Sunday Night Live Sermons
FINDING HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST
Who He Really Is
Last Tuesday we opened the Noreen Towers Community, named to honour the forty years of service to Wesley Mission and the homeless people of Sydney, of Rev Noreen Towers. There has been much comment of late indicating that intensive commitment with families are needed if a real difference is to be made. One organization, Burnside, has announced it will spend up to 20 hours a week with selected families in the hope of improving their lives. Our centre takes in such damaged, at risk, homeless, single parent families and helps them discover skills for independent living in the community. Multiple resources are made available to cover each area of disadvantage. This is a major new development that will bring together a wide variety of our resources to create a multiple resource, cohesive program to work with extremely dysfunctional families.
What makes this work unique, is that we are the only such service that provides every family with help when they need it. We have live-in staff 24 hours a day and Wesley Mission plans to spend, not twenty hours, but 168 hours every week for nine months with each family in what will be the most intensive and extensive intervention according to family need, ever in Australia’s history. The families live in two and three bedroom apartments in Cartwright, Sydney. The Noreen Towers Community, is a large-scale community consisting of extensive lawns and gardens, three two-storey blocks of accommodation each with eight 2 & 3 bedroom units. Staff are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is also a Family Makeover Centre, which consists of a new hall, stage and kitchen, which will become the focal point for many of the group activities and training programs. Small rooms are also available for private consultation. The aim of the Family Makeover Centre is to work with 60 families per annum. The families will stay for up to 9 months paying New South Wales Department of Housing rates to rent the 2 & 3 bedroom properties. These rates are a fixed percentage of their income so their rents will be extremely low. The families vary according to their homelessness, risk factors, alcohol and drug dependence, gambling problems and the like, but all have multiple disadvantage and disability.
Each family has access to its own computer with Internet and teaching of family members to become computer literate is part of the program. Wesley Mission provides whatever welfare needs the family might have, and specialist teams from our medical and psychiatric, counselling and family support services as required. In the Makeover Centre there will be continuous programs conducted over the nine-month period. This includes an Alcoholics Anonymous group for those people for whom this is appropriate. There will be a series of other programs run by other competent trained personnel over the nine months including programs developing self-esteem, credit and financial counselling, gambling Counselling, and training in Child Protection issues, Family values and parenting skills.
One difficulty often found is finding a way to motivate family members to gain such help. These families are encouraged to attend whatever program has been worked out with them by our case-managers. Both children and parents can earn credit points: “flybuys” by attendance, which can be redeemed towards significant family holidays. Travel firms will supply holidays sponsorships. It is an important part of our total program that every family upon leaving the program will have an appropriate family member employed. Wesley Uniting Employment will provide the skills training and process each person to enable them to get suitable jobs. Wesley Mission Homeless Persons staff will have the responsibility of helping each family upon completing their time at the Family Makeover Centre, move into their own independent housing in the community. Each family will have two mentors to help in educational support doing such things as homework help for school and TAFE students and lifestyle help for mothers including cooking and family management.
Each child may receive a scholarships enabling them to join a local sporting team including the purchase of sports gear, or a culture program including music lessons through The Youth Performers Academy of the Wesley Institute. This month I met the first children who are already at the PCYC, and listened to a girl play her first piano piece. Her mother is already doing a TAFE course, and we are helping her father find a job.
We have received extensive help from the Federal Government Department of Family Service, The State Department of Housing, and the Department of Community Services. This innovative program uses resources already available in an integrated manner. We aim to help dysfunctional families live effectively and independently. It brings the widest range of skills ever assembled in Australia to help families cope with multiple disadvantage. When we support the family we support the whole nation. We reduce the cost of dysfunctional people in society, reduce the cost of the welfare system, and reduce the costs of running hospitals, jails, and charities. When we have better families, we not only have a better nation, but we are making a contribution to a better world. The key to its anticipated success is having help available when it is needed most.
Why is help never available when you need it most? Our time of deepest need is often the wrong time for formal helpers about us. Consider common experiences of people in need: if you are experiencing a stressful time with your children, Government Social Workers are available 9am to 3:30pm, not including weekends, lunchtimes, flexi-times, public holidays, rostered days off and times set apart for case work conferences, in-service training, and annual leave. Provided your need occurs during the regular times left, you can make an appointment! If you are in dreadful pain and need surgery for a joint replacement or some other elective surgery, you can join the queue, fill in forms, wait your turn, be passed from one doctor to another, be examined, diagnosed and waitlisted until next year. If you are homeless because of physical assault of a drunken husband who has made you flee onto the streets, there are places where you can go, but they are always full. 23,000 abused women were turned away from Women’s Refuges in Sydney last year. There is public housing available, but there are 100,000 on the waiting list before you. Even emergency family crisis must wait months. At Wesley Mission we have staff, volunteers and resources available when you need it. Immediate response when you need it most, often enables a quick resolution of the problem.
We have 24 hour staff in most centres to provide help when the need arises, and telephone counsellors on duty 24 hours every day. That is our principle: help available when it is needed. We all face times when we need help at that very moment. Is there some resource available to aid us whenever we need help? Jesus indicated on the night before He was crucified, He would send a Helper to be with us at all times. How can we find His help when we need it most? Jesus tells us how in John 14:15-31.
