New Year 2017 Getting The Father’s Heart

Lost sinners and Jesus commission to go and seek and save the lost

Daily Spirit & Word: 821

Jesus Of Nazareth.

Getting The Father’s Heart For the New Year.

Psalm 33:11 (NIV)  But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Over the Christmas season the TV is quite good, because they show all the old family favourite films. It struck me that the films that seem to stand the test of time are not the ones with fancy graphics or awesome animation, nor is it fast moving scenes, car pile-ups or big explosions, etc, but it is the ones that have really great stories and characters that are convincing.

One such film, I watched again for the umpteenth time was; Jesus of Nazareth. In an early scene Peter was complaining about having to pay taxes to the Romans even after being out fishing all night and having caught nothing, when he got into port he wasn’t convinced that Jesus was the Messiah who could set them free from Roman domination. It showed a reluctant Peter, when asked by Jesus to go out fishing after they’d been fishing all night long, so the other Disciples had to coax him into accepting Jesus into his boat. I’d never noticed before that when Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, he did so in a house full of obvious sinners, Matthew the Tax Collector and Publicans and in the film the story was targeted at a reluctant Peter who was standing outside the door of the house listening. The film portrayed Peter as a belligerent and reluctant Disciple of Jesus, who was being judgemental about Matthew who collected taxes for the Romans.

I’m not convinced that part of the film is authentic, however it did get me thinking about Jesus telling of that story. Who was he targeting? Then I thought to myself, that story applies to every single one of us, so it would also have applied to both Jesus’ Disciples and His opponents, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The Prodigal Son: The Lost Son / The Loving Father / The Resentful Older Brother.

Luke 15:17-32 (NIV)
17  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
18  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
20  So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
24  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.
26  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.
27  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28  “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
29  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
30  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31  ” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “

The Prodigal Son: Who demanded his inheritance before his father had even passed away. Who wasted his inheritance in wild, sensual and sinful living. Who was far away from home and in a desperate state. Who decided to repent and return home again, begging for mercy and forgiveness. Who among us has not been like that Prodigal Son? We’ve all gone away from God on purpose at some point in our lives, choosing to go with our desires, or our feelings instead of God’s way.

The Father’s Response: To run out and greet his wayward son, embrace him, cloth him, bring him home and throw a big party. Every time I hear that story of the Father’s loving heart it brings home to me just how much God really does LOVE everyone, and is just waiting for us all to come back home again to Him.

The Elder Brother: Who was judgemental, outside, refusing to come in, hurt and offended at the Father’s grace, kindness and mercy towards his wayward brother. Refusing to be consoled. (That’s who Peter was in the film), but who among us has not acted like that elder brother? We’ve probably all thought at one point or another, “He doesn’t deserve God’s grace and mercy after what he’s been up to”. However, when we bring it home, back to ourselves, we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, love and kindness either, it’s all because of His GRACE that we are saved. The fact is God really does LOVE everybody and wants everyone to come to REPENTANCE.

Which one of these characters do you see yourself as being in that story? The wayward son, the merciful, kind and loving father or the elder brother standing outside refusing to join in the celebrations?

  • I’m sure none of us want to be thought of as the Elder Brother do we? Judgemental, Reluctant to celebrated when a sinner repents.
  • I’m sure we can all see a bit of the wayward son in ourselves. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s Holy Standards.
  • I’m sure we’d all like to be just like the Father: Full of grace, mercy, kindness, goodness and love.

But which one are we? Which one are you today?

God is the same, the Bible tells us, yesterday, today and forever.

  • If you’ve wandered away: He’ll welcome you back. Repent and return home to your Heavenly Father.
  • If you’re being judgemental: He’ll come out to you and encourage you to be like the Father. It’s just as much a sin to be like the elder brother as it is to be the wayward son.
  • If you are like the Father today; full of Kindness, goodness, mercy, gentleness, self-control, joy, love, faithfulness, then you’ve got the fruit of the Holy Spirit in abundance. Praise the LORD! Go out and look for both, the wayward sons and daughters of God; He’s longing for you to bring them to their senses and bring them home.

