How to make your life count – Joshua



Joshua 1:1-11

Notes extracted from Rick Warren


Joshua was one of the greatest generals who ever lived. He accomplished the impossible in spite of incredible odds and opposition. His life he was engaged in some kind of battle or other. Many of you can identify with that – life can seem like one long battle sometimes!


Background of Joshua 1 – the Israelites were on the verge of crossing into the Promised Land. They’d been 40 years in the wilderness. Now they were ready to cross the Jordan River knowing they were going in to possess the land.


Joshua 1:11 “Three days from now you will cross the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord is giving you for your own.”

God said, “Joshua, you’ve got a tremendous future ahead of you. I am going to do great things in your life. Everything I’ve promised and more. But it’s going to be a fight, a battle”. He says you must take possession of what I want to give you.


What will the future hold? The answer to that is it’s going to hold a mixture of blessings and battles. God says to you, “I have great things I want to do in your life. I have things you haven’t even dreamed of, how I want to bless your life. All your past is prologue, all your best days are ahead of you. But it’s going to be a battle. You must possess your future.”

In Joshua 1, God gives Joshua a pep talk. He says, “I know you’re going to be in battles for the next 20 years so I want to encourage you. I want you to do three things and these three things will sustain you through life.”

Twice in this chapter the word “success” is used. If asked, every one of us would want to be successful. What does it mean to be successful? Success in business? The arts? Sport? – these do not necessarily equal success in life!!

Jesus told a story of a very rich successful farmer who was rich in this life but a FOOL in regard to his spiritual life [life with ref. to God] – was he successful?


God’s instructions to Joshua. 1) Set up a plan. 2) Stay in the Word. 3) Step out in faith.


  1. SET UP A PLAN [Know were you are going]


God plans. He has a plan for your life. If you’re going to be like God you’ve got to learn how to plan. You need to know where you are going because that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.

  1. 2-3 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river. . . . I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”


“get ready”. God says, “Get ready for the future!” Prepare for what’s ahead! You must prepare to possess what God has promised.

Here is a wonderful example of faith and works – the Christian life is not a passive sitting around waiting for blessings to fall from heaven. God says to the Israelites “I have given you the Promised Land – now go and possess it”.


Paul says a similar thing in Philippians 2:12-13

12 …… — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.


What is Joshua’s response? v. 11a So Joshua ordered the people `Get your supplies ready’.”

Have you given any thought of what’s going to happen next year in your spiritual life? Or do you just kind of drift through life.


God says, “Do you want to be successful? First, get ready!” Don’t go through life unexamined. Look at where you’re going – get direction. Set up a plan. [Know where you are going]


Notice, “Moses, my servant, is dead.”

One of the ways you prepare for the future is to let go of the past. Joshua and Moses were very, very close. Joshua had been with Moses for 40 years. He had been his understudy. Now, Moses was dead. How would you like to replace Moses as leader? I’m sure Joshua felt a little nervous – or may be a lot.


Yet, God said Joshua, “I have a plan for your life.”

Sometimes we let past relationships keep us from receiving God’s promises. It may be a death, a divorce, a friend moves a way, or maybe you’re still saying, “How can I gain the approval of that person in my past.” God says, “Let go of the past so you can get on with the present.” He wants to work in your life and do great things. You will never possess your future as long as you perpetuate your past.


Does that mean you forget your past – cut off your roots? NO! BUT there is a difference between remembering your past / learning from it and clinging to it / living in the past!!


ILLUS.: A Meg-church in USA started and pastored by one man – He died and a new pastor came. Nearly every hall and classroom was in memory of the first pastor. After a year the new pastor could stand it no longer – being told Pastor “So-and-so” used to do this and that. One Sunday morning he collected all 23 portrait of the First pastor and line them up in front of the pulpit – He began his sermon by pointing to the portraits and reading Joshua 1 – “Moses my servant is dead” – i.e. let the past remain in the past let us get on with the present!


ILLUS.: My sister Jayne and my brother’s wife Esther were killed in a motor accident in 1976. Some time later my brother wrote a little booklet entitled “Lessons I have learned in the night” – in the closing section he writes this – “Finally, I am learning to close the door on the past and look to God for the future. God, in his wisdom and love, has chosen to take Esther to himself, and therefore it would be sinful for me to try and live with memories, in an effort to bring her back. Following the death of that great leader, Moses the lord said to Joshua, Moses, my servant, is dead, now therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Leigh continues “God has spared me for a purpose, and it is my desire to discover that purpose and do his will at any cost.”


God said, Moses is dead! It’s over. He’s buried. Moses was dead but God wasn’t. God had a plan for Joshua’s life that went far beyond what Moses had done. He said you’ve got to let go of the past – don’t live in the past. Many things in the past were good, some of them were bad. But let’s go on.


What do you need to bury? A bad failure, a bad experience, a hurt? Let it go. Joshua had to prepare himself.

Proverbs 13:16 (Living Bible) “A wise man thinks ahead”.


God says to Joshua, Set up a plan! Not your own plans – Not as the world plans, leaving God out altogether. Not as some Christians plan, tacking God on to their own plans, asking God to be a rubber stamp. BUT plan according to God’s criteria – knowing God’s way [Know where you are going].




God says to Joshua, “You’re going to be in the battles for the next 25 years, you’re going to be fighting, and the Bible is your instruction manual for conflict. It is the manual for the battles of life.”

Notice v. 7 “Be careful to obey all the Law. Do not turn from it to the right or the left that you may be successful wherever you go.”


“don’t turn from the right or left”. It is easy to get side-tracked today, as a Christian? Often people start out well and then they get side-tracked — sometimes by very good things. – by their career. Or by sport, or a hobby, or a financial difficulty, or an illness, or having more children, whatever. Somehow they lose their focus on the Word.

The Word. That’s the key.

  1. 8, one of the greatest promises of the Bible, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”


Keep your mind saturated with the Word of God and you’ll be successful. The point is this: God’s promise of success has absolutely nothing to do with your ability. It is not your ability but your commitment to His Word that God promises will bring success in your life.


How do you stay in the Word? Three ways:

Don’t let it depart out of your mouth.” — talk about the Word of God.

Meditate on it day and night — think about the Word of God.

Be careful to do everything written in it– always obey it – do it!


What does it mean to stay in the Word?

It means I talk about it, I think about it and I live it.


2 Timothy 3:16 (Living Bible) The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and helps us to do what is right.”

God’s word “straightens me out”, it shows me the path I walk on, how to walk on it. It shows me when I get off the path, it shows me how to get back on the path, it shows me how to stay on the path. “It’s good for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work”. The Bible says that God’s Word is your soul food.


Spurgeon once said, “A Bible that is coming apart is usually owned by somebody who’s not”. Usually your Bible is coming apart or you are.


I imagine Joshua is a pretty busy man. He’s the leader of an entire nation. He doesn’t have a lot of spare time. But he made time to read the Bible, to pray. He was a man of communion with God. Busyness is no excuse. You must make time to stay in the Word on a regular basis.




Many people think faith is just something you believe. Faith is more than mental assent. It’s more than just knowing. It’s an action.

ILLUS.: I can believe a plane will fly but it doesn’t mean anything until I get on board.

Some say, “I believe in Jesus”. So what? So does the devil. Faith means, “to commit yourself to”. You must step out in faith because faith is an action.


Three times in this passage there’s a phrase, be strong and courageous [bold]” v 6, 7, 9.   There are going to be a lot of things in your life that will distract you, discourage you, depress you but be strong and courageous. Step out in faith!

The background: The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. They had the chance 40 years earlier, and they blew it. Now they get the second chance. They’re at the edge of the Jordan river, ready to cross over into the new land, knowing that the moment they cross that river it’s an act of war against the seven other nations already living there. There would no telling how long it would last. Every one of the seven nations was larger and stronger than the Israelites. Now you know why God is says, “Be strong and courageous”.


What gave Joshua the confidence to move ahead? v. 9 “Remember I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord, am with you wherever you go.”

God said, “Remember who you’re doing this for. You represent the King of Kings. You’re on assignment from the Almighty God. Who do you think told you to do this? If I told you to do it, I’m going to be with you.” When God tells you to do something, He gives you the power to do it. God has never sponsored a flop. God says “I’m going to be with you; step out in faith!”


“Afraid” and “discouraged”. These are two enemies that will keep you from becoming all God wants you to be. Fear keeps us from getting started. Discouragement keeps us from continuing.

This double whammy hits us — fear and discouragement — and they keep us from making our lives count. They keep you from being all God wants you to be. It’s fear that keeps us in the desert, when we could be living in the Promised Land. It keeps us from becoming all God wants us to be. He says, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged! I am with you!”


Joshua was a man of courage. What is courage? Courage is not having no fear. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear.

Courage is when you move ahead in spite of your fear and you witness to that person at work or you tackle that assignment or try that project or go after that dream. You do it in spite of your fear.


Literally, in this story, they had to step out in faith. In chapter 3, they came up to the Jordan River, – probably overflowing – it was springtime – the flood stage. Normally the Jordan River is about 100 feet across, 20 feet deep. But in the flood stage it had swelled over the banks. Even today, for a modern army to cross a river like that takes some time. But for a group of rag-tag slaves who came out of Egypt, it was impossible! God said, “I want the priests out in front carrying the Ark of the Covenant. I want the priests to start walking out into the water, taking the step of faith, trusting Me and I’m going to do a miracle.” He didn’t tell them of how He was going to do it.


The priests took the Ark of the Covenant in front of the whole nation of about a million people and began to walk into the Jordan River. God dammed up the river, further up stream at a place called Adam, about 17-19 miles north. I don’t know how He did it. The fact is the water stopped.

Joshua 3:15 “As soon as the priests stepped into the river the water stopped flowing and piled up.” As it piled up, the water lower down began to subside. Eventually it was dry. The priests had to stand there in the middle of the river while one million people passed through, then they were the last ones to leave. They had to have extended faith that it wouldn’t start up again. They literally had to step out in faith. It’s a beautiful lesson for us.


