a famous song by Gerry and the Pacemakers, the theme of Liverpool football club, “You’ll never walk alone.” It revolves around the basic human need we all have of fellowship, camaraderie, friends we can talk to and connect with. Yet the question of Church fellowship is oddly controversial in this day and age, because almost every week I am meeting mature, godly wonderful Christians who explain to me why they love God but hate church, and prefer to walk alone!

 

A husband and wife were taking early one Sunday morning. The husband confessed that he hates Church and refuses to go. The wife demanded three good reasons…

 

He told her. “First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don’t want to go.”

“Well, honey”, she replied, “I have three good reasons why you should go,” his wife replied. “First, the congregation is warm. Second, there are a few people there who like you. And third, you are the pastor. So get dressed.”

 

David writes,

Psalm 122:1 (ESV Strong’s)

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

 

Glad someone was glad. I get it. I’ve had many times, years even, when I wasn’t glad to go to church. We’ve all been bored by church or hurt by Christians, and many by pastors, somewhere in the past. I understand, because I too have been viciously attacked by so called men of God. I too have found Church laboured, painful, boring and not worth investing time into.

 

Rev Denny Brake once joked, “I don’t know why some people change churches – what difference does it make which one you stay home from?”

 

But the third step to becoming spiritually successful is to be actively linked in to the right church. As we examine this today, please don’t think I am threatening you in any way. Ignite is full of people who have been hurt elsewhere, and this is specifically what I have prayed for. When I took the helm here, I prayed that God would use this church to draw hurting believers together, to have them become part of a church family that loves and supports them and to fan into fame and release the gifts they have to fulfil their lives!

 

 

WHY BOTHER WITH CHURCH OR FELLOWSHIP?

 

Statistics now tell us that going to church once a month is considered a regular attendee. They also suggest that on our Coast more than half of the professed believers do not attend a church regularly. They love God but hate Church.

 

But here is the jump. Statistics, and my experience tell us that those who attend regularly and get involved in Church grow in spiritual maturity and become more spiritually successful, while those who neglect Church stagnate and fail to grow in Christ the way they should. I believe we are better together. Church is not my idea, it’s God’s idea, and we as leaders ought to seek to establish the churches He wants. The Bible says,

 

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.

 

You can be a Christian without going to church or being part of a fellowship. You can be married and not live together, but it is not the normal thing. Most married people live together, and most Christians should go to church. This passage clearly commands that we must not neglect meeting together. Studies show that if you miss Church for more than a month, the odds are almost 2 to 1 that you won’t go for the next year.

 

Yes, you can spend time in the Word at home, and yes you can pray by yourself. But there is something amazing, something special, something spiritual that happens when we get together. The Lord bestows a special blessing for unity, but how can we even have unity if one party is absent?

 

I’m this message I want to outline reasons why you should make every effort to come to church. Obviously, I’m preaching to the converted, because you are here already. If you have been hurt or turned off church elsewhere, please understand I am not shaming or accusing you, I understand, and I am offering the hand of fellowship and the pledge that I will do all in my power as a pastor to love, nurture and bless you.

 

So what does being part of a church fellowship family offer you, and why should we bother to meet together at all?

 

 

1.                   WE CAN WORSHIP TOGETHER

 

Worship is not the support act to the main event at church. It is a core reason why the church exists.

 

Something very special happens when we worship together in fellowship and unity. Sure, you can put on a CD and sing at home or in the car, but when we gather together in unity there is a sense of awe and blessing. When we worship corporately there is a great sense of belonging, even if you don’t agree with everything that goes on in your church, you can still worship in unity.

 

Psalms 22:3 (ESV Strong’s)

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

 

When we worship together in unity, there the Lord is enthroned. The Hebrew word for enthroned means several things, including inhabit, tarrying and marrying. When we praise the Lord together it is kind of like God marries in with us.

 

And let me also say, there is no set way in which we worship as a fellowship. Some raise their hands, some don’t. Some sing loudly, some don’t. Some praise God best with set songs, others like worship free form. Ignite is here to accommodate all styles of worship, and I am not going to force you to worship a certain way. When we worship together, the key ingredient I believe is unity. Unity means that we don’t criticise the way others worship, and we don’t force them to change to our way. Can you love the Lord and love each other more than you love getting your own way in worship?

 

1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV Strong’s)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling;

 

We need to worship together without anger or quarrels. And I know we all worship differently, but we can still worship together, because unity is more important that you doing your thing your way!

 

That being said, I’m hoping we all grow together in our understanding and expression of worship and fellowship. Who among us knows everything about worshipping God? Isn’t one of the great joys of church being able to live and journey and discover the truths of God together?

 

2.                   WE CAN LEARN FROM THE BIBLE TOGETHER

 

There is a trend today for churches to move away from Biblical teaching. Ignite will not be that sort of church, because the Word of God is central to everything we do. That’s why so many of us have pledged to read the Bible daily.

 

And when you come to church, I am promising to centre all our teaching on God’s Word. If it’s not in the Bible, it’s not happening at Ignite, and it’s that simple! I’m going to preach the Word, and I’m going to live the Word. Here’s what God commands me…

 

2 Timothy 4:2-3 (ESV Strong’s)

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

 

If you want church teaching to tickle your ears, not challenge you in any way and make you feel ok, find another church! I am sworn to proclaim the truth of God’s Word no matter the consequences. And I preach from what the Lord is showing me, not random stuff I am making up or some other guy’s message I read on the internet. In season, out of season, any season I will preach the Word of the Lord, like it or not!

 

And at the end of the day, you don’t want my opinion do you? You want God’s, right?

 

Some believe they can skip church and download a few good messages from YouTube or watch God TV. I have observed that people doing that tend to find preachers that, to quote the verse, “suit their passions.” Listening to recorded messages is fine, I encourage it, but as your pastor I have made a pledge to God to love you support you and stir your gifts into flame, ignite them if you will!

 

I know you can definitely find better preachers, better teachers and better sermons than mine out there online, but what you won’t find is someone who loves you and is called to pastor you like I am.

 

News flash… TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Brian’s Houston, Chuck Swindoll, as good as those preachers are, they don’t know you from Adam. They are not committed to your walk with Christ, your spiritual success, the release of your gifts… they don’t even know who you are! You cannot substitute recordings of famous preachers for a pastor who genuinely cares about you.

 

As your pastor, though my teaching and preaching might be limited next to those great leaders, I’m different because I am totally committed to seeing your life with Christ grow. If you want an advocate, if you want a pastor who cares about your life, I’m your guy! I take the calling of a shepherd very seriously.  This terrifies me so much that some time ago I started regularly praying this prayer…

 

1 Kings 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

 

I can’t be a proper leader for Ignite Christian Church, I don’t have the skills and ability. But God does, and I humbly rely on Him and His wisdom to direct this church. If I start preaching my own wisdom, if I cannot support what I’m teaching from the Bible, show me, because I need to preach God’s Word as much as you need to listen to God’s Word! Together we grow and learn through the years.

 

3.                   WE CAN FELLOWSHIP TOGETHER

 

Fellowship is a great strength we have here at Ignite. After church, everyone stays for ages, and when we have a need, scores of people support it in prayer and other ways.

 

Acts 2:42 (ESV Strong’s)

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

 

The early Church understood fellowship, as they sold belongings and cared for each other, and they moved from house to house. They hung out, in other words, they fellowshipped.

 

Fellowship is not talking about football results or TV celebrities, it is talking about Jesus. It is praying for each other. It’s caring for each other. It is Dig In and connect groups and men’s and women’s groups. It’s growing closer as friends, learning to trust each other, stirring one another towards greatness in Christ. You can’t get this by yourself skipping church, and believers who are dislocated from church are missing out on this key ingredient of growth in fellowship.

 

I have dislocated my shoulders many times and had operations to secure them in their sockets. When dislocated there is incredible pain and the arm is basically useless, but it’s still attached to my body. That’s what we are like without fellowship. We are still Christians, still part of the body, but in pain and not really useful to the body. The cry of my heart is to put dislocated Christians back in the socket, back in the place in the body where they belong. And as many of you have experienced, even when you get back there is a period of pain as you heal. I want ignite to be a place of healing and knitting in.

 

4.                   WE CAN ENCOURAGE TOGETHER

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV Strong’s)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

Believers should encourage one another, and that’s why I insist on unity in the fellowship at Ignite. If you have an issue with something, or with someone, talk to a leader, seek advice, seek help, but don’t make your way around spreading gossip and discord. We need to be careful to guard our mouths and only speak words of encouragement and love to build others up!

 

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.

 

Church should be a place where we encourage one another, and no issue, unless it directly contradicts God’s Word, no issue is bigger than the love, unity and encouragement we should have one for another. Please church, don’t love your own opinion more than you love each other! Don’t get so focussed on an issue or what you believe is true that you hurt others, or attack others.

 

5.                   WE CAN EVANGELISE TOGETHER

 

If we want to see people come to know Jesus, nothing beats an on fire, ignited church!

 

Acts 2:46-47 (ESV Strong’s)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

When the early church functioned properly, they had the Word, fellowship, worship and people were added daily. We need to reach out to our community and see people coming to Jesus!

 

Together we are better in sharing the gospel. That’s why Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, not in their own. And when we share our faith, let’s do so kindly, gently and respectfully…

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong’s)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

Coming up we are going to start reaching out to our community, first by prayer walking the streets and then by sharing the good news that Jesus loves them!

