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Sunday Night Live Sermons

GOD'S GIFT FOR YOU

Ephesians 1:13-14
27th July 2003

A listener to my sermon last Sunday, a woman unknown to me, and who was not in Wesley Theatre, sent me this note: "I would like to thank you for last week's sermon. It touched my soul. My belief has been strong all my short life of 35 years. But I am drowning for the past three years. I wish I could leave my life behind, but I do not want to sin or hurt people. I really struggle. Even now my marriage feels too much pressure. People are using me. Why do I have to help people? When will I have my own life? Am I being selfish or self-centred not having the desire or motivation all the time to want to help or serve people as God wants me to, or to serve my husband as he would like? I may not have a fulfilled life on earth now but when I go to God it may be better. I would like it to be better here though...."

I do not have any personal details, but if you are listening now please contact me. I also will show you now from God's Word, that in spite of all your difficulties it can be better here. You do not need to go to God now to find inner peace. Power to enable you to cope and find fulfilment in this life is available now. A waitress put a cup of coffee beside me and I noticed how weary she looked. At the end table were her five children. They were aged from twelve years down to one. The older girls were looking after the baby. They cared for each other. Mother and children were poorly dressed. I asked her "Where does your husband work?" The reply came from the oldest child, "I'd need x ray vision to see where he was!" I gathered it was a long time since they had heard from him. My heart went out to a woman who was struggling with keeping her family together and trying to get enough money to feed, clothe and house them.

In the past four years we have seen an increase from 2,118 children being sent to our Dalmar Child Care to 5,858 children seeking admission to our programs. Most came to us from the Department of Community Services because the family had broken, the children were at risk, and the single parent was not coping.

Every day I receive letters from farmers unable to cope with the drought. I have sent cheques of $1000 each to more than one hundred such farmers. One letter reads: "Due to the ongoing drought conditions I apply for any assistance that may be available. I wouldn't normally ask but I am hand feeding my cows hay. To get the cows to eat this dry feed, you have to give them a supplement (mixture of molasses, urea and water) to stimulate their appetite. This supplement costs $450 (highly inflated price in these drought times) I had obtained a recipe off another lady that saved me $350 but as soon as the cows started eating the home made supplement they started dying. We tried to save as many as we could by sticking a hose down their throats but to no avail. We lost a total of 31 cows, which is about 1/3 of our core breeding stock. These were some of our fattest and healthiest cows as these would push in first to get fed. We were devastated at our loss. It is hard to fully understand how we worked just to keep them alive. They are on agistment. Michael drives one hour each way every second day to feed and water them. We pay $770 per month for the agistment as all the stock routes have been closed. Our overdraft is now $60,000, our credit card is $16,000 overdrawn and climbing, plus there is another loan of $15,000 that was used to purchase 2 row-weeders in 2001. Any assistance that you can offer will be gratefully received."

Hearts bleeding in people who cannot cope! This week I had an urgent call from a wife, whose husband and herself have been long term unemployed. Her letter said: Gordon, I am so ashamed to have to ask for help again. I feel desperate and depressed, in fact we both are suffering from depression and been on medication for years and tried to overcome it but it is making it almost impossible to get and keep a job in the present climate. I am so scared that we are facing eviction. I don't know what to do. Have borrowed money from our relatives and can't ask again. We just need help and advice. Please telephone me." Through people who trust me with their gifts I was able to send them $1000 to pay off all that was owing to the Estate Agent and so stave off eviction. That has solved their immediate problem, but their car is unregistered, their telephone is about to be cut off, their credit rating is zero, their accommodation is sub-standard, and their children are living with others.

Life Line Sydney has received 3 million calls from people who need urgent help. I read this month's breakdown of calls: 524 calls from depressed people; 500 calls from anxious people; 420 calls from people with nowhere else to turn; 203 calls about broken marriage; 142 calls of sexual abuse; 124 calls where gambling is out of control; 120 calls from parents with teenagers off the track; 107 calls from people who did not want to go on living; 103 calls from people who were alcoholic; 71 calls from people with drug related problems; 52 people who wanted to kill themselves. And so on. Every one of these people need resources other than their own. The testimony of many people is that they could not cope if it had not been for the fact that whenever they reach a crisis in their life, they meet God.

God is able, if we have faith in Him, to give us the resources to enable us to cope. Once in Harlem, New York, in the home of an African American friend. While he was telling me of the constant theft of their property from neighbourhood gangs, he jumped up from the table and rushed out the front door, and down the steps. He had heard a slight noise. While we were eating, a gang had placed a piece of timber on a brick and lifted up the front of his car, then the back, and within a minute had removed all wheels and dropped the car onto its axles and had escaped with the four wheels. Afterwards he told me of a neighbour who after struggling to start his car, lifted the hood and discovered that someone had stolen the motor! The image stayed with me. Many Christians, like the cars, were all shiny and equipped, excepted they have neither the means nor the power to go! It is the Holy Spirit that gives us wheels and a motor - the means and the power to be effective Christians.