The principle: the first step is always the hardest. Always! In anything! In writing a term paper / essay in an exam, what’s the most difficult sentence? The first sentence. If you play rugby, the first tackle is always the hardest tackle. After that you of get used to it, it’s not so bad. The first step is always the hardest.


What is your Jordan River? What is the barrier that is keeping you from becoming all God wants you to be? Where is it in your life? Is in a relationship? A career? Something you’re holding on to that you don’t want to let go of? Is there something keeping you in the desert and out of the Promised Land?


What I admire most about Joshua was that he was a man of conviction. He was willing to stand alone for what was right. He was willing to go against popular opinion. He was willing to do the unexpected, the unusual. Even when society said, “Do this!” he said, “No, that’s not the way to do it.” He was a man of conviction. The Bible says that 40 years earlier, Moses had chosen 12 spies and they had gone into the Promised Land to spy out the land and they came back. Ten of the spies said, “No way! We can’t do it! They are powerful and strong. They are like giants. They’ll eat us up. We were like grasshoppers in their sight.” Everybody said, “Yes, that’s right! We can’t do it.”

But there were two men who said, “We can!” Joshua and Caleb. They said “We can do it! We can take them on! They’re like bread ready to be eaten up. Let’s take them on!” The entire nation said no, but two men said yes. It’s interesting, forty years later, God had to let the entire adult population die off and only two of those original people got to go into the Promised Land — Caleb and Joshua.


Maybe some of you are saying, “I don’t know why I should step out on faith. It’s pretty comfortable right where I am. I like my life as it is. Why should I step out? I’m getting older.” Joshua was 80 years old when God called him to cross the Jordan River and go into battle for the next 25 years.


It is never too late to say “Yes!” to God – to make our lives count.” That’s what Joshua did.


The verse that best reveals Joshua’s character is 25:15 – Joshua said at the end of his life, Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Have you made that decision in your home – in your life? It’s a choice. What kind of person are you going to be a year from now?

God says, “Make your choice.” The future begins with a commitment. “Choose you this day whom you are going to serve.” Other gods? Or God.


Joshua 3:5 “Then Joshua told the people, `Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow God will do amazing things among you!'” They’re getting ready to cross the Jordan and he says, Consecrate, dedicate, surrender yourself to God, for tomorrow God will do amazing things among you! All the past is prologue. The best is yet to come.”


“Consecrate yourself for tomorrow God will do amazing things among you.” There will be battles. Even when the children of Israel got into the Promised Land there were still battles to be fought, giants and problems to be overcome. Even in the Promised Land there are battles. But there are blessings.


The name Joshua means Deliverer, Saviour. He was the deliverer for his people. He delivered them into the Promised Land and he beat off all these seven nations and 31 different kings. His name means Deliverer. Hundreds of years later God told Mary to name her boy Joshua. Jesus is a Greek word for Joshua in Hebrew. Jesus was named after Joshua because he, too, would be a deliverer. God said just like that great deliverer of old I’m sending a new deliverer to the world.


What’s the parallel? The parallel is that the other Joshua (Jesus) wants to take possession of your life. Just like the first Joshua was to take possession of the land, Jesus wants to take possession of your life. The only question is will it be a battle? This chapter is packed full of promises. The promise of power, of presence, of prosperity, of peace, of all these things in his life. In v. 5 He says, I’ll be with you and no one will be able to stand up against you.


Many of you have already taken that first step and opened your life up to Jesus Christ.. If you haven’t, do it today.

After you’ve taken that first step of faith, I challenge you to make three commitments – if you haven’t already done so:


  1. I’m going to spend time praying and planning. Set some goals — some spiritual goals. How much of the Bible do I want to read? Set up a plan to memorise Scripture, to have a daily quiet time, start tithing, get involved in a ministry, some kind of spiritual goals. Set up some family goals, some physical goals, some financial goals, some social goals, some mental goals. All these areas God wants you to work in. Career goals. Balance your life. But first make a commitment to pray and to plan.


  1. I make a commitment to stay in the Word. Make a time. Make a commitment to increase the time spent daily in God’s Word.


  1. Make a commitment to step out in faith. Join a small group. Get involved somewhere in a ministry. Begin giving of your financial resources. Share your faith with others.


Set up a plan, stay in the Word, step out in faith. God says, “Then I will bless you, there will still be battles even very tough battles, but remember the I will be with you”




Father, what a great man this Joshua was, not in and of himself but because He was committed to a great God. May we like him, be men and women of conviction and character and compassion and communion and courage. May we possess the future – receive all that you plan for us. Lord, you desire to bless your people I pray that today we would recommit ourselves to you.





Joshua 1:1-11


“Three days from now you will cross the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord is giving you for your own.” (v 11b)


  1. Set up a Plan [Know where you are going]


    “Moses, my servant, is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river . . . . I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” (v 2-3)


“So Joshua ordered .. the people `Get your supplies ready‘.” (v 11a)


  1. Stay in the Word


    “Be careful to obey all the Law . . . do not turn from it to the right or the left that you may be successful wherever you go.” (v 7)


    “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (v 8)


  1. Step out in Faith


       “Be strong and courageous!” (v 6, 7, 9)


Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (v 9)


Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15


How to make your life count – Joseph



Genesis 39:23

23 The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (NIV)

Notes extracted from Rick Warren


Two of the great laws of life we must eventually learn are:-

  • things don’t always go as planned;
  • many circumstances you have in life are uncontrollable;


ILLUS.: Businesses go bankrupt, employees get fired, students get passed over for scholarships, business plans fail, friends move away, cricketers and rugby players lose matches.


Life just doesn’t always go the way we want it to go. Many things in life are beyond our control. Many things in life are caused by factors I can’t control.

ILLUS.: You didn’t choose who your parents would be, you didn’t choose your race, you didn’t choose your sex, you didn’t choose when and where you would be born, and the circumstances surrounding that.


These are the cards that you’re dealt in life. How you play them is your choice. We all know people who have overcome great adversity to make their life count.

How to make your life count in spite of your circumstances.


Let’s look at a man named Joseph [the coloured coat Joseph] who really made his life count. He went from a, a slave and a prisoner to the second highest-ranking person in the nation of Egypt which was the most powerful country in the world at that time. He went from the pit to the palace. He showed that what counts in life is not your circumstances but your character. The Bible says that character, not circumstances, will determine what you do with your life.


  1. Joseph’s circumstances.


Genesis 37-50, the story of Joseph. This story has it all — revenge, deceit, lust, seduction, attempted murder, violence, rape, false charges in prison. It would make a great TV drama.


We could summarise Joseph’s difficulties in three words:

He was rejected at home. His dad liked him but nobody else did.

He was seduced and slandered at work.

He was forgotten by friends.

The first thirty years of his life, nothing went right.

He was rejected at home. He was the second to last of thirteen children – he had eleven brothers and a sister. There was a lot of rivalry and bitterness. The brothers were jealous of Joseph. There was favouritism. They didn’t like him.

Genesis 37:4    4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (NIV)


One day they plotted, Genesis 37:19-20     19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.    20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”


That’s real brotherly love! They put him in the well and soon some slave merchants came by to whom they sold him to for twenty shekels. He was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave to a man named Potiphar. Overnight he went from pampered son to slave.

That’s rejection by your family! Some of you think you’ve been rejected. Joseph knew rejection.


Then he started working for Potiphar and he was very successful. He was put in charge of everything in the home. But Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph. She tried to seduce him.

Genesis 39:6-10     6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,

7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”     8 But he refused. ……

10 And though she asked Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her. (NIV)


Sexual harassment in the work place is about 4000 years old. It works both ways: men to women and women to men. Joseph refused. He holds onto his morals.

At one point in a fit of passion she grabbed him by the robe but he slithered out of it and he lost his coat but he kept his character.

She framed him: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

When Potiphar came home she told him “That Hebrew slave tried to rape me!”


So Joseph is thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s falsely accused. Things are going from bad to worse.

He gets into prison and again he rises to be the jailer’s right-hand man; in fact, he is given the keys. Imagine trusting a prisoner with the keys to the jail – Joseph was man of character!

He befriended two of Pharaoh’s staff members – the baker and the cupbearer [wine-steward]. He had helped them out.

One of them got out, he promptly forgot Joseph. “Please be kind enough to mention me to the king and help me get out of this prison. But the wine steward never gave Joseph another thought – he forgot all about him.” [Gen.40:14+23]


Sometimes jealous people will try to hurt you and immoral people will try to tempt you and ambitious people will try to use you, but you can still succeed if you have the Lord in your life.


“The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” Gen.39:23


  1. Joseph’s Character


Three times in this story it says, “The Lord was with Joseph.”

Why was God with Joseph? What was Joseph that made him so different.

What do I do when circumstances seem to work against me and my dreams? What do I do to make my life count? How can I make an impact when it seems like everything is conspiring to make me mediocre?

Like Joseph I do three things:

1) I fulfill my responsibilities. Wherever you are you do what God’s called you to do right there.

2) I maintain my integrity. No matter what happens in the situation, I keep my purity and integrity and maintain my standards.

3) I trust God’s sovereignty.


(1) Fulfilled his Responsibility:

He was dependable, reliable. He always gave his best no matter what. As a result he’s promoted to leadership.

First as a slave, Genesis 39:6 “Potiphar gave Joseph complete responsibility over everything he owned. He hadn’t a worry in the world with Joseph there.”


Potiphar had no worries. Can your boss say that about you? The Bible says Potiphar prospered because of Joseph. Does your boss prosper because of you?


Then he got thrown into jail.

Genesis 39:22-23 22 So the warder put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.

23 The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (NIV)

You can’t keep a good man down! He gets thrown into prison and the next thing he’s assistant warden! The cream rises to the top. If life gave him a lemon he made lemonade.

Joseph is saying, “I don’t know why these things are happening to me, but I do know how I’m supposed to act. I don’t know why these circumstances have been caused in my life, but I do know who’s Lord of my life.”

Whenever anybody turned any responsibility over to Joseph, he didn’t have to have any worries at all; he was reliable. Do you do your best with your job, even when you hate it? Joseph is in prison on false charges and he’s rising to the top. Do you spend all your time dreaming about what “might be” — the things you’d like to see?