 

Romans 10:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

It’s time to take our beautiful feet and start walking the dirty, dusty streets of our community, sharing the love of our fellowship with them!

 

6.                   WE CAN SERVE TOGETHER

 

If you are dislocated from church, you cut off almost all the avenues of Christian service. You might still share the gospel to odd people you meet, but how do you follow up those who make commitments? You can’t do it all on your own, and neither were you designed to do it all on your own.

 

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV Strong’s)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

 

Here at Ignite, I don’t do everything. I cannot do everything, I’m busy enough and I still work in my job! So my plan, which is really God’s plan, is that I stir up gifts that are within others, and let them serve doing what they love and are gifted at. If you are here, and have a gift in your heart, do 101 and 201 (next week), and let me open the door for you to serve the Lord here.

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 

My calling as a pastor is not to build a big building. It’s not to manage a big corporation, it’s not to become a famous preacher. My calling is to shepherd, it is to stir up within you the gifts of service you have, and then to open the door for them to be used. My job is to train and equip you to become everything you ought to be in Christ, then allow you to operate in your gifting!

 

One of the greatest reasons Christians have to go to church is so they can serve the Lord better. You can get trained, equiped and inspired, and then through the Church find a way of expressing that gift. There is a particular satisfaction that comes from serving the Lord in your gifting, and Church is the ideal place to do this.

 

UNITED WE STAND

 

So the first step towards becoming spiritually successful is to read God’s Word every day, the second is to pray without ceasing, and the third is to not just attend church, but to become a part of the church fellowship. And I would love you to be a part of Ignite Christian Church.  I would love the joy and the honour of watching your life become fruitful for Jesus. And I guarantee you, this place is good soil, yielding 30, 60 and 100 fold!

 

Yet Ignite church is under attack. Yes unchurched people might attack us. Yes the government tries to paralyse us with paperwork and legislation. Sometimes even other Christians might attack and criticise us. But by far the greatest threat we have to this body of believers comes from within our own fellowship!

 

Disunity kills churches that should be full of life. Beware of anything that disrupts unity in the fellowship, even if you feel you are right and the others are wrong!

 

Colossians 3:13-14 (ESV Strong’s)

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

Look, I understand that we are human, and we have opinions about people, things and the way we do things. But let me be frank, unless something is out and out sin as described in the Bible, I cannot tolerate threats to the beautiful unity we have here at Ignite. I’ve seen churches spilt over the colour of carpets or the placement of a cross or an altar. I was even at a Baptist church once that nearly split over an excess water bill, because there were too many baptisms!

 

I don’t expect you to agree with everything, or everyone. But you must commit to disagreeing agreeably, not gossiping to others about whatever your problem is and stirring up trouble. Jesus said a house divided will not stand, because He understood the destructive power of disunity.

 

When we elevate our personal preferences or petty disagreements above fellowship, unity and our love for each other, let me be bold here, I believe it is sin, and the devil uses this to destroy God’s work in a church. So before you get on your high hobby horse and cause strife, ask yourself if Jesus would be talking this way.  Remember, this is the same Jesus who prayed…

 

John 17:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

 

Would Paul talk this way, the Paul that said,

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV Strong’s)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Let’s be united in fellowship!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=2429

The Armour of God- Part 2

We studied our enemy last week, and so this week we are going to look at the first 3 parts of the armour of God.

Now remember, we are fighting the ruler of the Kingdom of the air, (Ephesians 2:2), so we are engaged in a spiritual battle.  We need to stand and hold our ground firstly, then ultimately attack, but standing firm and holding ground is our first priority.

Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

I actually love how the Message Bible translates this passage…

Ephesians 6:11- 13

So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

So, when facing the enemy, we know He will attack in many areas, and we highlighted 3 last week, society, the church and importantly, your mind. This last one is where we will concentrate our defence.

The Bible never instructs you to flirt with the devil. It does not tell you to collaborate with him. But it does tell you to resist him…

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

If you struggle with a sin, run like crazy! If you struggle with sex, don’t visit porn sites. If you struggle with gossip, don’t talk to certain people. If you struggle with anger, find a way to defuse yourself before you explode! If you struggle with substance abuse

This is why we don’t like seeing Christians dating Non believers. Aside from the Biblical commandment to not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), it just makes sense. You might think you will win them to Christ, but 9 times out of 10 they will win you away from Christ. Don’t flirt with it, it’s a tough gig and it is just not worth it most often.

Flip Wilson was an African American comedian in the 1970s, and he had one famous skit about a black lady who bought a dress and, when her husband asked her why she bought it, she said it was not her fault because, “The devil made me do it!”

That is not resisting, right?

And collaborating, well we know about that from the war. Collaborators were those who, when the Nazis invaded, decided to work with them rather than join the resistance. After the war, the men were shot and the women had their heads shaved and were ostracised from the community for the rest of their life.

You don’t want to flirt with the devil, or collaborate, you need to resist.

PUT ON THE FULL ARMOUR Of GOD

Armour-of-god-300x154.jpgIf you are going to resist, put in the full armour of God

The Greek word for “full armour” is panoplia, which refers to the complete armour of a heavily armed infantry soldier. It is not light, it is sometimes a little uncomfortable, but it is the maximum protection for a soldier.

With this you can not only stand, you can withstand. So you can stand your ground, and you can withstand the onslaughts of the enemy and his troops… the underlying meaning of withstanding is resisting.

So let’s start to look at the various pieces of armour God gives you.

1. THE BELT OF TRUTH

The first piece of armor mentioned is this belt of truth.

IN Ephesians 6:13, it says Stand firm, there’s that word again, with the belt of truth. In older translations it says, gird your loins, which is very poetic, but it actually means tighten your belt.

Now the Greek word for truth is halētheia, which refers to the state of the heart answering to God’s truth; or the agreement of our convictions with God’s revelation.

Certainly we must be faithful in holding the truth of God’s word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply God’s truth to our daily lives. As we test everything by the truth, we find strength and protection in the combat.

So the belt is not our truth, it is God’s truth, and because it is a belt or a girdle, it surrounds the central point of your body. In fact, the loins was described by ancients as the seat of power. So “To smite through the loins” is to strike a fatal blow. “To lay affliction upon the loins” is to afflict heavily.

And the belt or girdle holds everything together, it is the common bond of the whole of your body armour.

You see, truth gives unity to and surrounds all the different virtues, and it also gives determination and consistency to your character. All the virtues are exercised within the sphere of truth.

Compromise truth, and you compromise everything!

Now my wife pointed out to me that at some point everybody lies. Who has ever ticked a box on the internet labeled “I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions” without actually reading them? I would argue that I have skimmed them, but there you go! However, outside of that, we need to be totally honest.

Now we all know that when your belt slips, it can be very embarrassing. Try running, jumping or fighting with your pants around your ankles because your belt has slipped! Not exactly efficient, in fact it could be dangerous and cause your demise, right?

I scuba dived a few weeks ago, and tightened my weight belt before descending.  The pressure caused my 7ml wetsuit to contract, and my belt was slipping. I had to stop swimming and continually haul it up, otherwise I could lose it and float too fast to the surface.  To be honest, it distracted me and ruined my first dive.

So what does this mean for you?  It means you need to truthful and honest, and frankly some of you aren’t doing that. You need to be careful at being honest 100% of the time, and not bend or warp the truth to suit your own ends.

I know Christian businessmen who lie and are not honest. I know Christian mums who lie to their kids. I even know pastors who lie and twist the truth so they can get their own way. No matter who you are, no matter what the excuse or circumstances, it is not right!

So, are you absolutely honest in everything you do, or do you bend the truth when it suits?

In my life and business, I am a stickler for honesty. I will not permit my staff to lie either, so if someone calls and I don’t want to talk to them, they are instructed to say, “Darin can’t talk right now,” they cannot say, “Darin is not here.”

Even with the kids, how do you speak to them? If they ask for something in a shop, do you say ,”We can’t afford that?”  What about with friends? What about at church? Do you say the occasional “white lie” to get your own way.

“White lie”, now there’s a fallacy… All lies are black in God’s eyes!

Integrity is a bit like pregnancy… You cannot be half pregnant, or 90% pregnant! You either are pregnant or you are not. Same with integrity. If you are honest 98% of the time, then you are dishonest. You can’t have 98% integrity!

And remember, the belt is what your sword hangs on, so if you want to be powerfully used by God, you can’t be a liar!

And if you want to stand against and be protected from the devil, the first thing you need to do is to covenant with God to be truthful… 100% honest. With yourself, and with others!  This is the first piece of the Armour of God.

And this leads to the next piece of armour…

2. BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The breastplate is the Greek word thorax, which we use of the central part of an insect body, which looks a little bit like the original breastplate piece of armour.

It was a form of protection from the neck to the bottom of the ribs, and consisted of 2 pieces, a front and a corresponding back section.  Each section could be solid, or chain mail, often with pieces of horn or other hard material sown in for protection.

It’s a bit like an ancient Kevlar vest.

The breastplate protects the vital organs of a soldier, and it needs to be serviceable but also comfortable. It guards your heart, stomach and other organs.

The Greek word for righteousness is dikaiosune is “the character or quality of being right or just”;  It is used to denote an attribute of God, e.g., Rom. 3:5, the context of which shows that “the righteousness of God” means essentially His right nature, which is the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.

Essentially, righteousness is doing right, not by our standards but by God’s.

So what this element of the armour tells us is that doing right protects our heart.