However, if in reading through this little piece, you’ve been pricked in your conscience in some way, then don’t despair of yourself, just get right with your Heavenly Father, do it right now, don’t delay, confess your sins to God and He will forgive you. He will wash you clean and give you a brand new start for the New Year 2017.

I’m praying for all my friends, to be closer to the Lord Jesus in 2017 than they’ve ever been before. Amen!

Here’s hoping you have awesome success in 2017: May you be overflowing with Holy Spirit power to be:

  • More Loving.
  • More Joy Filled.
  • More Peaceful.
  • More Kind.
  • More Holy and Good.
  • More Faithful.
  • More Gentle.
  • More Self-Controlled.

Who among us doesn’t need more of this kind of fruit in our lives in 2017?

I do!
I want it!
I’m praying to Jesus for it.
Praise the LORD!
Don.

NOTES: The story that Jesus told about the Prodigal Son was part of a bigger story in Luke 15:

  • First, a lost sheep (One of a hundred)
  • Second, a lost coin (one of ten) and
  • Lastly, a lost son (one of two)…

Which is most precious to us?

Which is most precious to God?

The people the story is TARGETED at in the Bible are: The Pharisees and the religious teachers of Israel in Jesus time. They would all celebrate a lost sheep being returned to its owner. They would all value a lost coin, even though it was one of ten, but they kept themselves away from lost SINNERS and shunned those, who in their eyes, were completely lost already.

We can all imagine how hard it would be to loose a sheep, even though it’s one in a hundred.

We can all imagine how precious those coins must have been, even though there was another nine to console.

However, imagine having just two sons and loosing one of them, how devastating for any father is that? But when he returns, OH THE JOY… That’s the Father’s Heart.

The Pharisees, much like people in our own time, are MATERIALISTIC: They valued sheep and coins, but thought very little about the value of human life. Especially people who didn’t fit into their moral code of conduct.

The two sons are both Materialistic: The lost son is evidently wayward, but he repents and is restored and celebrated.

However, the materialism in the older son and his resentful attitude only become evident when the LOST son is welcomed back with open arms. He wants a PARTY with his friends. He was thinking about what his brother had wasted (part of his own inheritance)… He refused to coming in and join the celebration.

The Bible makes it clear, the Pharisees and we should have the SAME kind of heart as the Father in the story that Jesus told.

  • Many preachers focus on the Lost Son: to give hope to the parents in the congregation who may have a wayward child, who’s far away from the family and God.
  • Others; focus upon the Loving heart of the Father and His obvious welcome of a truly repentant sinner. That’s what God is like.
  • Others direct our attention to the Resentful Older Brother: How’s our attitude towards those who’ve come back to Jesus Christ after wasting their lives in wild living?

But the thing that jumps out at me afresh today is GETTING the FATHER’S HEART: Jesus wants is all to know what’s going on in HEAVEN: Their is rejoicing and celebration going on in God’s House when just one of us, truly comes to our senses and surrenders our lives to God through His Son Jesus.

Psalm 33:11 (NIV)  But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Let’s get the FATHER’S HEART today: Pray for yourself in 2017, that you’ll be filled with the same kind of compassion that Jesus has for those who are far away from God, lost.

Be obedient to the Father’s Heart: Go out and seek and save the LOST: That’s Why Jesus came: To SAVE SINNERS. He’s commissioned every single Christian to be involved in this, the greatest calling, to join Him in SAVING SINNERS. The Holy Spirit is drawing them to Jesus, all we have to do is PRAY and SHARE the Good News. Because FAITH comes by hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Now, we’d all love our churches to be filled afresh with LOST SINNERS wouldn’t we?

Let’s get busy in 2017 saving as many as we can. Hopefully we’ll see a HARVEST of Souls this coming year. Amen!

Be blessed in Jesus,

Don.

 

Two Responses to Jesus

Are you reluctant to share the Good News of the Gospel?