Eventually Joseph gets out of jail – he tells Pharaoh how to avoid the impending crisis – an Pharaoh give him the job!!

Genesis 41:38-40 38 So Pharaoh said, “Can we find anyone like this man [Joseph], one in whom is the spirit of God?”      39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no-one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”


The quality of your work reveals the quality of your spiritual life. The Holy Spirit was obvious in Joseph’s life.

Is that true in your life? There’s a direct correlation between shoddy workmanship and a poor testimony. When I call myself a Christian and I don’t do good work, that’s an insult to God’s reputation. It doesn’t insult His character because nobody can touch God’s character, but we can damage His reputation.

“Harry claims he’s a Christian but he’s the laziest guy in the office! He takes extra long tea breaks. He just does the minimum.”


Christians ought to be the best they can be at work no matter what they do – Whether it shining shoes or being chief executive of a multi-national Company. You’re not called to be better than others are but you are called to be the best you can be. I’m not called to be the best pastor in England. I am called to be the best pastor I can possibly be. You’re called to be the best you can be.

Joseph fulfilled his responsibility.


Law of Success — Luke 16:10      10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (NIV)


When I make it big then I’m going to be faithful!” What are you doing about the day by day responsibilities right now? Are you being faithful in the little things? “When I get out of debt I’m going to start tithing.” Who are you trying to fool? “When everything gets settled down, I’ll start reading my Bible.” If you’re not faithful with little responsibility, He’s not going to give you great responsibility.


The Bible says that every task, no matter what it is, is an opportunity to develop and demonstrate faithfulness. Everything you do, people are watching you and God’s watching you. Are you being faithful in the little things?

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do it all heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men knowing that the Lord is your real master and He will reward you.” God always rewards faithfulness in the little things.


(2) Maintained his integrity.

Joseph was a man of moral purity so much that Mrs. Potiphar had to invent things about him.

Genesis 39:10, the boss’s wife came to Joseph, “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.” Can you imagine the internal battle going on in Joseph’s mind?

He refuses to give in. “I’m a slave against my will in a foreign country. Life has not gone as I’ve planned it. I’ve lost my dream, I might as well lose my morals too! Life is tough! I owe it to myself to get a little pleasure. Who cares? What’s God done for me? My life is going in reverse. I’m not upwardly mobile, I’m downwardly mobile.” Besides, if he befriended the boss’s wife, he might even get more promotion. But he would not give in!


What makes him maintain his standard of purity and moral integrity even when his world is falling apart.

Two things:

  • “My master trusts me with everything in this entire household. How can I do such a wicked thing as this?
  • It would be a great sin against God!”


What motivated his purity? His loyalty to others and his love for God.

He said, “My master’s made me in charge of all this. How could I do it to him?” Whenever you sin you hurt somebody else. Whenever you lower your integrity, you hurt other people. He would not give in!


Proverbs 14:32 “Wicked people bring about their own downfall by their evil, but good people are protected by their integrity.”


Sometimes when you resist temptation of any kind, you’re not going to feel good about it at that time. I’m sure Joseph was probably saying to himself, when he kept turning down Potiphar’s wife, “I’ve got to be crazy to walk away from this! Nobody would know.”

We might be tempted in all sorts of ways, “If I could make one little change here on the form and fill in the wrong figure, I could save £500! I’ve got to be crazy to not do it — to fudge a little bit here and things will work out right. I’ll forget conveniently to tell this to my suppliers or my customers.” Just conveniently shave the truth a little bit. You’re not always going to feel real good when you resist temptation.


Look where Joseph’s integrity got him. He says, “No!” he gets fired and he gets put in jail. How good do you think he felt about his integrity?


The point is: In the long run it always pays to do the right thing. In the short run you may feel sad, but in the long run you will feel glad. You’ll say, Thank God I didn’t do that for a moment of pleasure or a few extra ££’s!


Potiphar’s wife grabbed onto him, stole his coat. He left his coat and ran out of there. But he kept his character.

So when things go wrong in my life and things aren’t working out right, I fulfil my responsibility and I maintain my integrity,


(3) God’s sovereignty.  

As a young man God gave Joseph a dream of making an impact with his life. One day in total naivete he shared it with his brothers and dad: “God gave me this dream that one day I’m going to be a great king and everyone is going to bow down to me, even you guys. Isn’t that great?” How would you like your younger brother to say that to you?   They weren’t too excited about that. It was a right dream but it was very naive to share it with those people.


For thirty years Joseph’s life went downhill. During that entire thirty years, God never explained to him what was going on. He must have often been confused. He had no idea what was going on. He had every reason to doubt God’s love. “God, You gave me a dream. What happened?” He had every reason to be bitter: “Why me, God? You give me a dream and now I end up a slave, falsely accused of rape, and in prison in a foreign country.” Things are not going well.


But years later it all became clear. Joseph was eventually promoted to be second in command under Pharaoh. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. He said, “We’re going to have seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine.” Pharaoh said, “What should we do?” Joseph said, “We ought to start a national savings system where for seven years we save all the extra crops and put them in storage so that when the seven years of famine come Egypt will have plenty to eat.” Pharaoh said, “You’re in charge! You do it!” And he did it.


God blessed Joseph so much that when the seven years of famine came not only did Egypt have more than enough food that they had stored up in advance, but it said all the other nations came to Egypt to buy food, among them the Israelites. So, many years later, Joseph’s own brothers come to Egypt to buy food from a man unaware that he is their brother that they tried to murder and then sold. What would you do in that face to face encounter? He’s second in command. He could order their execution immediately. But he didn’t.


Genesis 45:7-8 “God sent me ahead of you to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Two very important lessons of life we’ve got to learn if we’re going to deal with circumstances:


  1. Pain often has a hidden purpose. Usually you don’t figure out what the purpose is until after the pain is over. We rarely see the purpose of it while we’re in pain.


  1. God often redirects our lives through a failure, a mistake, a disappointment, a broken dream. He often re-channels our life the way He wants it to be.


ILLUS.: Our plan was to go to Turkey as missionaries – that is what we prepared for and work towards – God didn’t let it happen. We felt that we have been abandoned in UK. We still don’t have all the answers – I certainly would never have been Pastor at Binscombe. {Maybe some of you wish we had gone to Turkey!}


I am sure many can look back a say “Why did this or that happen?”


Joseph said, “God sent me ahead of you.” Notice his reaction to his brothers who tried to murder him. Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Many of you have been harmed by other people — a former spouse, a parent, a brother or sister, a teacher, a boss, a former girlfriend — they meant to harm you. There’s no doubt about it! They meant to harm you! But God meant it for good. He has a plan that is greater than your problem.


One of the most popular words around today is the word “victim”. We’re all victimised now. In Christ, you don’t have to stay a victim. You can be a victor! Those people may mean it for bad but God means it for good. That’s a fact of Christian life. You don’t have to allow people to continue to hurt you from your past. They meant it for bad but God is greater and God meant it for good.


Bitterness is refusing to trust in God’s sovereignty. It’s saying, “I don’t really think God has my best interest at heart…. I don’t really think God’s in control…. I’m bitter because this is happening to me and I don’t think God knows what He’s doing by allowing it.”

I am not saying He caused it. He didn’t. But nothing happens in this world without God allowing it. What about all the sin? God gives us freedom of choice. He chooses to allow us to have freedom of choice. As a result innocent people get hurt. That’s the bad news.


The good news is that God can turn it around. They may mean it to harm you but God means it for good to develop in your into what He wants you to be — that special person with the character He wants you to have.


Joseph had a persistent faith. For thirty years nothing goes right. Even when he didn’t understand, he trusted God.

Where did his dreams get him? Into slavery. Where did his integrity get him? Into prison. Where did his helping others get him? Nowhere.

But you don’t see him bitter, having a pity party. You see him fulfilling his responsibility, doing the best he can with what he had.


What do you do when circumstances disrupt the dream God has given you? You do what Proverbs 3:5-6, says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. [Don’t try to figure it all out. Trust in God, He’ll help you. Ask Him.] In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”


When I’m going through a circumstance that I don’t like, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Is it my fault? A lot of things I bring on myself.
  2. What can I learn from this?
  3. How does God want me to act in this circumstance?


Philippians 1:27 I think summarises Joseph’s life. “But WHATEVER HAPPENS, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It’s not so much what happens to you, but what happens through you. It’s not so much your circumstances, it’s your character that makes you great. Whatever happens make sure your everyday life is worthy of the gospel. One of the secrets of Joseph’s success is that he honoured God in everyday life — in the trivial, the mundane, the day to day chores he honoured God.


The issue is character, not circumstances.




Genesis 39:23 “… the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”


  1. Joseph’s Circumstances


  • Rejected at home


…his brothers … hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Genesis 37:4

“Let’s not kill him . . . let’s throw him into this well so he’ll die without our touching him!” Genesis 37:22 (GN)


  • Slandered at work


… and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”        But he refused. …..        she asked Joseph day after day…

She told Potiphar this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us tried to rape me” Genesis 39:7,10,17


  • Forgotten in prison.


“… remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. … The chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. Genesis 40:14,23











  1. Joseph’s Character


  • Fulfilled his responsibility

Potiphar gave Joseph responsibility for everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Genesis 39:6


The jailer put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. Genesis 39:22


So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38


Whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10


  • Maintained his integrity


              Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. Genesis 39:10


…everything my master owns he has entrusted to my care.…. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:8-9


              Wicked people bring about their own downfall by their evil, but good people are protected by their integrity. Proverbs 14:32 (GN)


  • Trusted God’s Sovereignty


           “God sent me ahead of you . . . to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:7-8


           “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20


           “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6


“But WHATEVER HAPPENS, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Phil. 1:27

How to make your life count – David


I Samuel 16:7

(Notes extracted from Rick Warren)


What is the secret of greatness? It depends on who you ask. Hollywood might say, “A pretty face is the secret of greatness in Hollywood.” At Westminster they might say, “Connections and knowing the right people are the key to greatness.” In the City – London’s financial world – they might say, “Financial clout and the Old school tie is the key to greatness.” If you go to one of the football games today they might say, “Ball skill is a key to greatness — physical fitness.”