Jeremiah tells us that the natural heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked…

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?

 

Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts…

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time, which means that sometimes, our hearts are vulnerable, especially if we flirt or collaborate instead of resist.

Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place, because one is fastened onto the other.

You see, without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God by trying to be right. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1), so trying to be good enough is never going to protect you properly… It has to be His righteousness!

We must choose to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (He is the vine, we are the branches, devoid of life if not connected to Him…John 15:5).

If we truly have accepted Christ into our lives, we can see ourselves as being “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account. It’s His righteousness, not ours!

So it is almost like Jesus looks at our righteousness, which is like filthy rags, and says, “Oh, that will never protect you, you’d better put mine on!”

We “put it on” by seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness above everything else (Matthew 6:33). That shows you how much God values righteousness and integrity. Yet so many of us compromise our righteousness and integrity for things, for stuff, yet if we seek first His righteousness, we get the stuff we need anyway!

When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through (Ephesians 6:16).

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception (Proverbs 8:20; Psalm 23:3).

Why not be like the prophet Daniel?

Daniel 6:4

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Daniel’s steadfastness, strength of character and faith grew out of his habits of holiness. He consistently did the right thing, and the more he did right the harder it became for him to do wrong.

So righteousness becomes a habit if we put on the breastplate daily. Studies show that of we maintain a behaviour for 30 days straight it become a life changing habit. It becomes our norm, so whether it is having a quiet time, praying or flossing, making something valuable into a habit takes 30 days but is life changing.

So if you put this piece of the armour on daily, you will, over time, see you actions change to be more Christ-like, and less you-like! And your heart will be protected.

And remember, this piece of armour is protecting your heart!

Remember Philippians 4:7

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

Do you want peace? Then be righteous, because a righteous man has no fears of being found out. This week I met someone who had tried to dig up dirt on me. Was I ashamed to see them? Not at all! Why? Because I knew in my heart I had acted righteously with regards them. I had peace. My heart was guarded.

So righteousness is the way to guard your heart and mind, and the more you put it on, the more your ways will become truly righteous, because you will conforms to His will,

3. SANDALS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

Ephesians 6:15

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

What Paul is referring to here is the caligal, or Roman military boots. These were one of the most important parts of the Roman soldier’s equipment. They were designed for marches over every kind of tough terrain, and it has even been said that the attention given to soldiers’ boots was the secret of Roman conquests across the then known world.

The gospel of peace is the message that Jesus gave to those who trust in Him (John 14:27; Romans 10:15).

And it is not just the Gospel message, because when you come to Christ you also receive the assurance from God that you are His child and nothing can snatch you out of His hands (John 10:29; 1 John 5:13).

The word readiness implies constant vigilance. A victorious soldier had to be always ready and prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came.

You see, a Roman soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how good the rest of his armour was; the enemy had him, and he would be doomed.

When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan. Second Timothy 4:2 says to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”

So the gospel itself is to be the firm footing of the believer, and his walk needs to be worthy of it and therefore a testimony in regard to the gospel.

These shoes are defensive helping us to stand our ground, and also offensive as we attack by sharing the good news with others…

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

So let me finish this message by asking you, how’s your belt, how’s your breastplate and how’s your shoes?

Do you struggle to live the life of integrity you long to live? Are you fearful to share your faith with others?

Take a few moments right now to examine your heart carefully,

Jeremiah 20:12

Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous

and probe the heart and mind,

Let Him probe your heart and mind right now. If you long to have truth and integrity as the foundation of your life, and if you feel unrighteous but long to be more righteous and Christ-like, respond to His Spirit and ask Him to fill you with integrity, truth, righteousness and the gospel.  Then you have pu on the first three pars of the Armour of God!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=1519

Spiritual Success 4- Find the Right Fellowship

Fellowship is an often misunderstood term.  So far in this series on how to achieve true spiritual success, we have looked at reading the Word of God, and prayer. The third step involves a step that is to some is strangely controversial… fellowship.

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE… UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO!

There’s a famous song by Gerry and the Pacemakers, the theme of Liverpool football club, “You’ll never walk alone.” It revolves around the basic human need we all have of fellowship, camaraderie, friends we can talk to and connect with. Yet the question of Church fellowship is oddly controversial in this day and age, because almost every week I am meeting mature, godly wonderful Christians who explain to me why they love God but hate church, and prefer to walk alone!

 

A husband and wife were taking early one Sunday morning. The husband confessed that he hates Church and refuses to go. The wife demanded three good reasons…

 

He told her. “First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don’t want to go.”

“Well, honey”, she replied, “I have three good reasons why you should go,” his wife replied. “First, the congregation is warm. Second, there are a few people there who like you. And third, you are the pastor. So get dressed.”

 

David writes,

Psalm 122:1 (ESV Strong’s)

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

 

Glad someone was glad. I get it. I’ve had many times, years even, when I wasn’t glad to go to church. We’ve all been bored by church or hurt by Christians, and many by pastors, somewhere in the past. I understand, because I too have been viciously attacked by so called men of God. I too have found Church laboured, painful, boring and not worth investing time into.

 

Rev Denny Brake once joked, “I don’t know why some people change churches – what difference does it make which one you stay home from?”

 

But the third step to becoming spiritually successful is to be actively linked in to the right church. As we examine this today, please don’t think I am threatening you in any way. Ignite is full of people who have been hurt elsewhere, and this is specifically what I have prayed for. When I took the helm here, I prayed that God would use this church to draw hurting believers together, to have them become part of a church family that loves and supports them and to fan into fame and release the gifts they have to fulfil their lives!

 

 

WHY BOTHER WITH CHURCH OR FELLOWSHIP?

 

Statistics now tell us that going to church once a month is considered a regular attendee. They also suggest that on our Coast more than half of the professed believers do not attend a church regularly. They love God but hate Church.

 

But here is the jump. Statistics, and my experience tell us that those who attend regularly and get involved in Church grow in spiritual maturity and become more spiritually successful, while those who neglect Church stagnate and fail to grow in Christ the way they should. I believe we are better together. Church is not my idea, it’s God’s idea, and we as leaders ought to seek to establish the churches He wants. The Bible says,

 

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.

 

You can be a Christian without going to church or being part of a fellowship. You can be married and not live together, but it is not the normal thing. Most married people live together, and most Christians should go to church. This passage clearly commands that we must not neglect meeting together. Studies show that if you miss Church for more than a month, the odds are almost 2 to 1 that you won’t go for the next year.

 

Yes, you can spend time in the Word at home, and yes you can pray by yourself. But there is something amazing, something special, something spiritual that happens when we get together. The Lord bestows a special blessing for unity, but how can we even have unity if one party is absent?

 

I’m this message I want to outline reasons why you should make every effort to come to church. Obviously, I’m preaching to the converted, because you are here already. If you have been hurt or turned off church elsewhere, please understand I am not shaming or accusing you, I understand, and I am offering the hand of fellowship and the pledge that I will do all in my power as a pastor to love, nurture and bless you.

 

So what does being part of a church fellowship family offer you, and why should we bother to meet together at all?

 

 

1.                   WE CAN WORSHIP TOGETHER

 

Worship is not the support act to the main event at church. It is a core reason why the church exists.

 

Something very special happens when we worship together in fellowship and unity. Sure, you can put on a CD and sing at home or in the car, but when we gather together in unity there is a sense of awe and blessing. When we worship corporately there is a great sense of belonging, even if you don’t agree with everything that goes on in your church, you can still worship in unity.

 

Psalms 22:3 (ESV Strong’s)

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

 

When we worship together in unity, there the Lord is enthroned. The Hebrew word for enthroned means several things, including inhabit, tarrying and marrying. When we praise the Lord together it is kind of like God marries in with us.

 

And let me also say, there is no set way in which we worship as a fellowship. Some raise their hands, some don’t. Some sing loudly, some don’t. Some praise God best with set songs, others like worship free form. Ignite is here to accommodate all styles of worship, and I am not going to force you to worship a certain way. When we worship together, the key ingredient I believe is unity. Unity means that we don’t criticise the way others worship, and we don’t force them to change to our way. Can you love the Lord and love each other more than you love getting your own way in worship?

 

1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV Strong’s)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling;

 

We need to worship together without anger or quarrels. And I know we all worship differently, but we can still worship together, because unity is more important that you doing your thing your way!

 

That being said, I’m hoping we all grow together in our understanding and expression of worship and fellowship. Who among us knows everything about worshipping God? Isn’t one of the great joys of church being able to live and journey and discover the truths of God together?

 

2.                   WE CAN LEARN FROM THE BIBLE TOGETHER

 

There is a trend today for churches to move away from Biblical teaching. Ignite will not be that sort of church, because the Word of God is central to everything we do. That’s why so many of us have pledged to read the Bible daily.

 

And when you come to church, I am promising to centre all our teaching on God’s Word. If it’s not in the Bible, it’s not happening at Ignite, and it’s that simple! I’m going to preach the Word, and I’m going to live the Word. Here’s what God commands me…

 

2 Timothy 4:2-3 (ESV Strong’s)

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

 

If you want church teaching to tickle your ears, not challenge you in any way and make you feel ok, find another church! I am sworn to proclaim the truth of God’s Word no matter the consequences. And I preach from what the Lord is showing me, not random stuff I am making up or some other guy’s message I read on the internet. In season, out of season, any season I will preach the Word of the Lord, like it or not!

 

And at the end of the day, you don’t want my opinion do you? You want God’s, right?