Daily Spirit &Word: 742:

Two Responses to Jesus.

Some say, “I won’t”, but do.

Some say, “I will” but don’t…

Good morning my friends, what an awesome day and week it’s been. Curry night was great Indigo was a treat to the taste-buds. Ying Kai came to my home and so did Pastors and key leaders from other churches in West Norwood. He shared the simplicity of the Gospel and Discipleship, encouraging us to not-overcomplicate the process, but to allow so much more room for the Holy Spirit, it’s not about systems, programs or fancy marketing, but relying completely upon the empowering, guiding and equipping of the Holy Spirit in the knowledge that Jesus will always be with us. Praise the LORD for Ying Kai, his wife Grace (who exudes God’s grace and gentleness).

I was reminded during that meeting yesterday about Jesus Parables and the one about the Two Sons. It’s in a section of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus was challenged by religious people who were not following Him or His teachings.

The Parable of the Two Sons

Matthew 21:23-32 (ESV)

23  And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
24  Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25  The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
26  But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27  So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
28  “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
29  And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.
30  And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.
31  Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
32  For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Jesus was talking with the Pharisees, they are the religious elite of the time, people who should have known how to serve the Lord and be a light to everybody for His glory, but instead of working with and accepting Jesus, they had turned against him. This Parable was directed at them, but in some ways it’s directed at every single Christian. Because like those sons, we’ve all said, “Yes” to Jesus, but only a very few who’ve received Christ as Lord are actually being obedient to the things that Jesus commands. His primary command that we ignore or disobey is what we’ve been praying about all week, “Going into the world to share, spread and broadcast His powerful, life-transforming, Gospel message with everyone”…

The first said “I won’t” but later had a change of mind.

There are many people, who upon first hearing the demands in the Gospel message, initially reject it, refuse to acknowledge their sin or their need for God in their life, but later on change their minds. But there’s a much deeper teaching in this parable for those who’ve got ears to hear. What is the SPIRIT saying to you today?

One of the primary reasons Christians STOP or DON’T obey Jesus instruction / command is because of FEAR of rejection or non-acceptance of the message they are taking into the world, their friends and relatives.

So they end up being like the son who said, “I will”, but don’t continue to do it. My friends, I want to encourage you to CHANGE YOUR MIND again, go back to Jesus in prayer and say to Him: “Lord I will go for You”. “I will take Your message of Good News, I will believe what You’ve promised; Authority, Power, Persuasion and Presence when I go. I KNOW that You will be working on those to whom you send me, that by Your Holy Spirit, you’ll be drawing people to Yourself. Give me the courage to continue to be obedient to Your Commands and teachings, and to never give up or give in to fear again.” Amen!

What do you think made the reluctant son change his mind?

It could be his conscience was bothering him or perhaps it was the fact it was his own dear father asking him to do the work?

My friends, You’ve been following Jesus for so long, it’s time to be living in obedience.

A Lady Who’s MIND has been CHANGED.

One lady, who was at our meeting with Ying Kai yesterday, said to me last night, “I know so much, but I’ve been doing so little with what I know”... She’s been on course after course, training after training, but hasn’t put very much of what she’s learned into practice. Don’t get me wrong, she’s the sweetest Christian lady you could ever wish to meet, she’s got a real heart for people and loves and gives so much of her time, talents and treasures to Jesus already. But she felt convicted, because there was an area that she’s been neglecting, even though she knew it should be the highest priority in all her service of the Lord. “Sharing the faith” transitioning from service to witness. She felt she just hasn’t learned or been obedient to actually SHARE THE GOSPEL. She said, “I’m going to come out and learn HOW to do it with you”… I’m praying she will come.

It’s NOT what we know, it’s WHO we know that counts. 

The BIGGEST LESSON:

The biggest and strongest message I’ve been learning afresh this week: It’s not what you know that matters, it’s WHO you know. You know Jesus, that’s enough, take what you know about Jesus and how He’s had mercy upon you, how He’s saved you from your sins, cleansed you and forgiven you for so much. Take WHO you know to the people who don’t know Him yet. That’s what Jesus is asking for: Obedience to His Commands.