What does God say greatness is?

I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

heart“. God says that greatness is determined by character, not by reputation. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Character is the bottom line. If you want to make your life count, if you want to be great, it’s a matter of the heart.


David was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was a king, a shepherd, a poet, a general. He wrote the most beloved book in the Bible — Psalms. He united the tribe of Israel into one Kingdom. He was a giant killer. He had an incredible line up of achievements. But God wasn’t impressed with any of those things.


What impressed God about David was his heart.

In Acts 13:22, God said David is a man after my own heart.”

What about you and me? Do we want to be?

How do you develop a heart for God?

Let’s look at David   – How did he handle life?

There are four great tests of the heart in life: sin, stress, service, success.


David’s response to sin was a repentant heart.

David’s response to stress was a trusting heart. He trusted God when under stress.

David’s response to service – when he was asked to serve – was a servant’s heart.

David’s response to success was a humble heart. He didn’t let it go to his head.


  1. David’s response to sin was a repentant heart.


He had a tender, sensitive conscious. When David blew it, he admitted it. He didn’t hide it. He didn’t deny it. He didn’t make excuses for it. He didn’t rationalise it. When somebody confronted him with his sin he said, “You’re right. I blew it.” He was sensitive. He was willing to repent.


Psalm 51:1-3 “O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stains of my sins. Wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again for I admit my shameful deeds.” This is David’s prayer of confession after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He lays all the cards on the table. I blew it. It was wrong. He doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t excuse it. He doesn’t blame Bathsheba. He is honest before God and that’s the first characteristic of a heart after God.


The Bible tells the truth. It’s called the Holy Bible, but you’ll never find a book that has more murder and rape and incest and problems. It’s all in there because the Bible tells the truth. When it talks about man it talks about his good and his bad.

When George Washington, first president of the USA, was first painted he said, “Paint me, warts and all.” He didn’t want any air brush stuff!

The Bible paints David, warts and all. He was a king, a poet, a great leader. He was also a liar, a betrayer, an adulterer, and a murderer. It shares his successes but it also shares his struggles and weaknesses.


You don’t have to be perfect to have a heart after God. Now God’s aim is to make us perfect – like Jesus! BUT we come as sinner. David is called a “man after my own heart”. He was a great sinner but he was also a great repenter. You don’t have to be perfect to have a heart after God. You just have to be a great repenter.

Being just a sinner is not the worst thing you can be in God’s eyes!! Rather it is being a sinner and not being willing to acknowledge the fact and seeking God’s forgiveness – that is a far worse state to be in.


Ps. 51:17.   …..a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (NIV) “God will not reject a repentant heart,”

David believed in a forgiving God. He focused more on God’s forgiveness than he did on his own failure and that’s why “He’s a man after my own heart.”


Satan has conned many into thinking, “Because of my past God can never use me. Because of my past, I’ll never amount to anything great in the kingdom of God.” Wrong! If God could use David, He can use anybody. Don’t let the devil say that to you. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to repent quickly and admit it when you’re wrong.


Evaluate your heart. Compare it to David’s. How do I react when I sin? Do I deny it? Excuse it? Rationalise it? OR Do I repent before God?

God says when it comes to sin, a man after My own heart has a repentant heart.


  1. When it comes to stress, he has a trusting heart.


Few people experienced more stress than David.

Psalm 118:5-6 5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. 6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. …… (NIV)

Psalm 118:5-6 “In my distress I prayed to the Lord. He answered me and rescued me. He is for me. How can I be afraid?”

Very few people had stress like David did. He had constant war with his neighbouring nations. He had to fight giants, run from Saul and hide in caves for years. Incredible family problems — his family was a mess. He had one son rape his daughter and another son kill that brother. He had another son rebel against him and take over the throne and then was killed. Lots of tragedy and stress in his life.

David said, “I pray, I trust, and I keep moving.” Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is moving in spite of your fear. He said, God is my rock, God is my shield, God is my fortress. When I am under stress I trust God.


Ps. 73:26 “My mind and my body may grow weak but God is my strength. He is all I ever need.”

Everybody else was afraid to take on Goliath. But David wasn’t. Everybody else said, “He’s too big to kill! He’s too big to hit!” David said, “No, he’s too big to miss!” And David refused to wear Saul’s armour. He said, “God’s all I need. God is my strength.”

Everybody has their dark days, down days, depression. Depression is not a sin. It’s what you do with it. Depression is a warning light. David wrote some of his most beautiful Psalms while he was depressed. Ps. 116:10 “I kept on believing.” Some of you need to do that. You’re going through dark times right now. Keep on believing!


When you develop a photograph you take it into a dark room. Photos develop in the dark through a process of very strong acid. If the acid isn’t strong enough the picture doesn’t come out clearly. Some of you are going through dark times right now. You’re going through a process of acid. It is eating you up! But God is developing you. A beautiful picture is going to come out! Keep on believing.


When you sin, have a repentant heart. When you’re under stress, have a trusting heart.

  1. David’s response to service was a servant’s heart.


He was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do, more than willing. His desire was always, “I want to do God’s will more than anything else.”


Acts 13:22      22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (NIV)

Could God say that about us? David did everything God asked him to do. He had a servant’s heart.

Characteristics of a servant’s heart:

  1. He was whole hearted. Ps 119:10 “With all my heart I try to serve you” With zeal and enthusiasm. He did it because it was a joy not a duty. He wanted to serve the Lord.


That’s different than us today. So often we’re lukewarm. We say, “Get somebody else to do it. Let somebody else serve there; I don’t have the time.”, Some say, “What are you looking at me for? I’m not your servant!” That’s an attitude of life for many. A servant to nobody, much less God. They’re too independent. David had a servant’s heart. Jesus said, “If you want to be great you must be the servant of all.” Greatness comes through service. You’ll never be great until you learn to be a servant, serve other people.


The test comes in serving in the areas we don’t enjoy – Not simply doing what we want and then claiming it is for others. Parents often fall into this trap with Children. They run their children here and there – to dancing or swimming or some other activity – then are deeply hurt / offended when the children don’t appreciate them and thanks them. The question is – “Who was it for – the child’s benefit or the parent’s ego?”

We can make the same mistake in many areas!!


  1. He was focused. He refused to be side-tracked by less important things. Psalm 119:18 18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (NIV) – —   —–“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” That would be a good verse to put on your TV. Write it on the cover of some magazines you’ve got! The good is often the enemy of the best.

For many people Trivial Pursuit is not a game it’s a way of life / lifestyle.

They are chasing one thing after the other, the latest fad.


David was focused. He wanted to serve God because that was what was going to count for eternity.

“Some things are not necessarily wrong, they’re just not necessary.” You can still be a Christian and do a lot of things, but why would you want to? The good is the enemy of the best. Get rid of trivial pursuits in your life and make your life count. Why? Because God says, That’s what it means to be a man/woman after My own heart.


  1. He was sacrificial. David was willing to invest his time and his money. 2 Samuel 24:24 “I will not offer to the Lord, sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” David was going to build an altar to God and a man told him he could have his land, rocks, cattle — that he would pay for the whole altar. David said, “No way! When it comes to serving God, I don’t serve God with freebies. I don’t serve God with my leftovers. I don’t serve God when it doesn’t cost me. I owe everything to my creator, my saviour. I will never offer to the Lord that which cost me nothing!”


If you claim to be a Christian, what is it costing you? It doesn’t cost me much to be a Christian in the UK. If it was illegal to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Greatness always requires sacrifice. Mediocrity — you just try to get by. What is the minimum I can do and still call myself a Christian? What is the minimum I can do and still say I believe in God. I’ll be a mediocre Christian. Greatness always requires sacrifice.


David was a man after God’s own heart because when he sinned he repented quickly. When he was under stress he turned to God and trusted him immediately. And when he served he trusted Him wholeheartedly, freely, willingly, and sacrificially. He eventually experienced the fourth test. If you do the first three the fourth is inevitable.


  1. Success. David’s response to success was a humble heart.


I Samuel 18:14 “In everything David did, he had great success because the Lord was with him.”

everything“. He was probably one of the most successful men who ever lived. After he knocked off Goliath he became a national hero. His name was known everywhere and people even wrote songs about him, Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. They praised and adored him. The Bible says that all Judah and Israel loved David. He was Mr. Popularity. He could do no wrong. He has one after another — an unbroken string of successes. He’s Mr. Famous. At the top of his career. That is the ultimate test of your heart.


How do you handle praise? Success? Material success? Do you spend it all on yourself? How do you handle the good life? We may not always think we have an easy life but look around the world – we live on Easy Street?

David’s response was that he gave all the glory to God. He refused to take credit for himself. He didn’t let it go to his head.

Someone said, Man is an amazing animal. He’s the only animal if you pat him on the back, his head swells.

Very few who can handle adulation and praise. Very few people can handle success without it ruining them. There are very few people who can handle financial success without it ruining them.


How do you handle it when people praise you? It’s much easier to handle adversity. When everything is going well we tend to forget God.


David’s attitude.

Psalm 115:1

1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory,

David gave all the credit and glory to God. He did not let it go to his head.

He had a humble heart.


How could he be so balanced? How could he handle it? Because he knew the truth.


Psalm 75:5-7 “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth but only from God. He promotes one and he deposes another.” (para)

David knew this from personal experience. There was a long delay between the time he was chosen by God to be the king of Israel and Samuel the prophet came and anointed him while he was still a shepherd. From the time he was anointed to be the king and the time he actually assumed the throne was 20 years. In those years the current king, Saul, tried to kill him. David ran for his life and hid in caves. There was delay between what God had said he was going to do in his life and when it actually happened. But David refused to grasp for power. He refused to push his will up the ladder, to force his way up to the top. He said, God’s in control. He waited on God’s timing. He was a humble man.


Those people who grasp the most for power are those who are least qualified to use it. They are usually the least qualified to handle the spotlight. They don’t have the character. They are overexposed and under-developed. David said, I’m going to trust in God.