 

Some believe they can skip church and download a few good messages from YouTube or watch God TV. I have observed that people doing that tend to find preachers that, to quote the verse, “suit their passions.” Listening to recorded messages is fine, I encourage it, but as your pastor I have made a pledge to God to love you support you and stir your gifts into flame, ignite them if you will!

 

I know you can definitely find better preachers, better teachers and better sermons than mine out there online, but what you won’t find is someone who loves you and is called to pastor you like I am.

 

News flash… TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Brian’s Houston, Chuck Swindoll, as good as those preachers are, they don’t know you from Adam. They are not committed to your walk with Christ, your spiritual success, the release of your gifts… they don’t even know who you are! You cannot substitute recordings of famous preachers for a pastor who genuinely cares about you.

 

As your pastor, though my teaching and preaching might be limited next to those great leaders, I’m different because I am totally committed to seeing your life with Christ grow. If you want an advocate, if you want a pastor who cares about your life, I’m your guy! I take the calling of a shepherd very seriously.  This terrifies me so much that some time ago I started regularly praying this prayer…

 

1 Kings 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

 

I can’t be a proper leader for Ignite Christian Church, I don’t have the skills and ability. But God does, and I humbly rely on Him and His wisdom to direct this church. If I start preaching my own wisdom, if I cannot support what I’m teaching from the Bible, show me, because I need to preach God’s Word as much as you need to listen to God’s Word! Together we grow and learn through the years.

 

3.                   WE CAN FELLOWSHIP TOGETHER

 

Fellowship is a great strength we have here at Ignite. After church, everyone stays for ages, and when we have a need, scores of people support it in prayer and other ways.

 

Acts 2:42 (ESV Strong’s)

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

 

The early Church understood fellowship, as they sold belongings and cared for each other, and they moved from house to house. They hung out, in other words, they fellowshipped.

 

Fellowship is not talking about football results or TV celebrities, it is talking about Jesus. It is praying for each other. It’s caring for each other. It is Dig In and connect groups and men’s and women’s groups. It’s growing closer as friends, learning to trust each other, stirring one another towards greatness in Christ. You can’t get this by yourself skipping church, and believers who are dislocated from church are missing out on this key ingredient of growth in fellowship.

 

I have dislocated my shoulders many times and had operations to secure them in their sockets. When dislocated there is incredible pain and the arm is basically useless, but it’s still attached to my body. That’s what we are like without fellowship. We are still Christians, still part of the body, but in pain and not really useful to the body. The cry of my heart is to put dislocated Christians back in the socket, back in the place in the body where they belong. And as many of you have experienced, even when you get back there is a period of pain as you heal. I want ignite to be a place of healing and knitting in.

 

4.                   WE CAN ENCOURAGE TOGETHER

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV Strong’s)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

Believers should encourage one another, and that’s why I insist on unity in the fellowship at Ignite. If you have an issue with something, or with someone, talk to a leader, seek advice, seek help, but don’t make your way around spreading gossip and discord. We need to be careful to guard our mouths and only speak words of encouragement and love to build others up!

 

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.

 

Church should be a place where we encourage one another, and no issue, unless it directly contradicts God’s Word, no issue is bigger than the love, unity and encouragement we should have one for another. Please church, don’t love your own opinion more than you love each other! Don’t get so focussed on an issue or what you believe is true that you hurt others, or attack others.

 

5.                   WE CAN EVANGELISE TOGETHER

 

If we want to see people come to know Jesus, nothing beats an on fire, ignited church!

 

Acts 2:46-47 (ESV Strong’s)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

When the early church functioned properly, they had the Word, fellowship, worship and people were added daily. We need to reach out to our community and see people coming to Jesus!

 

Together we are better in sharing the gospel. That’s why Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, not in their own. And when we share our faith, let’s do so kindly, gently and respectfully…

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong’s)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

Coming up we are going to start reaching out to our community, first by prayer walking the streets and then by sharing the good news that Jesus loves them!

 

Romans 10:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

It’s time to take our beautiful feet and start walking the dirty, dusty streets of our community, sharing the love of our fellowship with them!

 

6.                   WE CAN SERVE TOGETHER

 

If you are dislocated from church, you cut off almost all the avenues of Christian service. You might still share the gospel to odd people you meet, but how do you follow up those who make commitments? You can’t do it all on your own, and neither were you designed to do it all on your own.

 

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV Strong’s)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

 

Here at Ignite, I don’t do everything. I cannot do everything, I’m busy enough and I still work in my job! So my plan, which is really God’s plan, is that I stir up gifts that are within others, and let them serve doing what they love and are gifted at. If you are here, and have a gift in your heart, do 101 and 201 (next week), and let me open the door for you to serve the Lord here.

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 

My calling as a pastor is not to build a big building. It’s not to manage a big corporation, it’s not to become a famous preacher. My calling is to shepherd, it is to stir up within you the gifts of service you have, and then to open the door for them to be used. My job is to train and equip you to become everything you ought to be in Christ, then allow you to operate in your gifting!

 

One of the greatest reasons Christians have to go to church is so they can serve the Lord better. You can get trained, equiped and inspired, and then through the Church find a way of expressing that gift. There is a particular satisfaction that comes from serving the Lord in your gifting, and Church is the ideal place to do this.

 

UNITED WE STAND

 

So the first step towards becoming spiritually successful is to read God’s Word every day, the second is to pray without ceasing, and the third is to not just attend church, but to become a part of the church fellowship. And I would love you to be a part of Ignite Christian Church.  I would love the joy and the honour of watching your life become fruitful for Jesus. And I guarantee you, this place is good soil, yielding 30, 60 and 100 fold!

 

Yet Ignite church is under attack. Yes unchurched people might attack us. Yes the government tries to paralyse us with paperwork and legislation. Sometimes even other Christians might attack and criticise us. But by far the greatest threat we have to this body of believers comes from within our own fellowship!

 

Disunity kills churches that should be full of life. Beware of anything that disrupts unity in the fellowship, even if you feel you are right and the others are wrong!

 

Colossians 3:13-14 (ESV Strong’s)

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

Look, I understand that we are human, and we have opinions about people, things and the way we do things. But let me be frank, unless something is out and out sin as described in the Bible, I cannot tolerate threats to the beautiful unity we have here at Ignite. I’ve seen churches spilt over the colour of carpets or the placement of a cross or an altar. I was even at a Baptist church once that nearly split over an excess water bill, because there were too many baptisms!

 

I don’t expect you to agree with everything, or everyone. But you must commit to disagreeing agreeably, not gossiping to others about whatever your problem is and stirring up trouble. Jesus said a house divided will not stand, because He understood the destructive power of disunity.

 

When we elevate our personal preferences or petty disagreements above fellowship, unity and our love for each other, let me be bold here, I believe it is sin, and the devil uses this to destroy God’s work in a church. So before you get on your high hobby horse and cause strife, ask yourself if Jesus would be talking this way.  Remember, this is the same Jesus who prayed…

 

John 17:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

 

Would Paul talk this way, the Paul that said,

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV Strong’s)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Let’s be united in fellowship!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=2429

The Armour of God- Part 2

We studied our enemy last week, and so this week we are going to look at the first 3 parts of the armour of God.

Now remember, we are fighting the ruler of the Kingdom of the air, (Ephesians 2:2), so we are engaged in a spiritual battle.  We need to stand and hold our ground firstly, then ultimately attack, but standing firm and holding ground is our first priority.

Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

I actually love how the Message Bible translates this passage…

Ephesians 6:11- 13

So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

So, when facing the enemy, we know He will attack in many areas, and we highlighted 3 last week, society, the church and importantly, your mind. This last one is where we will concentrate our defence.

The Bible never instructs you to flirt with the devil. It does not tell you to collaborate with him. But it does tell you to resist him…

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

If you struggle with a sin, run like crazy! If you struggle with sex, don’t visit porn sites. If you struggle with gossip, don’t talk to certain people. If you struggle with anger, find a way to defuse yourself before you explode! If you struggle with substance abuse

This is why we don’t like seeing Christians dating Non believers. Aside from the Biblical commandment to not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), it just makes sense. You might think you will win them to Christ, but 9 times out of 10 they will win you away from Christ. Don’t flirt with it, it’s a tough gig and it is just not worth it most often.

Flip Wilson was an African American comedian in the 1970s, and he had one famous skit about a black lady who bought a dress and, when her husband asked her why she bought it, she said it was not her fault because, “The devil made me do it!”

That is not resisting, right?

And collaborating, well we know about that from the war. Collaborators were those who, when the Nazis invaded, decided to work with them rather than join the resistance. After the war, the men were shot and the women had their heads shaved and were ostracised from the community for the rest of their life.

You don’t want to flirt with the devil, or collaborate, you need to resist.

PUT ON THE FULL ARMOUR Of GOD

Armour-of-god-300x154.jpgIf you are going to resist, put in the full armour of God

The Greek word for “full armour” is panoplia, which refers to the complete armour of a heavily armed infantry soldier. It is not light, it is sometimes a little uncomfortable, but it is the maximum protection for a soldier.

With this you can not only stand, you can withstand. So you can stand your ground, and you can withstand the onslaughts of the enemy and his troops… the underlying meaning of withstanding is resisting.

So let’s start to look at the various pieces of armour God gives you.

1. THE BELT OF TRUTH

The first piece of armor mentioned is this belt of truth.