How can you find that power in your life? Listen! Ephesians 1:13 14 "You also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put His stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit He had promised. The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised His people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are His. Let us praise His glory!" In those few verses there are three things that are required if you are going to receive God's gift, which enables us to live in crisis and cope with complete freedom. Those three instructions can make all the difference to your life if you trust and obey them. They are not difficult, but they are essential!

1. HEAR GOD'S WORD.

You receive God's gift of His Spirit by hearing God's Word. Seek out where the Word of God is proclaimed, not some philosophy of man. Listen to the true message, the Good News that brings you salvation. For "when anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, then new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into His friends and gave us the task of making others His friends also." 2 Corinthians 5:17 That is the Gospel, the Good News: God has made you His friends because of what He has done in Jesus Christ. Hear that message. The Scripture says that by hearing God's message you start to discover God's resources for your life. We discover the true message of God when we hear the Word of God and respond believing. Hearing must be followed by a believing response. Have you heard? Have you believed? Have you responded?

2. BELIEVE GOD'S SON.

"You heard the true message, the Good news that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ. When you believed in Christ, God put His stamp of ownership upon you." Christians are owned by God. We are recognised by people as having God's stamp of ownership upon us by the quality of our living, our behaviour and our faith. Christians believing in Jesus Christ know He has been raised by God from death and is alive. You might say, "How can I know He is alive?" When the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, became the first man to reach the North Pole as he did the South Pole, he took a homing pigeon then set it free. Amundsen's wife, back in Norway, saw the pigeon circling her home. She exclaimed, "He's alive! My husband is still alive!"

So it was when Jesus ascended. He was gone, but the disciples clung to His promise to send them the Holy Spirit. What joy, then, when the dovelike Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. The disciples had with them the continual reminder that Jesus was alive and victorious. Christians have the stamp of God's ownership. What is the stamp of God's ownership? He put the stamp of His ownership upon you by giving you the Holy Spirit that He promised. You can't break God's promises by leaning on them!

3. RECEIVE GOD'S GIFT.

"God gave you the Holy Spirit as he promised." You who have believed in Jesus Christ, receive God's gift. You can receive the gift of His Holy Spirit. "The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised His people, and this assures us that God will complete freedom to those who are His." V14 God's gift of life abundant and eternal means absolute freedom, without fear, guilt and the inability to cope. You receive that assurance by hearing the Word of the Gospel, believing in Jesus and receiving His gift of the Holy Spirit. When God says "He is the guarantee" it means God's Spirit is yours now and there is more to come. This gift of the Holy Spirit that you can have now is the guarantee God gives that you will be given all of His blessings.

But how do you know when you have the Holy Spirit? Some people believe by signs, as by falling backwards "slain in the Spirit", or falling on the floor and barking like a dog; or speaking in tongues as in many Pentecostal meetings. But I have seen the presence of the Holy Spirit when people demonstrate their power to cope, when they show God's strength within.

Look for the inner strength of God's Spirit, not the outward signs which are often so fleeting. I was at a huge hydroelectric dam in the Snowy Mountains. The spillway is impressive with the water shooting in a great gusher, foam and froth everywhere. But the real business is done quietly within the dam wall where the great turbines are generating power. God's spirit deep within you generates power. All the outward signs are just froth in comparison. The certainty of God's Spirit within you enables you to cope and live without worry or fear or anxiety. It means living in the complete freedom of God's indwelling power.

Complete freedom means you are not going to be on your own ever again. It means you are going to have resources that will enable you to cope with your problem, whatever it may be and you will have an inner power that will enable you to cope. It means you will be guided into all truth, so that you will understand what God wants to have for you. You will have the promise of His presence to help you abundantly. You will be given a gift of eternal life that begins here and now and goes on throughout all eternity. It means you will be part of the family of God. The gift of God's spirit is the guarantee. Anyone who hears the message, who believes in Jesus and who then opens their heart to receive God's Spirit can have that gift.

God accepts your life past, He gives you confidence for the future, and hope for the years to come. Therefore, let us praise God. Hear the true message of the Gospel; believe in Jesus Christ. Receive His Holy Spirit within you. Then you can cope with anything that comes. Receive His Spirit as your gift. God's guaranteed gift for your life.

Wesley Mission, Sydney.