How do you handle success? When things are going well, do you tend to pray less? When everything is fine and wonderful, do you let the spiritual discipline slide? You get away from God. You start thinking life is pretty good, you’ve done it on your own. How do you handle it? When you get that promotion, do you have a haughty heart or a humble heart?


These four qualities are the very qualities that most people overlook when they are looking for a great person. They don’t look for humility, a servant heart, a repentant heart. But these are the exact same qualities that God looks for when He says, “That’s a great person! That’s a person after My own heart!” God is still looking for people with great hearts.


2 Chron. 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him so He can show His great power in helping them.” God is looking for people to use. He is looking for people to bless. He’s doing a heart search and when He finds somebody with the right heart, He blesses them.


If God did an X-ray on your heart what would it reveal? a repentant heart? or “It wasn’t really my fault… it was somebody else’s fault… It’s not that bad… Everybody is doing it!” or “No, God, it was wrong. I’m sorry and I’m changing it!” A repentant heart.


Would it reveal a trusting heart or an anxious heart? God, I’m trusting You in the situation. I don’t know where the money is coming from but I’m going to trust You in the situation. I don’t know but I’m going to trust You.


When it comes to service, would it reveal a servants heart or “Let somebody else do it… I don’t have time to help… I’m too busy.” “Lord, help me to not be too preoccupied with things that are worthless, that don’t matter. Help me to make my life count.”


When things are going great do you say, “Lord, it’s all from You and I’m grateful and I’m humbled by it.”


God is looking for people to use. We’ve all got talent, ability, know how. We’ve got all these things and God can use them. We could be a modern day Paul, a modern day David.”


God didn’t just called you to be a mediocre Christian. God doesn’t want you to just be average. God is looking for people to use, He’s looking for people to bless, people who will be great for God. It all starts with a commitment that says, “God, I’m not perfect but more than anything else, I want to have a heart after You. My desire — before financial independence, before popularity, before my our ambitions, before anything else — is to have a heart for You.” That’s the kind of person God uses.


Acts 16:36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his generation, he died.” It’s so simple. David served God’s purpose in his generation and then he died. I don’t know a better epitaph. He served God’s purpose, the eternal. He did it in his generation, the timely. He served the Timeless in a timely way. He did the eternal in a contemporary setting. He served God’s purpose in his generation and then when he was finished, he died, went on to be with the Lord, in heaven. When you die, is that your deepest desire, to be able to say, “I served God’s purpose in my generation and then I died.”


What is keeping you from really becoming a great man of God? A great woman of God?

=> Is it guilt? The antidote is a repentant heart.

=> Is it stress? God says, “Trust me. I’m going to take care of your needs. I’m the master, you’re the servant.

=> Is it service? “Let somebody else do it! I’m too busy having my own fun, doing my own thing, being my own god, running my own pleasure trip through life.” It’s not helping anybody. Are you bored? Give your life away in service.

=> Is everything going well in your life? Good. Be grateful and be humble.


We can look at these four characteristics and say, “I fail on all counts – this is hopeless!” We can be come despondent and want to throw in the towel. BUT none of us has arrived! None is perfect – David wasn’t! BUT he wanted to be – Do you?


It starts with a commitment. “God, I’m not perfect but more than anything else, I want to be a person after Your own heart.” That opens the gates to greatness in your life.


Thank You, Father, for Your word. May we have hearts like David for Jesus’ sake. Amen.




I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”


(God) “David is a man after My own heart Acts 13:22




  1. First test: sin.

David’s response: A Repentant Heart


    “O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stain of my sins. Wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again. For I admit my shameful deed . . . ” Psalm 51:1-3 (LB)


    “God will not reject .. a repentant heart.” Psalm 51:17 (GN)


  1. Second test: Stress.
David’s response: A Trusting Heart


    “In my distress I prayed to the Lord and He answered me and rescued me. He is for me! How can I be afraid?” Psalm 118:5-6 (LB)


    “My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength: He is all I ever need.” Psalm 73:26 (GN)


       “I kept on believing, even when I said, `I am completely crushed’. . .” Psalm 116:10 (GN)


  1. Third test: Service.
David’s response: A Servant’s Heart


       “With all my heart I try to serve You” Psalm. 119:10 (GN)


“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” Psalm 119:38 (GN)


“I will not offer to the Lord sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24 (GN)


  1. Fourth test: Success.

David’s response: A Humble Heart


    “In everything David did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14


    “To You alone, O Lord, to You alone, and not unto us must glory be given.” Psalm 115:1 (GN)


    “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another.” Psalm 75:6 (LB)


“For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him, so He can show His great power in helping them!” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (LB)


How to make your life count – Moses


Hebrews 11:23-27

(Notes extracted from Rick Warren)

Today we’re going to look at Moses who is one of the greatest people in the Old Testament. He got the Ten Commandments from God. He led the Israelites out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt. He wrote the first five books of the Bible. He was used in a great number of different miracles. An amazing man!


Why did God choose Moses? Well first God chose Moses! TRUE!

But also Moses chose to obey God. Moses made a number of very important choices. He settled some key questions in his life that every one of us has to eventually deal with.


  1. The issue of identity. Who am I?
  2. The issue of responsibility. What am I going to do with my life?
  3. The issue of priority. What is really the most important thing in life?
  4. The issue of difficulty. How much am I willing to commit to what I’m going to give my life for?


These are issues that every one of us has to deal with. Moses made the right choice in each instance. They were not easy choices – and I doubt whether they were snap decisions!


If I asked you, “Do you want to be successful? [I don’t meant necessarily famous] Do you want to make a difference in your world? “ Most of us would say yes!

As we now look back on Moses’ life and ask. “Was he successful?” The answer is a resounding ‘YES’.

The question is how and why?


  1. Discover what God made me to be.
  2. Accept responsibility for my own life.
  3. Establish a value system for my life.
  4. Never take my eyes off the goal. People who succeed are focused.




Moses was born a Hebrew slave but he was raised as Pharaoh’s grandson in Pharaoh’s palace, which was the most opulent place in the world at that time. Moses had an identity crisis. He had to decide: “Am I Jewish or am I Egyptian? Am I a slave or am I royalty?” The consequences of that decision would effect the rest of his life.

If he chooses to say, “I’m Pharaoh’s grandson” he has fame, fortune, a life of luxury, a promising career, heir to the throne.

If he chooses to say, “I’m Jewish of Jewish slaves,” he’ll be rejected. He’ll be despised. He’ll be thrown out, humiliated and he’ll live the life of a slave the rest of his life.


Moses refused to live a lie. He was a man of integrity, of character. He made his decision in v. 24, “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”

“refused”. It means to disown, reject, to leave no door open. It’s settled, done. Moses insisted on being what God made him to be and no amount of peer pressure could convince him.


God made you for a purpose.   He has a purpose for your life. He wants you to be you. If you don’t be you, who’s going to be you?


The first secret of success is be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not. I am not talking about doing your own thing and tramping all over others – Rather what the bible says, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould!!”

Stop trying to conform: to look like everybody else, drink like everybody else, talk like everybody else, buy the same thing everybody else has. Be yourself – not your sinful self BUT the kind of self that God intends you to be.   Discover what God made you to be.




  1. 25 “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”

“chose”. If you want to make an impact with your life, it’s your choice.

It is true that God chooses me and takes the initiative to draw me to himself. But I have choices to make too. I can draw near to God – pray to him as much as I like. I can read my Bible as much as I want to read it. It is my choice. God has given you the freedom of choice and the choices you make determine your future.


  1. 24 we have Moses refusing and in v.25 we have Moses choosing. He follows a negative action with a positive action.
  2. 23 God chose Moses as a baby but in v.25, Moses had to chose God. v. 24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up.”

“when he had grown up.” A mark of maturity is when you start accepting responsibility for your own life. When you stop blaming other people.

As a baby it was OK for Moses to live off of his parents’ faith. But when he had grown up he had to make that decision on his own. He had to go God’s way because he wanted to go God’s way.


Three facts of life:


  1. I cannot live off of other people’s spiritual commitment. You’ve heard people say, “My parents were Christians” or “My dad was a missionary” or “My husband/wife is a believer“. So what? You need a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Some of you are teenagers; it’s time to grow up! You need to stop living off the spiritual apron strings of your parents and get your own faith. When Moses grew up, he chose.


  1. I can’t blame others for the direction of my life. Society says the exact opposite. It says “It’s not your fault. You’re a product of your environment. Blame other people for your messed up life.” The way you spell BLAME is B-LAME — when you’re blaming you’re being lame. I cannot blame other people for the direction of my life. It’s my life. I can’t control all the circumstances but I can choose how I’ll respond.


  1. No one can ruin my life except me. And I’m free to choose my response. I am not trying to minimise the difficulties people face at the hands of others. We sometimes do suffer as a result of another’s sin. BUT how I respond to that is my choice! {Joseph suffering at the hands of his jealous brothers is a prime example!}




If you’re going to make your life count you need to settle the issue of what is really important. Clarify it in your life. Moses clarified his values and priorities.

  1. 26 “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

“regarded”. The word means to evaluate, to consider, to weigh in the balance, to judge. It’s not something you do quickly. You need to sit down and seriously consider What in the world am I living for?

What are you living for? If I were to ask you the five or ten values — the pillars — on which you’re building your life, would you be able to do it? Think it through. It says, Moses regarded what is important and what is not important. Most people have never done that and that’s why they’re failures at life. They don’t know why they are, they don’t know what they want to accomplish in life, and they don’t know what’s really important. You need to establish values in life, things that you will build your life on, the things that will be important to you. Write them down if necessary!

Why? The fact is if you don’t decide what is important in your life, others will do it for you. If you don’t decide what’s valuable for your life, what you’re going to base your life on, other people will. The world is more than happy to pressure you into its mould and to dump its value system on you. We have a lot of Christians today who know the Lord, but they’ve bought into the world’s value system. They’re living that system without even thinking about it rationally. They’ve automatically adopted it.


What is the world’s value system?

  1. Power and prestige. I want to be famous / noticed.
  2. Pleasure. I want to feel good. I want to be happy. I want to have fun.
  3. Possessions. I want to make a fortune. I want to be wealthy.