IN Ephesians 6:13, it says Stand firm, there’s that word again, with the belt of truth. In older translations it says, gird your loins, which is very poetic, but it actually means tighten your belt.

Now the Greek word for truth is halētheia, which refers to the state of the heart answering to God’s truth; or the agreement of our convictions with God’s revelation.

Certainly we must be faithful in holding the truth of God’s word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply God’s truth to our daily lives. As we test everything by the truth, we find strength and protection in the combat.

So the belt is not our truth, it is God’s truth, and because it is a belt or a girdle, it surrounds the central point of your body. In fact, the loins was described by ancients as the seat of power. So “To smite through the loins” is to strike a fatal blow. “To lay affliction upon the loins” is to afflict heavily.

And the belt or girdle holds everything together, it is the common bond of the whole of your body armour.

You see, truth gives unity to and surrounds all the different virtues, and it also gives determination and consistency to your character. All the virtues are exercised within the sphere of truth.

Compromise truth, and you compromise everything!

Now my wife pointed out to me that at some point everybody lies. Who has ever ticked a box on the internet labeled “I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions” without actually reading them? I would argue that I have skimmed them, but there you go! However, outside of that, we need to be totally honest.

Now we all know that when your belt slips, it can be very embarrassing. Try running, jumping or fighting with your pants around your ankles because your belt has slipped! Not exactly efficient, in fact it could be dangerous and cause your demise, right?

I scuba dived a few weeks ago, and tightened my weight belt before descending.  The pressure caused my 7ml wetsuit to contract, and my belt was slipping. I had to stop swimming and continually haul it up, otherwise I could lose it and float too fast to the surface.  To be honest, it distracted me and ruined my first dive.

So what does this mean for you?  It means you need to truthful and honest, and frankly some of you aren’t doing that. You need to be careful at being honest 100% of the time, and not bend or warp the truth to suit your own ends.

I know Christian businessmen who lie and are not honest. I know Christian mums who lie to their kids. I even know pastors who lie and twist the truth so they can get their own way. No matter who you are, no matter what the excuse or circumstances, it is not right!

So, are you absolutely honest in everything you do, or do you bend the truth when it suits?

In my life and business, I am a stickler for honesty. I will not permit my staff to lie either, so if someone calls and I don’t want to talk to them, they are instructed to say, “Darin can’t talk right now,” they cannot say, “Darin is not here.”

Even with the kids, how do you speak to them? If they ask for something in a shop, do you say ,”We can’t afford that?”  What about with friends? What about at church? Do you say the occasional “white lie” to get your own way.

“White lie”, now there’s a fallacy… All lies are black in God’s eyes!

Integrity is a bit like pregnancy… You cannot be half pregnant, or 90% pregnant! You either are pregnant or you are not. Same with integrity. If you are honest 98% of the time, then you are dishonest. You can’t have 98% integrity!

And remember, the belt is what your sword hangs on, so if you want to be powerfully used by God, you can’t be a liar!

And if you want to stand against and be protected from the devil, the first thing you need to do is to covenant with God to be truthful… 100% honest. With yourself, and with others!  This is the first piece of the Armour of God.

And this leads to the next piece of armour…

2. BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The breastplate is the Greek word thorax, which we use of the central part of an insect body, which looks a little bit like the original breastplate piece of armour.

It was a form of protection from the neck to the bottom of the ribs, and consisted of 2 pieces, a front and a corresponding back section.  Each section could be solid, or chain mail, often with pieces of horn or other hard material sown in for protection.

It’s a bit like an ancient Kevlar vest.

The breastplate protects the vital organs of a soldier, and it needs to be serviceable but also comfortable. It guards your heart, stomach and other organs.

The Greek word for righteousness is dikaiosune is “the character or quality of being right or just”;  It is used to denote an attribute of God, e.g., Rom. 3:5, the context of which shows that “the righteousness of God” means essentially His right nature, which is the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.

Essentially, righteousness is doing right, not by our standards but by God’s.

So what this element of the armour tells us is that doing right protects our heart.

Jeremiah tells us that the natural heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked…

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?

 

Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts…

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time, which means that sometimes, our hearts are vulnerable, especially if we flirt or collaborate instead of resist.

Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place, because one is fastened onto the other.

You see, without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God by trying to be right. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1), so trying to be good enough is never going to protect you properly… It has to be His righteousness!

We must choose to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (He is the vine, we are the branches, devoid of life if not connected to Him…John 15:5).

If we truly have accepted Christ into our lives, we can see ourselves as being “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account. It’s His righteousness, not ours!

So it is almost like Jesus looks at our righteousness, which is like filthy rags, and says, “Oh, that will never protect you, you’d better put mine on!”

We “put it on” by seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness above everything else (Matthew 6:33). That shows you how much God values righteousness and integrity. Yet so many of us compromise our righteousness and integrity for things, for stuff, yet if we seek first His righteousness, we get the stuff we need anyway!

When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through (Ephesians 6:16).

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception (Proverbs 8:20; Psalm 23:3).

Why not be like the prophet Daniel?

Daniel 6:4

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Daniel’s steadfastness, strength of character and faith grew out of his habits of holiness. He consistently did the right thing, and the more he did right the harder it became for him to do wrong.

So righteousness becomes a habit if we put on the breastplate daily. Studies show that of we maintain a behaviour for 30 days straight it become a life changing habit. It becomes our norm, so whether it is having a quiet time, praying or flossing, making something valuable into a habit takes 30 days but is life changing.

So if you put this piece of the armour on daily, you will, over time, see you actions change to be more Christ-like, and less you-like! And your heart will be protected.

And remember, this piece of armour is protecting your heart!

Remember Philippians 4:7

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

Do you want peace? Then be righteous, because a righteous man has no fears of being found out. This week I met someone who had tried to dig up dirt on me. Was I ashamed to see them? Not at all! Why? Because I knew in my heart I had acted righteously with regards them. I had peace. My heart was guarded.

So righteousness is the way to guard your heart and mind, and the more you put it on, the more your ways will become truly righteous, because you will conforms to His will,

3. SANDALS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

Ephesians 6:15

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

What Paul is referring to here is the caligal, or Roman military boots. These were one of the most important parts of the Roman soldier’s equipment. They were designed for marches over every kind of tough terrain, and it has even been said that the attention given to soldiers’ boots was the secret of Roman conquests across the then known world.

The gospel of peace is the message that Jesus gave to those who trust in Him (John 14:27; Romans 10:15).

And it is not just the Gospel message, because when you come to Christ you also receive the assurance from God that you are His child and nothing can snatch you out of His hands (John 10:29; 1 John 5:13).

The word readiness implies constant vigilance. A victorious soldier had to be always ready and prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came.

You see, a Roman soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how good the rest of his armour was; the enemy had him, and he would be doomed.

When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan. Second Timothy 4:2 says to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”

So the gospel itself is to be the firm footing of the believer, and his walk needs to be worthy of it and therefore a testimony in regard to the gospel.

These shoes are defensive helping us to stand our ground, and also offensive as we attack by sharing the good news with others…

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

So let me finish this message by asking you, how’s your belt, how’s your breastplate and how’s your shoes?

Do you struggle to live the life of integrity you long to live? Are you fearful to share your faith with others?

Take a few moments right now to examine your heart carefully,

Jeremiah 20:12

Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous

and probe the heart and mind,

Let Him probe your heart and mind right now. If you long to have truth and integrity as the foundation of your life, and if you feel unrighteous but long to be more righteous and Christ-like, respond to His Spirit and ask Him to fill you with integrity, truth, righteousness and the gospel.  Then you have pu on the first three pars of the Armour of God!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=1519

Spiritual Success 6- Shining and Sharing Your Faith

Shining and sharing your faith is an important part of becoming a spiritual success. And we have seen that the steps involve reading the Bible daily, praying constantly, fellowshipping at the right church, giving of yourself and your money, and now the final step in becoming a true spiritual success is shining and sharing your faith.

WE ARE CHRIST’S BILLBOARDS

 

As you drive along the motorway you see billboards, and they are designed to capture your attention. They are easily seen, and often have a slogan in them that intrigues, shocks or otherwise makes you look.

Most people in our nation will never enter a church building apart from maybe a wedding or funeral. They will never read the Bible. You and I are the only Bible they will ever see, the only contact with a church they will ever experience.

 

Romans 10:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

You are the billboard, you are the one who is sent and you sharing your faith, church, not the pastor, not the guy with evangelism as their spiritual gift, you and I are the ones to show Jesus and preach the good news to them!

 

Spiritually successful Christians make others look and you are constantly sharing your faith, even if they themselves are quiet and unassuming.

 

And remember, kindness, love, respect, miracles, signs and wonders, all of these are links in the chain of salvation, but none of them actually save people.

 

Ten million signs and wonders would not make this world turn to Christ, because belief is a choice. Ultimately people choose to either accept Christ, or reject Him. You’re responsible in sharing your faith, but you are not responsible for the decision they make.

 

 

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO SHINE

 

John Stott said, “We should not ask, “What is wrong with the world?” for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, “What has happened to the salt and light?”

 

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV Strong’s)

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

Every one of us is called to shine for Jesus, to be salt and light to a world that is a mess. Whether you fancy yourself as an evangelist, whether you have that gift or not, sharing your faith starts with you shining for Jesus. Very often it’s what you do rather than what you say that is the most important thing in reaching out to others.

 

Uncle Erick story… On his way to church in his Sunday suit and saw a neighbour digging out his grease trap. He went home, changed into his overalls, skipped church and got down and dirty and smelly in the hole with the man… a few weeks later that man came to Christ.