1. ACCEPT THE PERSON OF CHRIST. v15,21,23
To accept the person of Christ means to love Him and obey Him. Jesus said: “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” v15 That is the basis of your relation-ship: loving obedience. Your love for Jesus is revealed in your obedience to His commands. Jesus repeated: “Whoever accepts my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves Me. My Father will love whoever loves Me; I too will love him and reveal Myself to him… whoever loves Me will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and My Father and I will come to him and live with him. Whoever does not love Me does not obey My teaching. And the teaching you have heard is not mine, but comes from the Father, who sent Me.” v21-24 Christians must grow in love and obedience to grow more like Him. Accepting Him as both Saviour and Lord is the vital first step in finding available help when you need it. John Wesley indicated that upon loving Jesus and obeying Him, the Holy Spirit would capture part of our lives, and no matter how small, the Spirit of God would grow in His influence so long as we continued to love and obey Jesus. Christians already possesses the Spirit in some measure. Our love and obedience allows the Holy Spirit to fill our lives.
2. ACCEPT THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. v16
To accept the promise of the Holy Spirit, is to be certain of God’s available help. Jesus promised: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.” v16 Jesus Himself had been with them to help them. Now He was asking the Father for another Helper to be with them all the time, whenever they needed a helper.
3. ACCEPT THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. v17
To accept the presence of the Holy Spirit is to discover the availability of the Holy Spirit. John Stott of London, says “our world has become so secular that the word ‘spirit’ is never mentioned unless it is proceeded by the word ‘methylated’. Jesus said that “the world cannot receive Him because it cannot see Him or know Him. But you know Him because He remains with you and is in you.” v17 The Holy Spirit is the presence of God within us enabling us with strength. The early church had a vitality about it, because ordinary people received the Holy Spirit who enabled them to achieve extraordinary things. Dr W.A. Tozer once said: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95% of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament Church, 95% of what they did would stop and everybody would know the difference.” That is a dreadful indictment on the modern church. But we are true to the New Testament in encouraging Christians to accept the presence of the Spirit.
4. ACCEPT THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. v25-6
To accept the power of the Holy Spirit is to be enabled in knowledge and strength. “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.” v26. That power of the Holy Spirit is a power that is physical at times, psychological at other times, mental at times, social at times, spiritual all the time. The Helper is there to aid us. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the believer receives power, love and healing. Five times Jesus here describes the Holy Spirit as “paracletos” which was a word used to describe an advocate, a comforter, a witness, a strengthener, a helper: one who comes alongside to help us. “ When I go you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you.” v18 When the Lord comes to us it is with power at the time of our need. When Jesus said: “When I go you will not be left all alone” He used the greek word “orphanous” v18 That word in English is the word “orphan” a person left all alone in the world separated from those who had created him. Jesus was not going to leave the disciples alone, He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them.
5. ACCEPT THE PEACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. v27-29
Here is the final insight. We find help by receiving the Holy Spirit and by living with His peace within. Jesus offered us His peace: “peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” v27. His peace can hold our hearts fast regardless of the storms about our heads. Jesus Christ brought us “peace with God”, which is our right relationship with Him, When you are made right with God, nothing else matters. The Holy Spirit then brings us gifts and graces, and among them He gives “love, joy, peace…” That peace was a serenity of soul that enables a person to have a deep inner calm which holds the person while the storms of life rage about. Nothing helps us more in our time of deepest need, than a right relationship with God. Because of His Spirit within, we can cope no matter what may come. His peace speaks of adequate resources within us, the abiding companionship about us, and the power that flows through us.
As Paul put it: “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1 For our part we must discipline our emotional imagination: “Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” v27 His words are not a wish for us, nor some advice: they are in the imperative tense and are a command to control our imagination: “Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” Instead, we are to replace worry and fear with two powerful tonics that expel those negative feelings: belief and obedience. “I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it happens you will believe…I do everything as He commands me” v29,31 The old hymn put it succinctly: “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” The great psychiatrist, Professor Carl Jung said: “We moderns are faced with the necessity of rediscovering the life of the spirit. It is the only way in which we can break the spell that binds us to the cycle of biological events. There is nothing that can free us from this bond, except the opposite urge of life — the Spirit.” When you need help most, you can always turn to the Helper whom Jesus promised to those who love Him and obey His words.
Are you facing pressures and are unable to cope? Are you having to carry burdens that are too heavy? You need not be on your own. Help is available when you need it most. I spent the weekend at Vision Valley with a great group of Christian people from every part of Australia. These are the state executive members, and candidates for each electorate from the Christian Democratic Party. Although there were many speakers on political issues, there was also many times of praise to God, hymn singing and worship, none of which you would find in the program of any other political party. While we were celebrating Holy Communion in our Lake Side Chapel before breakfast early this morning, I was serving Ursula and Bennett and her husband from Moruya. Ursula is the CDP candidate for the electorate of Bega. Ursula is an expert on taxation law, a great user of the internet, the teacher of her children whom she home schools, and a very active member of her community. Recently Ursula gave birth to her eighth child. With so many children you would think birth was easy but each of her recent births was very difficult. But she manages extremely well, especially when you realise that Ursula has been totally blind since birth. As I served her and her husband communion, I wondered at the secret of their ability to cope. They attend a Church that emphasises the ministry, the presence, the power and the peace that the Holy Spirit gives. Ursula has found the help that is available when you need it most.
How can you know the presence of His Spirit within? You must first of all accept the person of Jesus Christ. Accept His forgiveness for your sins and the gift of eternal life that only the Saviour can bring and obey Him as Lord. Then Jesus offers you the promise of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the peace of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has given a Helper who comes alongside to strengthen us when we need Him most. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your life with His presence, power and peace.