All temptation falls into one of these three categories. Sit down with your children and watch television and evaluate the advertisements. Almost every if not every advertisement in the world falls under one of these three categories. It’s either an ad to produce pleasure or power and prestige or an ad for possessions. Every single advertisement is based on the world’s value system to get you into one of these things.


What is ironic is that Moses, by the world’s standard, had it made. He had all three:


Power. He was heir to the throne of the most powerful country of the world at that time.

Pleasure. Every whim would be satisfied in the palace of Egypt. He was on easy street.

Possessions. The wealth of the world was concentrated in Egypt.


Moses had it all! Power. Pleasure. Possessions. He had it all but he walked away from it. Moses walked away from the very three things most people spend their lives trying to accomplish.


Why? Because he knew they don’t last. They won’t last fifty years from now much less for eternity.


Moses said “Yes” to God. You must realize that when you say “Yes” to God it means you say “No” to certain other things. It’s easier to say ‘Yes’ to God than it is to say ‘No’ to the other things.

We want Christ, plus all the things the world offers. I’ll just tack Him on and have a little time for God on Sunday morning. But I’m buying into the system. Jesus said, “you can’t serve two masters”. The problem with a lot of Christians today is they’re afraid to say ‘No’ to the world’s value system. What we lose when we don’t say ‘No’ is our happiness because compromise only makes us miserable when we try to live for the Lord and live for the world at the same time. It can’t be done. It makes us miserable.


We need to learn to say ‘No’. And you need to learn to say with conviction, “I’m not going to be sucked up into this world’s system, the rat race, the hollow lifestyle that says life consists of pleasure, passions, possessions and prestige. It doesn’t last. I’m not going to buy into that. While everybody around me is going to buy into it I’m not going to buy into that!” That’s the kind of person Moses was and that’s why he made an impact with his life. He went against the flow.


What was Moses’ value system?


  1. He discovered that God’s purpose is more valuable than popularity.

God has a plan for my life. I’m going to lead these people to freedom. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He said, I’m going to give up the prestige, the power, the popularity because it does not last.


ILLUS.: I had a great years at High School – I was not the greatest student because I enjoyed my sport [probably too much] In my final year I was a prefect, Captain of the Athletic team and a member of the First Rugby XV. Everyone in the school knew who I was. When I went back a couple of years after leaving school nobody knew me.


One minute you’re the hero and the next minute you’re a zero. People couldn’t care less. Pride and prestige is fleeting. This year’s superstars are next year’s has-beens. You can’t live for the fame of other people. It’s fleeting. It doesn’t last. Moses said, I’d rather do God’s purpose and do what He’s told me to do than be in this place of power and prestige. He wasn’t impressed by popularity.


  1. People are more valuable than pleasures.
  2. 25 “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God [they were in slavery at the time] rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”

I like this verse. The Bible always tells the truth. The Bible never lies or sugar-coats. It says there is pleasure in sin. The Bible says sin is fun. Of course it’s fun; if it weren’t nobody would do it! But it’s for a season, a short time. It doesn’t last. He could have temporary pleasure being the next Pharaoh of Egypt or he could go do what God had called him to do and help the people who were in pain, who needed to be set free. He could have stayed there in pleasure and today no one would even have known Moses’ name. He’d be some mummy in some tomb in Egypt. Nobody would even know who he is. But he chose the right thing. Any whim would have been satisfied there but in order to do the right thing he chose discomfort over pleasure.


That’s an unheard of value in the 1990’s. Choosing discomfort over pleasure because it’s the right thing to do? How foreign to our society! He did the right thing. Why? For the sake of people. The problem with many of us is we want to serve God but we only want to serve Him when it’s convenient.

I don’t want to go to pray meeting tonight – I’ll miss my favourite Soap / football match – it isn’t convenient”. That’s a minor inconvenience compared to the fact that in many countries you could be arrested for going to church, put in jail, lose your job. We have such a convenient Christianity. It’s so easy! Moses said people are more valuable than pleasures.


  1. God’s peace is more valuable than possessions.
  2. 26 “He regarded the disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.” In v. 24, he rejects the world’s measure of success.

In v. 25, he rejects the world’s pleasure.

In v. 26, he rejects the world’s treasure.

He does what is right because God’s peace is more important than possessions. He could have stayed in the palace of Egypt and had every possession he ever wanted — wine, women, song. He knew that no possession could give you inner peace. He would have been miserable not doing what God wanted him to do. Peace comes not from the things you own; peace comes from being in the centre of God’s will, being what God made you to be, doing what God made you to do. That’s where peace comes.


Many people think you can purchase happiness. “If I just get this for Christmas I’ll be happy! If I could just afford a bigger house / car….” A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. My value has absolutely nothing to do with the kind of car I drive. My self worth and my net worth are two different things.


What do you value? What matters most? The issue is that God’s peace is more important than possessions. That’s what counts. It’s amazing to me that Moses gave up the very three things we spend our lives trying to get: pleasure, possessions and prestige. What motivated this guy? What made him do that and live that way?


  1. 26 “Because he was looking ahead to his rewards.” He had perspective. What motivates you to reject the world’s value system and accept God’s value system for your life? It’s your perspective. It’s all in what you’re looking at. Are you looking at the here and now or the eternity. Most people live for the here and now, totally unaware of the fact that they’re going to spend more time on that side of eternity than the 60, 70, 80 years they live on this earth. That’s not wise.


Your values are determined by your vision. Whatever you’re looking at is what becomes most important in your life. What are you focusing on?

We can focus on the things of this world and doff our caps at God – we end up with a distorted view of God and this world. OR we can focus on God and worship / obey him and as a result we will have a correct perspective on this life!!

What are you looking at? What is the most important thing to you? Things that are going to last? Or things that won’t last even ten years much less for eternity?

Moses was a man of vision. He had eyes of faith.




  1. 27 “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”


“persevered”. He refused to give up no matter what happened — impossible situations, critics, whatever. We are not talking about being stubborn – some people can endure all sorts of criticism but are simply being stubborn and pigheaded – we are talking about perseverance of God’s vision.

Moses spent most of his life waiting. From the time that God gave Moses the vision, the dream of setting free an entire nation after 400 years of slavery to the time it was fulfilled and they were ready to go into the Promised Land was 80 years. Could you wait that long and not give up? If God tells you something and it doesn’t happen until 80 years later? He spent 40 years in Midian just waiting for God to say “Start!” Do you ever get tired of waiting on God? Do delays ever tempt you to give up? Have you learned the difference between “No” and “Not yet”? Have you learned that God’s delays are not God’s denials. One of the tests of faith is “How long can you wait?” You must keep your eye on the vision, the goal, on what counts in life so you don’t get discouraged.


That’s the key to endurance and perspective.


Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”

let us run with perseverance” and “let us fix our eyes on Jesus” — those two go together. When you fix your eyes on Jesus you’re going to run with perseverance. What have you got your eyes on?


What are you living for? Who are you living for? Yourself?

Somebody said, “the self made man worships his maker”. If you’re living for yourself that’s a pretty small god. What are you going to do with the rest of your days on this earth? Whether you have 150 days or 150 years or just till next Sunday? I don’t know and you don’t either. None of us know how many days we’ve got left. What are you going to do? It’s very important because what you do with those days on earth and how you spend them are going to profoundly influence where you spend eternity and how you spend eternity. This is a testing ground, a proving time. God is watching. Why sell out millions and millions of years for a few things here and now in the world’s value system that isn’t going to last!



How many of these issues have you settled in your life?

The issue of identity? Who you are. So you don’t have to keep trying to dress and act and be like everybody else in order to be acceptable.


The issue of responsibility? Have you said, “I’m not going to blame anybody else for where I am or who I am?” You are just as spiritual as you want to be. You can’t blame anybody else. You’re as committed as you want to be.


The issue of priority — what really matters in life? What counts?


The issue of difficulty — what you’re going to put into it and keep your eyes on the reward, on the value.


The most important issue is your relationship to God. If you haven’t ever established that relationship to God, do it today. Say, “God you made me for a purpose and I want to start living in that purpose today to the best of my knowledge. I want to go Your way and accept Your values, not the world’s values.” It will cost you. It costs to be a Christian. It’s free for us but it cost Jesus. It cost Him His life and it will cost you, yours. When you become a Christian you give up everything you’ve got… and then you never had it so good! You cannot out give God. All of a sudden you’ll say, “This is why I was made. This is why I’m here.” This is what counts… not stereos and CD’s. These are the values that are going to last.





Hebrews 11:23-27


Moses settled 4 key issues:


   *Identity: Who am I? v. 24

   *Responsibility: What will I do with my life? v. 25

   *Priority: What is really most important? v. 26

   *Difficulty: How much am I willing to commit? v. 27







  1. Discover what God made me to be.


   By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. v.24





  1. Accept responsibility for my life.


He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. v.25


     Three facts:


* I can’t live off others’ spiritual commitment


* I can’t blame others for the direction of my life


* No one can ruin my life except me





  1. Establish a value system for my life.


    He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.   v.26


     The World’s Value System:


            *     Power/Prestige v.24

            *     Pleasure v.25

            *     Possessions v.26


     Moses’ Value System:


* God’s purpose is more valuable than

   popularity. v.24


* People are more valuable than

   pleasures. v.25


* God’s peace is more valuable than

possessions. v.26



  1. Never take my eyes off the goal.


   By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible. v.27


Bless you!

Bless you!

The beatitudes are one of the best-known sections of scripture and they encapsulate Jesus teaching in a few short statements. They form part of the Sermon on the Mount and set the tone for the rest of Jesus ministry.


1Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled,

We are only looking at the first four beatitudes here and these describe the Christian’s relationship to God. The second four describe a Christian’s relationship and duties to his fellow man. There are three main things we will cover this morning and I hope that as we look at these beatitudes we can see how these are woven into them.

  • What it means to be blessed and how the beatitudes completely turn our human perspective and priorities of life upside down.
  • How Jesus demonstrated each of these beatitudes through his life, ministry, death and resurrection, and the huge implications this has for our understanding of God ‘s salvation plan and the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • How these simple, yet profound statements, when taken as more than simply good and moral principles, are radical, counter-cultural and life-changing.