 

If you are not living a life they respect, why should they bother to listen to you?  If you’re gossiping, exploding in anger, manipulating people or holding grudges, your words carry little power. If they see you as honest, stable and kind, someone with their life together, they will listen to you, I promise you! Especially if their life is a mess.

 

But don’t think you need to be a stellar Christian to share your faith. I’ve seen drug addicts lead other drug addicts to the Lord. You don’t have to be perfect to shine, but you cannot influence others for Christ if you do not have the right to speak into their life. When they see a change in your life, you earn that right.

 

And the reality is, you need to be sharing your faith as much as they need to be hearing about it? Shining for Jesus builds builds upon your credibility as a person, but you need to couple shining with something else… sharing your faith, or speaking about Jesus.

 

Check Dr Billy Graham being interviewed by Woody Allen on out Facebook page…

 

https://www.facebook.com/ignitechristianchurch

 

 

DON’T BE THE DEAD SEA

 

If you are alive in Christ you should be sharing your faith.

 

The Dead Sea in Israel is the lowest point on earth, more than 400m below sea level. It is renowned as being deadly because of the lethally high salt content. Why is it so poisonous? The river Jordan flows into it, but nothing flows out, that’s why it is dead. And so many Christians are like that… we get plenty of teaching, tons of input but give nothing back.

 

Greg Laurie said, “Input without output is hazardous to our faith.” We become like the Dead Sea.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV Strong’s)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

 

If you are getting good teaching, if you are growing in Christ reading His Word, start using it, start handling the Word of truth correctly. Let God’s truth flow through you to others, don’t be a typical Christian and stagnate!

 

SHARING YOUR FAITH EFFECTIVELY

 

I would like to run a seminar to detail how to effectively share your faith. Please don’t be put off by this, it is a very simple thing. The gospel is simple, not complicated. It is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.

 

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV Strong’s)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

Sharing your faith should be natural and reflect our relationship with Christ. I don’t want to Bible bash people, I don’t want to offend them or manipulate them into a decision they are not actually making. Jesus made you the way you are so that you can gently and naturally share your faith in a way that sits right with your personality.

 

So what are the steps to sharing your faith effectively, even for a non evangelist?

 

 

1.      CONNECT WITH PEOPLE

 

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I’ve been involved in all kinds of evangelism around the world, and have traveled with Dr Bill Newman across the globe, but he would tell you that the mass evangelism campaigns we have are just a platform for personal evangelism.

 

Romans 12:15-16 (ESV Strong’s)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

 

Aussies hate arrogance, so don’t be superior, don’t be self absorbed and don’t preach at them. Step one is to just connect with people, where they are at.

 

Brett plays in a band and often tells people about his faith in the club where they are playing. Some of you mums share with other mums at school. Glen shares Jesus from his Harley. Some of you builders talk to tradies on the building site. I often talk to people who come for an eye test and get the gospel as well. Last week I spent half an hour sharing my faith with one of my staff.

 

Whenever you meet people, the first step is to connect with them, and love them with gentleness and respect.  Don’t Bible bash them, take the time to talk to them, connect with them, listen to them about their life and their struggles…

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong’s)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

If I meet a salesman who pitches vigorously in my face… I feel disrespected. If I meet someone I can trust, someone who listens and seems to care about me, I am more inclined to respond positively.

 

 

2.      KNOW THE WORD

 

When Peter preached the first sermon in Acts 2, he quoted Scripture. Now you don’t have to quote verse and reference, but you ought to have enough of the Word in your life so the Lord can quicken it to your heart as you need it sharing your faith.

 

Artists know their brushes, builders know their tools, musicians know their instruments, so you should know your tools. Your tool is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and God promises this…

 

Isaiah 55:11

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

 

I have memorised, learned and studied the Bible, and so as I speak to people in I find verses popping into my head, quickened to my spirit as the bible calls it.

 

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.

 

The Word of God is living and active, and it penetrates people’s hearts, and divides or separates good from evil, right from wrong, sin from righteousness. That verse says it discerns, which in Greek means judges, the thoughts and intentions of their heart, which is very handy when sharing your faith.

 

Using Scripture as you talk to others sharing your faith penetrates more than the best of your words or your fine sounding arguments.

 

You can not argue someone into Heaven, only the Holy Spirit breaks the yoke, and only the Holy Spirit can save a soul, and He uses the Word of God.

 

Ask the Gideon’s, who have countless testimonies of people coming to Christ just by reading a bible in a hotel room or prison cell.

 

Salvation is a spiritual act. You may feel that people need convincing, but behind it all there are demons and principalities that need to be overcome, and your words do not cut it. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, and if you don’t know the Word, when sharing your faith you are fighting with bare hands with your sword still in its scabbard!

 

 

3.      BE CHRIST CENTRED AND CLEAR

 

There are so many issues people talk about, and you need godly opinions, but don’t get diverted, keep the main thing the main thing. You will not win people to Christ arguing about same sex marriage, creation science or the Shroud of Turin. Facts may be part of the journey, but they alone will not save people.

 

Titus 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

 

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,

 

If you want people to come to Jesus, talk about Jesus! You might have an opinion on various issues, but getting on Facebook and offending people about non salvation issues will not bring them to Christ. You might win the argument and send them to hell for eternity, is that a good deal?

 

As you are sharing your faith you can share your testimony, you can share your experiences by all means, because a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.

 

Why not memorise a few verses about Jesus and the gospel, like John 3:16 or Romans 5:8?

 

 

4.      CALL THEM TO REPENTANCE

 

We rarely hear about repentance these days, even sadly in gospel preaching, but for people to come to Christ they must acknowledge their need of Him.

 

How can people agree to be saved when they have no concept of what they are being saved from? They might look at their life and be sorry for what they’ve done, but that’s not the same as repentance.

 

Remorse is being sorry. But repentance is being sorry enough to change.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong’s)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

 

People are generally sorry not for what they have done, but they are sorry for being caught or suffering the consequences.

 

In our modern society, we have a huge tendency to pass blame for our bad behaviour or decisions.  We abdicate responsibility, we blame others, we always have.  Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on!

 

So often today we excuse bad behaviour because we’ve convinced ourselves it is someone else’s fault. I only did this because you did that to me. My sin is because of my parents, my partner, my upbringing, my circle of friends, my church, my job and anyone else… except me!

 

Here’s the top 7 ridiculous lawsuits won, all from the US…

 

  1. I tripped over my own toddler in your furniture store and broke my ankle… $750,000
  2. I spilled hot coffee on my lap and burned myself… $2.5m
  3. I locked myself in your garage while robbing your house and could not get out because you were on vacation… $500,000
  4. Your chained up beagle bit me after I climbed your fence and fired pellets at him… $14,500
  5. I slipped on the soft drink I threw at my boyfriend in your restaurant and broke my tailbone… $113,500
  6. I burned myself on an uninsulated wire while trespassing on your property… $24m
  7. Red bull didn’t give me wings… $13m

 

Listen, regardless of upbringing, relationships, friends  and the tough life you’ve been dished, at some point if you want to change your life you need to acknowledge your guilt, and step up to take responsibility for your decisions.

 

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV Strong’s)

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

 

In other words, man up and take responsibility for what you’ve done or become!

 

And so it is with the gospel… when people have the revelation that they are sinners, destined for hell, but that Jesus paid the price for them and died in their place, then they are truly ready to receive Christ.

 

And we need to understand that too. People out there are lost. We call them sinners, unchurched, unbelievers, non-Christians, but the reality is that they are lost. If they die tonight, they face judgment and eternity in hell, so you need to find the best way to reveal that fact to them when sharing your faith.

 

5.      ASK THE QUESTION WHEN SHARING YOUR FAITH …

 

 

If you talk to someone about the Lord, if you share you faith and don’t ask a question, it’s like a preacher who preaches well but never asks for a response. At Ignite that doesn’t happen, because I always preach to a verdict, to a response. It’s like a salesman, who does the greatest pitch ever then fails to close the sale by simply asking, “Do you want to buy it?”

 

I will often ask people to pray to ask Jesus into their lives in church. Often no one responds. I’m not embarrassed. It’s God’s problem, not mine, I just need to keep faithfully asking as I feel led.

 

So don’t be afraid, just ask and let God be God. We are responsible to ask, but we are not responsible for their reply to that question. Peter said,

 

Romans 10:9-10 (ESV Strong’s)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

Peter spelled out exactly how to be saved, and challenged the crowd, and 3,000 came to Christ that day. Be bold, be courageous and just ask. The worst that can happen is that they say no or not right now. The best is that they accept Christ and live with Him for eternity!

 

BE A LINK IN A CHAIN

 

When people come to Jesus it is usually a long and convoluted journey. Long before they meet you or anyone else, the Holy Spirit has been working in their life, preparing the soil for a harvest of salvation. You might be the first Christian they have ever talked to, you might be one of many in their journey, or you may have the privilege of leading them right through for the Lord.

 

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

 

In the chain of their salvation you could be the first link in the chain, the middle link or the last link.. Just don’t be the missing link!

 

You do not have to force every person you talk to into making a decision to receive Christ on the spot.  Just be faithful, take them a little further on the journey, as far as they are prepared to go, and believe the Lord to complete the rest.