I’m praising the LORD now, because, even if only ONE person gets this message, this whole week has been a tremendous success for Christ’s Kingdom. However, I know there are MANY MORE brothers and sisters out there, who KNOW they too should be sharing Jesus offer of NEW LIFE with many of their family, friends, neighbours and work-mates and even going farther to share the Gospel with strangers. Some of you have tried and then given up because you didn’t get the response you thought you’d get. Don’t give up, because God didn’t give up on you. Keep going, and keep going back to Jesus again.

Which son will you be?

The one who said, “I will” but didn’t?

Or the one who said, “I won’t, or can’t or it’s not me” but did?

Be like the sweet lady I was talking with last night or the first son in the parable and also Moses, who all said: “I won’t, I can’t, It’s not me”, but eventually gave in and did what the LORD asked them to do.

Be assured that I’m praying for you all, that the LORD will be with you, calling you, equipping you and enabling you to serve Him with your life. Don’t wait for the equipping though, because it comes as we step out in obedience to His Commands.

Thy will be done.

Thy Kingdom Come! Amen.

Praise be to the LORD!

Don.

P.S. Hope you all have an awesome Pentecost Weekend.

We’ve got an Open Air Baptism Service on Sunday: Outside St Luke’s Church.

At 10.30am. No matter what the weather, we’re going to BAPTISE some people tomorrow.

One of the Candidates is a lady called Emma who only gave her life to the LORD on Tuesday. Praise the Lord!

COME!

 

 

No Prayer – No Power.

Plug into the power of prayer

Daily Spirit & Word, 480: No Prayer – No Power.

 Plug into the POWER of PRAYER.

Good morning my friends, we’ve just had a wonderful few days over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend, with family, friends and awesome fellowship. Easter Sunday was an exciting celebration of the Power of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. There are times in the life of every believer when we feel low, when we don’t feel close to the Lord and when things seem to get hard both spiritually and emotionally. Quite often that will happen after a wonderful time of close connection with Jesus and an encounter with the Holy Spirit. When that happens to me I get back to spending longer times in prayer with the Lord, and more often than not I begin to wonder, “Lord, what are you saying to me through this?” The Lord is so gentle and kind, because He’ll lead me back into His ways and He’ll gently show me or remind me what I should have been doing or ought not to have done.

You all know one of my mottoes in life is: No Read – No Feed… If I don’t read God’s Word then I’m not going to be fed Spiritually.

 It’s the same with Prayer: No Prayer – No Power. When we are prayerless, then we’re going to powerless as followers of Jesus. Think of prayer as a way to charge you up spiritually as one would your mobile phone. We’re always charging our phones to ensure they have enough power to see us through the day, but do we spend quality time charging in prayer with the Lord Jesus?

No Prayer – No Power

Little Prayer = Little Power.

Quality Prayer = Explosive POWER.

 My Spiritually Drained Life:

 First; No Read – No Feed: Sometimes it’s a lack of real engagement with the Word of God; I’ll be reading it, but then at the end of a passage or even a whole chapter, I’m left wondering what I’ve just read. Then I realise, I’ve been reading without thinking, reading without paying attention to what I’m reading, so the Lord guides me to go back and read it again. I’ve done that so many times, when I’ve woken up tired from a late night or been up during the night and just begin reading God’s Word automatically or out of routine. Then BAM! It hits me, I’ve been reading God’s Word as if it’s a Newspaper or an Advert: skim reading and not dwelling upon it or reading it prayerfully. That’s quickly followed by a confession and repentance and return to devotional reading, seeking the Lord for His light from His Word. You know my friends, I can confess to you right now, that these are some of the most powerful and profitable times in God’s Word. You see God didn’t call us to be like robots or to do things out of duty or routine, but always seeking to engage and talk with one another. That’s what should be happening when I’m reading His Word, because it’s His living Word and He wants to speak to me through His revelations and give me fresh revelations every single day.