What is blessing?

We use the word all the time and it is part of our Christian vocabulary, but do we every think about what is really means?

When we pray we often say “Lord, please bless ____ as they step into the next phase of life / Lord bless our time together / Lord Bless our church”

We can also use it in conversation to talk about what God is doing in our lives

“ feel so blessed to have found this new job/house/friendship/spiritual gift/talent”

What are we referring to when we use the word? Do we have a good understanding of what we are saying, or is it just a nice Christian thing to say?



….happiness – The Greek word used here is “makarios” which is translated “happy”. However, our English word happy doesn’t convey the true meaning behind the beatitudes and the best match is blessed. It is misleading to read the beatitudes as “happy are those…” because happiness is a changeable emotion.

John Stott says “it is seriously misleading to render makarios “happy”. For happiness is a subjective state, whereas Jesus is making an objective judgement about these people. He is declaring not what they may feel like, but what God thinks of them and what on that account they are: they are blessed”

….health, wealth and prosperity

Blessing is not, as the prosperity Gospel preaches, a comfortable life where everything goes well for you. There is a real danger that we can get led into thinking and believing that if we are not rich and successful then we are not blessed.

Conversely we can also believe that if we are free from pain and suffering then we are blessed.

THIS IS WRONG!!! The bible very clearly says that if you choose to be a disciple for Christ you will suffer -it is not a path to financial comfort and material gain!

1 Timothy 6:6-9 “ But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”

There is nothing wrong with being healthy, wealthy or successful, and God does give us these things to enjoy and to use – but these things are not a measure of how blessed we are. If anything they can be a burden to us.

For example – When I buy my children presents it is because I love them and want to demonstrate my love and see the joy on their faces. But the real blessing is the gift of my love and the relationship I am building with them. They wouldn’t be any less “blessed” if I didn’t give them presents, they’d just have fewer toys! The important thing is my love for them, because that will outlast any gift I can give.

We can create a culture of “blessing” where our money, possessions, circumstances can be seen as a “reward” from God for good behaviour. The beatitudes refute any notion that blessing comes in the form of material gain. In fact, as we shall see when we look at them in more detail, they give us a very clear idea of what blessing entails.



…to be in right relationship with God or as John Stott puts it “to have the approval of God and to find fulfilment as a human being”. It is God moving to restore new life and forgiveness that comes through faith in Christ. It is the glimpse of the Kingdom of God, coming now in part and one day coming in full, when all will be restored. Material blessings are temporary, but spiritual blessings are eternal.

Lets look more closely at the individual beatitudes and we’ll discover more about God’s blessing.

The beatitudes outline Jesus’ specification for the Christian disciple. There is no option of leaving a few out because we don’t like them. You cannot choose to only be merciful, or meek, or a peacemaker and it is our responsibility to seek them all.

They do not describe what we are to do, but who we are -our character. They are not pre-requisites to enter the kingdom of God, unlike applying for a job where you have to meet a certain skill set or have certain qualities to be accepted, because we are accepted by the grace of God despite our failings.


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This is the first beatitude and the one that underpins all the rest. It is the starting point to having a relationship with God. To be poor in spirit is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty and that there is nothing we can do to find our own salvation.

It is very difficult to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I have seen this countless times through my work. I have encountered people who are is desperate and dangerous situations due to domestic violence, but will not accept help because they think that they can handle the situation on their own. I have dealt with people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, but will not acknowledge that they have a problem and need support and guidance. Only when people see their lives for what they are and their hearts are softened will they accept help.

To be poor in spirit is the opposite of pride that says “I’m ok and I can do it myself”. It is only when we admit that we can’t do it by ourselves and come to God open handed and open hearted, that he can fill us with his spirit and bless us.

When we first come to know Jesus and accept his salvation it is because we recognise the need we have to be rescued from our own sinfulness. But it doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there. It should be a continual process of humbling ourselves and surrendering our pride and selfish desires because it is very easy to revert to our default setting of doing it our own way. It is important to remember that this is not done in our own strength. Only though prayer and repentance through the work of the Holy Spirit can we be changed.

The prevailing attitude of the world towards those who have low self esteem is “Don’t put yourself down. You are somebody. You need to believe in yourself. Have confidence in you own abilities and you can achieve anything”

This may seem like good advice on the face of it, but it is not God’s way. When Moses was paralysed by fear at facing pharaoh God said to him “don’t look at your own abilities, look to me and I will help you”. The biblical answer to low-self esteem is not a boost of self-esteem, it is sovereign grace!

Right through the Bible God uses people who acknowledge their spiritual poverty and acknowledge their unworthiness and spiritual inadequacy – Moses, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Ruth, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul… the list goes on!

This verse has nothing to do with being physically poor. You can be a millionaire or a homeless and living rough, and still be poor in spirit. It is an attitude of the heart. Some have tried to suggest that Jesus was saying “blessed in spirit are the poor” but nowhere in scripture does it suggest that poverty is a good thing.

It is often in our times of greatest suffering and hardship that we find God. Sometimes God uses our difficult circumstances to bring us to a place of total dependence on him. It is not pleasant to have painful experiences and endure pain and suffering, but when we look back on these times they are often the most significant times of spiritual growth because it is only when we are emptied of ourselves that we can make space for God. As long as we are self-sufficient and self-reliant it will be very difficult rely on God.

John Piper says – “you may be going through things right now that are painfully preparing you for some precious service for Jesus and his people. When a person strikes rock bottom with a sense of nothingness or helplessness, he may find that he has struck the Rock of Ages”

Jesus came to bring good news to the poor and he spent most of his time with those who acknowledged their spiritual poverty and need for salvation. Tax collectors, fisherman, lepers, prostitutes and criminals.

Jesus himself knew what it was to be poor in spirit. Not long before he preached this message, he spent forty days in the wilderness and was tested and tempted by Satan. At the end of his ministry he went to the cross and endured a horrible death to allow us access into the kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says “For you know that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich yet for your sake became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich”

The blessing that comes to those who are poor in spirit is the knowledge that we are saved from death and can be members of the Kingdom of Heaven. We don’t deserve this – it is a gift, but in order receive it, we need to let go of what we are currently holding on to.

You may ask “ok, but what is so great about having the kingdom of heaven?”

We only have a glimpse of the benefits of kingdom now, but one day we will fully experience them. God didn’t intend for the world to be in the state it is in. He created a perfect world free from suffering, pain, disease and oppression. Our human pride and selfishness fractured the relationship we had with him at creation and through Jesus he as brought about restoration.

We can now look forward to a time when everything will be made new, when we will have no more sickness and death, no more suffering and injustice. One day God will make a new heaven and earth and we will live once again in perfect harmony with him and each other. I’d say that sounds like a pretty good blessing!

It’s not just a future blessing though. God promises that when we come to him for help he will be with us here and now. He will sustain us and give us everything we need. He will be with us through every situation and carry us through the rough and the smooth.


Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

The beatitudes reveal a spiritual progression and they all link together. Having realised our spiritual poverty and come to God in a state of dependence, we move to a position of sorrow and mourning over the sin of the world and the terrible consequences of turning away from God.

When we think of the word mourning, we automatically think of death and bereavement. When we lose a loved one we mourn for them because they are gone from this world and we miss them. We feel sorrow because we can’t share our lives with them and we miss them being around. We linger on thoughts of what could have been if they were still here with us.

This is exactly the mourning that Jesus is referring to, but it’s much broader than having sadness for those who have died. Jesus wept over the sin of the world and the bitter consequences of judgement and death. (Luke 19:41)

Jesus himself knew sorrow and the pain of mourning. When his friend Lazarus died he wept bitterly. He wept in the garden of Gethsemane because of his impending death and separation from the father. He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3)

Part of the process of being a disciple is mourning the loss of our innocence and righteousness. Having sorrow over the state of our lives when we stray from the life that God intends us to have. I think sometimes we make a big deal of God’s grace to cover over our sins – which is right – but we take that too lightly and forget the gravity of our sins. When we see our sin for what it is, compared to the glory and majesty of God, it should bring us to our knees in prayer and humility before God.

We can fall into the mindset sometimes that as Christians we should always be happy and joyful and be skipping about with a grin on our faces. There are times when we do, and this is brilliant -we should be filled with joy. However, it is also ok to lament and be moved to tears and be upset.

We will continue to experience sorrow and mourning until the Kingdom of God is made complete. It is good to feel “divine discontent”, because it shows that we are engaged with the world but we know that it is not as it should be. This should move us to pray and seek God for his will and his intervention where we see the needs around us.

It is not just our own sin that we should mourn over. When we look at the world the world around us, we should be moved to weep over those who are lost and hurting.

Jesus says that those who mourn will be blessed with comfort, but how does this comfort make a difference to us?

We are comforted by holding to the hope that there is more to life than we experience here and now. It is always easier to bear suffering if there is an end in sight. We know that God’s kingdom is breaking though here and now, and we experience God in our everyday lives through his spirit. Lives are being changed everyday by the power of Jesus. People are being healed, relationships restored, relief brought to desperate situations.

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”

The blessing we receive is also a blessing we can pass on. Time of trouble and hardship are not necessarily a blessing in themselves, we can give and receive blessing through them.

We can see this everywhere we look. Churches are meeting the needs of this country in a way that the government and other institutions cannot. In this time of austerity Christians are stepping up to support those in need, driven by their compassion for those who are in poverty. Soup kitchens, food banks, financial support, counselling are all in full swing up and down the country. This is the gospel in action.

Beyond our borders there are also countless Christians working tirelessly to bring hope and comfort to those affected by poverty, natural disasters and oppression. They are living out the gospel in the way that Jesus demonstrated.

In serving others we invariably find comfort for our own struggles and fulfill the deep desire that should be in every disciple to serve others and spread the Kingdom of God.


Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

This is possibly the most misunderstood beatitude. Meekness in our society is seen as weakness and lack of confidence. To many this would probably sum up Christians quite well -shy and submissive church mice, who are afraid of their own shadow and can be walked all over. Many also think of Jesus as “meek and mild” -a helpless baby, or a slightly effeminate, long-haired bloke that wore a long white dress!