 

You cannot save them, they have to make the decision, and God’s grace is there for them…

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV Strong’s)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Arthur Stace was a quiet, unassuming ex-alcoholic who walked the streets of Sydney before dawn every day for 37 years, and never led one person to Christ personally. But every day he wrote a single word in the pavement in yellow chalk, and that word led to the conversion of thousands of people to Christ… the Word was “Eternity”.

 

WHOSE LINE  IS IT ANYWAY?

 

Remember, ultimately a person is responsible for their own decision to accept or reject Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to save souls, and our job is simply shining and sharing our faith.

 

Ultimately, salvation is a choice, and it is a choice they make, not you. Only the Holy Spirit can draw people into the Kingdom, not you, so we do not need to see a result or try and make people get saved… those are the Holy Spirit’s lines, not ours.

 

Our job is to shine, but to shine brightly in this dark world. Yet we must not fool ourselves or compromise our witness for Christ.

 

St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and where necessary use words.” What he is suggesting is that you let your life shine for Christ, but I believe He is wrong on the second part… you must also use words. Otherwise, they think you’re a nice person and a great guy, and Christ isn’t honoured, you are! So couple your shining with words that tell them the reasons why you act in such a noble way…

 

Let me finish with 2 verses we have already used…

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong’s)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong’s)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

THE SHINING AND SHARING CHALLENGE

 

If you have never asked Jesus into your heart, now is a great time to do it. The Bible says we have all sinned, the Bible says we are all guilty and are destined for hell. You don’t need to be good enough to be saved, you just need to be humble enough to accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

 

Think of one person you know who doesn’t know Christ, and then pray for an opportunity to shine and to share. It’s not enough just to do good and shine, and it’s not enough just to tell them you’re a Christian, you need to do both!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=2494

Spiritual Success 6- Shining and Sharing Your Faith

Shining and sharing your faith is an important part of becoming a spiritual success. And we have seen that the steps involve reading the Bible daily, praying constantly, fellowshipping at the right church, giving of yourself and your money, and now the final step in becoming a true spiritual success is shining and sharing your faith.

WE ARE CHRIST’S BILLBOARDS

 

As you drive along the motorway you see billboards, and they are designed to capture your attention. They are easily seen, and often have a slogan in them that intrigues, shocks or otherwise makes you look.

Most people in our nation will never enter a church building apart from maybe a wedding or funeral. They will never read the Bible. You and I are the only Bible they will ever see, the only contact with a church they will ever experience.

 

Romans 10:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

You are the billboard, you are the one who is sent and you sharing your faith, church, not the pastor, not the guy with evangelism as their spiritual gift, you and I are the ones to show Jesus and preach the good news to them!

 

Spiritually successful Christians make others look and you are constantly sharing your faith, even if they themselves are quiet and unassuming.

 

And remember, kindness, love, respect, miracles, signs and wonders, all of these are links in the chain of salvation, but none of them actually save people.

 

Ten million signs and wonders would not make this world turn to Christ, because belief is a choice. Ultimately people choose to either accept Christ, or reject Him. You’re responsible in sharing your faith, but you are not responsible for the decision they make.

 

 

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO SHINE

 

John Stott said, “We should not ask, “What is wrong with the world?” for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, “What has happened to the salt and light?”

 

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV Strong’s)

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

Every one of us is called to shine for Jesus, to be salt and light to a world that is a mess. Whether you fancy yourself as an evangelist, whether you have that gift or not, sharing your faith starts with you shining for Jesus. Very often it’s what you do rather than what you say that is the most important thing in reaching out to others.

 

Uncle Erick story… On his way to church in his Sunday suit and saw a neighbour digging out his grease trap. He went home, changed into his overalls, skipped church and got down and dirty and smelly in the hole with the man… a few weeks later that man came to Christ.

 

If you are not living a life they respect, why should they bother to listen to you?  If you’re gossiping, exploding in anger, manipulating people or holding grudges, your words carry little power. If they see you as honest, stable and kind, someone with their life together, they will listen to you, I promise you! Especially if their life is a mess.

 

But don’t think you need to be a stellar Christian to share your faith. I’ve seen drug addicts lead other drug addicts to the Lord. You don’t have to be perfect to shine, but you cannot influence others for Christ if you do not have the right to speak into their life. When they see a change in your life, you earn that right.

 

And the reality is, you need to be sharing your faith as much as they need to be hearing about it? Shining for Jesus builds builds upon your credibility as a person, but you need to couple shining with something else… sharing your faith, or speaking about Jesus.

 

Check Dr Billy Graham being interviewed by Woody Allen on out Facebook page…

 

https://www.facebook.com/ignitechristianchurch

 

 

DON’T BE THE DEAD SEA

 

If you are alive in Christ you should be sharing your faith.

 

The Dead Sea in Israel is the lowest point on earth, more than 400m below sea level. It is renowned as being deadly because of the lethally high salt content. Why is it so poisonous? The river Jordan flows into it, but nothing flows out, that’s why it is dead. And so many Christians are like that… we get plenty of teaching, tons of input but give nothing back.

 

Greg Laurie said, “Input without output is hazardous to our faith.” We become like the Dead Sea.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV Strong’s)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

 

If you are getting good teaching, if you are growing in Christ reading His Word, start using it, start handling the Word of truth correctly. Let God’s truth flow through you to others, don’t be a typical Christian and stagnate!

 

SHARING YOUR FAITH EFFECTIVELY

 

I would like to run a seminar to detail how to effectively share your faith. Please don’t be put off by this, it is a very simple thing. The gospel is simple, not complicated. It is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.

 

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV Strong’s)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

Sharing your faith should be natural and reflect our relationship with Christ. I don’t want to Bible bash people, I don’t want to offend them or manipulate them into a decision they are not actually making. Jesus made you the way you are so that you can gently and naturally share your faith in a way that sits right with your personality.

 

So what are the steps to sharing your faith effectively, even for a non evangelist?

 

 

1.      CONNECT WITH PEOPLE

 

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I’ve been involved in all kinds of evangelism around the world, and have traveled with Dr Bill Newman across the globe, but he would tell you that the mass evangelism campaigns we have are just a platform for personal evangelism.

 

Romans 12:15-16 (ESV Strong’s)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

 

Aussies hate arrogance, so don’t be superior, don’t be self absorbed and don’t preach at them. Step one is to just connect with people, where they are at.

 

Brett plays in a band and often tells people about his faith in the club where they are playing. Some of you mums share with other mums at school. Glen shares Jesus from his Harley. Some of you builders talk to tradies on the building site. I often talk to people who come for an eye test and get the gospel as well. Last week I spent half an hour sharing my faith with one of my staff.

 

Whenever you meet people, the first step is to connect with them, and love them with gentleness and respect.  Don’t Bible bash them, take the time to talk to them, connect with them, listen to them about their life and their struggles…

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong’s)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

If I meet a salesman who pitches vigorously in my face… I feel disrespected. If I meet someone I can trust, someone who listens and seems to care about me, I am more inclined to respond positively.

 

 

2.      KNOW THE WORD

 

When Peter preached the first sermon in Acts 2, he quoted Scripture. Now you don’t have to quote verse and reference, but you ought to have enough of the Word in your life so the Lord can quicken it to your heart as you need it sharing your faith.

 

Artists know their brushes, builders know their tools, musicians know their instruments, so you should know your tools. Your tool is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and God promises this…

 

Isaiah 55:11

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

 

I have memorised, learned and studied the Bible, and so as I speak to people in I find verses popping into my head, quickened to my spirit as the bible calls it.

 

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.

 

The Word of God is living and active, and it penetrates people’s hearts, and divides or separates good from evil, right from wrong, sin from righteousness. That verse says it discerns, which in Greek means judges, the thoughts and intentions of their heart, which is very handy when sharing your faith.

 

Using Scripture as you talk to others sharing your faith penetrates more than the best of your words or your fine sounding arguments.

 

You can not argue someone into Heaven, only the Holy Spirit breaks the yoke, and only the Holy Spirit can save a soul, and He uses the Word of God.

 

Ask the Gideon’s, who have countless testimonies of people coming to Christ just by reading a bible in a hotel room or prison cell.

 

Salvation is a spiritual act. You may feel that people need convincing, but behind it all there are demons and principalities that need to be overcome, and your words do not cut it. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, and if you don’t know the Word, when sharing your faith you are fighting with bare hands with your sword still in its scabbard!

 

 

3.      BE CHRIST CENTRED AND CLEAR

 

There are so many issues people talk about, and you need godly opinions, but don’t get diverted, keep the main thing the main thing. You will not win people to Christ arguing about same sex marriage, creation science or the Shroud of Turin. Facts may be part of the journey, but they alone will not save people.

 

Titus 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

 

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,

 

If you want people to come to Jesus, talk about Jesus! You might have an opinion on various issues, but getting on Facebook and offending people about non salvation issues will not bring them to Christ. You might win the argument and send them to hell for eternity, is that a good deal?

 

As you are sharing your faith you can share your testimony, you can share your experiences by all means, because a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.

 

Why not memorise a few verses about Jesus and the gospel, like John 3:16 or Romans 5:8?

 

 

4.      CALL THEM TO REPENTANCE

 

We rarely hear about repentance these days, even sadly in gospel preaching, but for people to come to Christ they must acknowledge their need of Him.

 

How can people agree to be saved when they have no concept of what they are being saved from? They might look at their life and be sorry for what they’ve done, but that’s not the same as repentance.

 

Remorse is being sorry. But repentance is being sorry enough to change.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong’s)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

 

People are generally sorry not for what they have done, but they are sorry for being caught or suffering the consequences.