Secondly: No Prayer – No Power. Then I’ll sometimes get convicted about my prayer life or more specifically my lack of engagement or communication with my Lord. You see Jesus wants us to know that when we pray, he’s right there with us, He’s not some distant deity that we have to emplore to be touched by our works our devotions or our dedications. No my friends, Jesus is right there and wants us to know it, the moment we turn to Him in prayer, His desire is to communicate and be with us. How awesome is that? Jesus is not impressed by how we posture ourselves or about how holy a place we’ve found to pray, what He’s impressed with is a heart that desires to know Him and be with Him and spend time in His company, a heart that desires to do His will, to live in accordance with His commands, for Jesus knows that when He gets a heart of a human being in the morning like that, that we are truly loving Him for who He is and not just what He can do for us.

When we come to Jesus in prayer and come to His Word with our focus and attention and heart right, then we’re going to get the power encounters that all the ancient saints of old and down through history have experienced with the Lord. Like Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, we’ll get revelation and power. They all plugged in and got the power. When we Read God’s Word and Spend Quality Time in Prayer, then we’re going to be fed and powered up for following Jesus today.

God’s Word, for reading and meditation today:
Luke 18:1-8
1  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
2  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
3  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4  “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,
5  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”
6  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.
7  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
8  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

It’s amazing what people down through the ages have called this parable; “The Parable of the Persistent Widow” “The Widow that never gives us”. But it could also be called “The Parable of God’s Desire for Justice”. It just depends upon our focus; are we thinking about earthly things or heavenly things. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. If our heart’s desire is to be God’s person, then we’ll be concerned with Heavenly things. God’s desire is that people always get justice and Christians should always be on the side of fairness, equality, justice, mercy. Giving aid and assistance to the poor and those who can’t care for themselves. Once we know the Lord and His deeper desires then we’ll also act in accordance with God’s character as well. However, just as the widow was persistent until she got the unjust judge to listen, we’ll also continue in prayer and never give up until we see that justice is being done. We’ll pray and act and then we’ll see the POWER of Heaven released.

We’re not to just to pray, God’s much more concerned about How we live in this world and about how we’re being obedient to what He’s already revealed. When we come to God in the morning and we’re ready to do His will in the world that day, don’t you believe that He’s ready to listen to your petitions? Oh yes my friends, David and Abraham were called the friends of God, because their hearts were filled with a desire to trust Him alone. Abraham believed the Lord and it was credited to him as righteousness. David was a man after the Lord’s own heart. They both desired to do His will.

No Read – No Feed.

No Prayer – No Power.

Go on my friends, get close to Jesus right now: Pray and Feed upon His Word. You’ll get Power to sustain you throughout your day. You’ll be fed and nurtured by God’s Word to equip you for the fight of the faith. It’s your only weapon against the enemy.

No Prayer – No Power.

Little Prayer = Little Power.

Quality Prayer = Explosive POWER.

Prayer: Oh Lord, let me come to You and to Your Word ready to listen, to pay attention to what you’ve got to say to me every single day. Let me have a heart that’s ready and willing to obey what You are telling me. Show me Lord the areas of my life, that I’m slipping up in: is my prayer life right Lord? is my Bible reading right Lord? is my heart attitude towards others right Lord? I’m desiring to live my life Your way Lord. I want your power in me, I want to know your Word. Help me to be like David and Abraham, I want to be called a friend of God and friend of Jesus. I know that you are my friend Lord, but help me to live every moment knowing my best friend is with me wherever I go. Amen.

You know my friends, when you pray like that God’s going to show you things in His Word and He’ll answer your prayers quickly. So don’t ever think of quitting or giving up, but be like that widow, be persistent in prayer and the Lord who loves Justice, Mercy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness and Gentleness will answer your prayers quickly. Amen!

Don.

No Read – No Feed.

No Prayer – No Power.