 

In our modern society, we have a huge tendency to pass blame for our bad behaviour or decisions.  We abdicate responsibility, we blame others, we always have.  Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on!

 

So often today we excuse bad behaviour because we’ve convinced ourselves it is someone else’s fault. I only did this because you did that to me. My sin is because of my parents, my partner, my upbringing, my circle of friends, my church, my job and anyone else… except me!

 

Here’s the top 7 ridiculous lawsuits won, all from the US…

 

  1. I tripped over my own toddler in your furniture store and broke my ankle… $750,000
  2. I spilled hot coffee on my lap and burned myself… $2.5m
  3. I locked myself in your garage while robbing your house and could not get out because you were on vacation… $500,000
  4. Your chained up beagle bit me after I climbed your fence and fired pellets at him… $14,500
  5. I slipped on the soft drink I threw at my boyfriend in your restaurant and broke my tailbone… $113,500
  6. I burned myself on an uninsulated wire while trespassing on your property… $24m
  7. Red bull didn’t give me wings… $13m

 

Listen, regardless of upbringing, relationships, friends  and the tough life you’ve been dished, at some point if you want to change your life you need to acknowledge your guilt, and step up to take responsibility for your decisions.

 

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV Strong’s)

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

 

In other words, man up and take responsibility for what you’ve done or become!

 

And so it is with the gospel… when people have the revelation that they are sinners, destined for hell, but that Jesus paid the price for them and died in their place, then they are truly ready to receive Christ.

 

And we need to understand that too. People out there are lost. We call them sinners, unchurched, unbelievers, non-Christians, but the reality is that they are lost. If they die tonight, they face judgment and eternity in hell, so you need to find the best way to reveal that fact to them when sharing your faith.

 

5.      ASK THE QUESTION WHEN SHARING YOUR FAITH …

 

 

If you talk to someone about the Lord, if you share you faith and don’t ask a question, it’s like a preacher who preaches well but never asks for a response. At Ignite that doesn’t happen, because I always preach to a verdict, to a response. It’s like a salesman, who does the greatest pitch ever then fails to close the sale by simply asking, “Do you want to buy it?”

 

I will often ask people to pray to ask Jesus into their lives in church. Often no one responds. I’m not embarrassed. It’s God’s problem, not mine, I just need to keep faithfully asking as I feel led.

 

So don’t be afraid, just ask and let God be God. We are responsible to ask, but we are not responsible for their reply to that question. Peter said,

 

Romans 10:9-10 (ESV Strong’s)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

Peter spelled out exactly how to be saved, and challenged the crowd, and 3,000 came to Christ that day. Be bold, be courageous and just ask. The worst that can happen is that they say no or not right now. The best is that they accept Christ and live with Him for eternity!

 

BE A LINK IN A CHAIN

 

When people come to Jesus it is usually a long and convoluted journey. Long before they meet you or anyone else, the Holy Spirit has been working in their life, preparing the soil for a harvest of salvation. You might be the first Christian they have ever talked to, you might be one of many in their journey, or you may have the privilege of leading them right through for the Lord.

 

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

 

In the chain of their salvation you could be the first link in the chain, the middle link or the last link.. Just don’t be the missing link!

 

You do not have to force every person you talk to into making a decision to receive Christ on the spot.  Just be faithful, take them a little further on the journey, as far as they are prepared to go, and believe the Lord to complete the rest.

 

You cannot save them, they have to make the decision, and God’s grace is there for them…

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV Strong’s)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Arthur Stace was a quiet, unassuming ex-alcoholic who walked the streets of Sydney before dawn every day for 37 years, and never led one person to Christ personally. But every day he wrote a single word in the pavement in yellow chalk, and that word led to the conversion of thousands of people to Christ… the Word was “Eternity”.

 

WHOSE LINE  IS IT ANYWAY?

 

Remember, ultimately a person is responsible for their own decision to accept or reject Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to save souls, and our job is simply shining and sharing our faith.

 

Ultimately, salvation is a choice, and it is a choice they make, not you. Only the Holy Spirit can draw people into the Kingdom, not you, so we do not need to see a result or try and make people get saved… those are the Holy Spirit’s lines, not ours.

 

Our job is to shine, but to shine brightly in this dark world. Yet we must not fool ourselves or compromise our witness for Christ.

 

St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and where necessary use words.” What he is suggesting is that you let your life shine for Christ, but I believe He is wrong on the second part… you must also use words. Otherwise, they think you’re a nice person and a great guy, and Christ isn’t honoured, you are! So couple your shining with words that tell them the reasons why you act in such a noble way…

 

Let me finish with 2 verses we have already used…

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong’s)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong’s)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

THE SHINING AND SHARING CHALLENGE

 

If you have never asked Jesus into your heart, now is a great time to do it. The Bible says we have all sinned, the Bible says we are all guilty and are destined for hell. You don’t need to be good enough to be saved, you just need to be humble enough to accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

 

Think of one person you know who doesn’t know Christ, and then pray for an opportunity to shine and to share. It’s not enough just to do good and shine, and it’s not enough just to tell them you’re a Christian, you need to do both!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=2494

308- What do the Words Say?

What do the words say in the songs we are choosing for worship leading?

This is an important question because many times we find ourselves as worship leaders choosing songs that we like, or songs that are current. And let’s face it, some of the songs have some pretty uninspiring and even questionable lyrics, don’t they?

So What do the Words Say?

What do the words say in the songs we are choosing, and how can we choose songs that are more uplifting, and specifically pointing to Jesus Christ as opposed to songs which are focussed on us?

I believe that we need to take note of the words of the songs when we choose them and that as we run one song into another when it comes to music, so our songs also should be compatible when it comes to the lyrics.

In this podcast we discover that uninspiring words are not a new thing, and we even look at a classic hymn that was written specifically to combat the plethora of ordinary and even heretical lyrics that were being sung in the church at that time.  Yes, folks, believe it or not we have been here before!

So this is not a shot at new songs and a claim that all old songs are lyrically sound!  This is an honest attempt to examine the types of words we are singing in church, and to honestly ask the question, “What do the words say?”  In any age, there are songs with great words and those with less than stellar words.  That is the point of this podcast… let us examine the words we are asking our congregations to sing, whether it be in brand new songs or in older songs.

If we are leading people into the presence of the Lord, the words are important, and we owe it to our churches to select songs with words that point to Christ, and exalt Him!  Listen, learn and enjoy today’s worship leader podcast

 

https://praiseandworshipleader.com/?p=5527

YWAM Ministering

YWAM Music visiting… We had the joy of YWAM ministering to us at Coast Church last Sunday, so here is a recording of Gunnar’s message and Alex’s song…

YWAM’s Music & Worship Discipleship Training School is an experience of a lifetime. Encounter God, make new friends, take part in missions, and find purpose as you minister with your music.

The Music & Worship DTS is a 5 month long program created to strengthen your relationship with God while finding purpose in the field of music & worship ministry. This school is specifically for singers & musicians and those passionate about supporting musicians in ministry (photographers, sound engineers, graphic designers etc). If you are a singer or worship leader but don’t play an instrument, you are still more than welcome to be a part of the school!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=1907

YWAM Ministering

YWAM Music visiting… We had the joy of YWAM ministering to us at Coast Church last Sunday, so here is a recording of Gunnar’s message and Alex’s song…

YWAM’s Music & Worship Discipleship Training School is an experience of a lifetime. Encounter God, make new friends, take part in missions, and find purpose as you minister with your music.

The Music & Worship DTS is a 5 month long program created to strengthen your relationship with God while finding purpose in the field of music & worship ministry. This school is specifically for singers & musicians and those passionate about supporting musicians in ministry (photographers, sound engineers, graphic designers etc). If you are a singer or worship leader but don’t play an instrument, you are still more than welcome to be a part of the school!

https://ignitechurch.org.au/?p=1907

307- Put Jesus Back into Easter

Put Jesus Back into Easter this Easter!

This should be the heart cry of every worship leader, indeed every Christian.

We live in a world that preaches political correctness to us every day, trying to remove Jesus and Christianity from Christmas, Easter and every holiday.  We are labeled narrow-minded, conservative and bigotted, yet the Church is the one being attacked by so-called liberated and open-minded humanists!

This Easter, worship leaders, it is time for us to say enough is enough!

Let’s Put Jesus back into Easter Today!

There are many reasons we should put Jesus back into Easter.

The first is that people will come to church at Christmas and Easter time when they will refuse to darken the door of a church at other times of the year.

Let’s put Jesus back into Easter for those who need to hear the good news message of the Gospel.  They are in the church for the day, so we should be able to lead people to the Lord in our worship.

The second reason is that our people need to realise that Easter, with all the hype, the chocolate and the bunnies, hot crossed buns etc., is still about Christ. Easter is about the incredible sacrifice that God made, sending His Son to die for our sins on a cruel cross.  We as believers need to remember and honour Jesus Christ at Easter, not get sucked into the culture that our modern society thrusts upon us.

As worship leaders, we need to choose songs carefully and make sure that we put Jesus back into Easter this season.  So listen to today’s podcast and make sure that we are pointing people to Christ in our music, not ourselves, not Church, not a denomination and definitely not bunnies, chocolates and eggs.

Worship Leaders, we can be the difference in bringing people to Christ this Easter, so let’s commit to putting Christ into Easter once again!

 

 

 

https://praiseandworshipleader.com/?p=5519