On the surface it seems strange that Jesus would choose this character trait as something to be desired.

What is meekness?

Martin Lloyd-Jones describes it like this “meekness is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing an attitude and conduct with respect to oneself. The man who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as they do” 

It means that we are gentle, humble, sensitive, patient in all our dealings with others. That’s a massive challenge and we need constant help from God to transform us from our default selfishness into people that demonstrate these qualities. They are very similar to the fruits of the spirit and character traits that need to be developed and nurtured with self-control, discipline and staying close to God to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Meekness is our attitude towards ourselves in the light of the previous two beatitudes. Having acknowledged our spiritual poverty and mourned for our sinfulness we realize that we need to depend on God for everything and we come to him with humility.

We cannot rely on our own efforts for spiritual blessing and we don’t have to fight and trample over others to get ahead and succeed. The blessing promised here is also surprising -they will inherit the earth! You would expect the meek to get nowhere because everybody ignores them and they get walked over.

It is the opposite of the worldview that springs from secular thinking and evolutionary theory -it is not survival of the fittest! It is not the toughest, strongest, dominant who succeed. It is those who are meek who are blessed.

Meekness is not weakness! Meekness is confidence in Christ and all that he has achieved for us. Meekness is such a rich and beautiful thing it is difficult to fully explore it here, but I’ll give you a few aspects as an overview –


Meek people commit their way to God and trust him to sustain them through the obstacles and pressure of life.


  • Meek people have a steady calm that comes from knowing God
  • Meek people are unconcerned when the wicked prosper and seem to have the upper hand and do not give into anger and resentment
  • Meek people do not seek anger and revenge and leave judgement and vindication in God’s hands.
  • Meek people are slow to speak and quick to listen
  • Meek people are teachable and discerning
  • Meek people do not lack passion and conviction, but are able to remain calm and stand up for truth in the face of adversity.

Do you recognise these traits? They are the very things that Jesus demonstrated whilst on earth!

Meekness goes against the grain because it leaves us open and vulnerable, and instead of fighting our own corner, we have to rely on God to vindicate and defend us.

I see it like this -we have been promised an eternal inheritance and everything that the father has is ours. There is nothing the world can offer us and nothing that man can achieve that is greater than what God has already promised us. We need to have confidence in this and what God thinks of us, not what the world thinks of us.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled

This is the last beatitude we will look at this morning. So far we have seen how being poor in spirit leads us to mourn for our sin and the state of the world, which in turn creates in us an attitude of meekness. Theses three things lead us to have a hunger and thirst for righteousness. We should have a spiritual appetite for change in the world and put these things into practice.

This appetite is only possible if we are hungry, and we can only be hungry if we are not filled with other things. If our lives are too full and busy with our own efforts to succeed and if we are filling our time and using our energy to work out our own righteousness, we will have no appetite for what Christ has to offer.

This short story illustrates the point well:

There was once a man lost in a desert. He was dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old, weather-beaten shack. Sat down in the shade of the shack to get away from the heat of the desert sun. About 15 feet away there was a rusty, old water pump. He dragged himself over to it and began to pump up and down, up and down. Nothing! Bone dry!

Disappointed he sank to the ground. As he glanced around he noticed an old jug in a corner with a message written on the old label. ”You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug, my friend. P. S.: Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave.”

He unscrewed the cap and sure enough there was a jug full of water. Now he was faced with a decision. He could drink the water and survive awhile; OR he could pour all the water into the rusty old pump, and maybe it would yield fresh, cool water from the deep well. He could have all the water he wanted.

What should he do? There was no telling how long ago those instructions were written.

Nervously he picked up the jug and walked over to the well and poured all the water into the pump. Then he grabbed the handle of the pump and began to pump as fast as he could. . . squeak, squeak, squeak the old leather valves sounded like they were tearing apart. Then a little bit of water began to dribble out, then a little more water, and finally it gushed forth. Clean, clear, cold, fresh water poured out the rust old pump. He drank and almost drowned himself in the beautiful, clear water.

Then he filled the jug for the next weary traveller. Before setting the jug down he added this note: ”Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back.”

Jesus promises to give us the water of life that satisfies, but we need to surrender to him first and give up our own agenda and rights before he can fill us. He promises to fill us to overflowing with his living water

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 he says to her “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”



How does this work out in our lives?

Jesus top priority for us is that we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Everything else will follow! It is not a legalistic piety that leads to righteousness. It is being filled with the Holy Spirit and being transformed so that we are becoming more Christ-like.

We are called to bear witness to God’s righteousness is every area of our lives. In practice that means having integrity with our finances and tax returns, standing up for Justice and equality in the workplace, honouring our husbands and wives, teaching our children how to live according to God’s word, helping the poor and needy -whether that be on our doorstep or the other side of the world.

Just like with the other spiritual characteristics, they are perpetual and part of an ongoing process. Just like eating food, we will be temporarily satisfied by eating breakfast, but we still need lunch and dinner. We will only be truly satisfied when we reach heaven because. For now we live in an imperfect world and that should move us to hunger and thirst for justice and mercy, which are integral to righteousness.

Philip Greenslade says – “Disciples are those who long for God to be all in all, who pray for God’s heavenly will to be done on earth’s stage, who are learning to want what God wants and to feel what God feels. Followers of Jesus are those whose deepest hunger and thirst can never be satisfied by anything less than God’s Kingdom because they have read the menu, tasted the hors d’oeuvres and now long for the final feast.”



The Beatitudes are paradoxical and counter-cultural. They completely turn the world’s priorities upside down, where the poor, sorrowful, meek and hungry are blessed. They preach a message of the first being last, and the last being first.

They encapsulate Jesus teaching and ministry and in a few short sentences sum up what it is to be a disciple of a God who has abundant blessing in store for those who recognise that they are in desperate need of salvation and restoration.

They are not intended to beat us over the head and set an impossible spiritual standard that we can never achieve. They describe the life that we are called to live so that we participate in the Kingdom of God and reap the reward that God has in store. Jesus describes radical discipleship, but it needs to be radical because the alternative is death and separation from God forever!

Like the man that found treasure buried in a field and sold everything he had to buy the field, it takes sacrifice and the cost is high, but there is no greater way to live and no greater inheritance to be gained!

We only see a fraction of the blessing now and although at times it may be painful to follow this teaching, one day we will see the blessing in full.

The beatitudes show is that blessing doesn’t come in the form of living standards, wealth or prosperity. True blessing is knowing a God who gives hope to the hopeless; who loves the unlovable; who comforts those who mourn, who feeds those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, no matter what the cost.

God blesses us by enabling us not only to experience this through our heavenly father, but he also imparts these qualities in us so that we may bless others. Our response to this should always be “Lord, change me to be more like you and use me to bless others as I have been blessed that your kingdom may come on earth as in heaven”

Jesus wants you to come to him just as you are so that he can bless you with a deeper relationship with him and the promise of being a member of his heavenly kingdom.

There are stages of our spiritual journey described in the beatitudes and wherever we find ourselves on this journey this morning, there is both challenge and encouragement that we can take.


  • You may feel spiritually poor and empty – This is a good starting place! Come before God and acknowledge your poverty and spiritual dependance. He will show you the Kingdom of Heaven and give you the blessing that comes from a hope of a certain future
  • You may be filled with sorrow and mourning, either for state of your own heart or in the life or others – Bring your brokenness to Jesus and he will comfort you, and enable you to comfort others. No matter how low your opinion is of yourself, he will welcome you with open arms.
  • Maybe you are struggling with being meek – Perhaps you feel weak or have realised that you have been fighting your own battles and need to give them to God. Allow God to develop in you an attitude of meekness and give you confidence. He will give you the inheritance he has promised.
  • You may find yourself thirsty and hungry righteousness but your life is too full of other things that crowd Jesus out. Come to Jesus with open hearts and hands and he will fill you to overflowing with his living water.



God’s Flight School – Deuteronomy 32:11

God’s Flight School
Deuteronomy 32:11
By Dave Redick*


During the winter of 1940 Josephine Kuntz’ husband, a house painter and textile worker, was temporarily unemployed because of the weather and a seasonal lay-off. It was a difficult time for the family. They literally had no money. Their eighteen month old daughter, Rachel, was recovering from pneumonia and wasn’t doing well. The doctor insisted Rachel eat a boiled egg each day, but even that was beyond their means.

“Why not pray for an egg?” suggested a young friend. They were a church-going family, but the idea of actually praying for their needs was something they had never really considered. Josephine wasted no time. On her knees she prayed that God would provide an egg each morning for her daughter.

Later that morning Josephine heard some cackling coming from the hedge fence in front of their home. Among the bare branches sat a fat red hen. (This is a true story.) She had never seen this hen before and had no idea where it came from. She just watched in amazement as the hen laid an egg and then proceeded down the road. In a moment the hen was gone but an egg sat in her yard.

What do you do under such circumstances but thank God? The next day Josephine was startled once again to hear cackling in the hedge. The red hen came by every day for over a week and repeated this routine. Each day little Rachel had a fresh boiled egg. The little girl got better, the weather improved, and Josephine’s husband went back to work. “The next morning I waited by the window and watched,” Josephine says, but the red hen did not return. [“The Little Red Hen.” Josephine M. Kuntz, SNOWFLAKES IN SEPTEMBER, (Nashville: Dimensions for Living, 1992), pp 29-30.]


God takes care of His people, and though we don’t always see it in such striking and noticeable ways, the Bible promises that He will take care of those who are His.

There is a beautifully graphic description of God’s care for Israel over in Deuteronomy 32. Tonight just meditate on one aspect>


READING: Deuteronomy 32:1-12


Tonight zero in on is verse 11 Let’s read it again. “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them, and carries them on His pinions.”

What a beautiful picture of how God deals with his people! A mother eagle training her young to fly. In the same way the eagle deals with her young, God dealt with Israel and deals with us today.

“God’s Flight School.”

There are about seven stages that a young eagle goes through when learning to fly. These stages are also evident in God’s “training” us to live the life of faith. That is the basis of the comparison. As I describe them to you, listen and see if you recognise any of them in your life.


  1. The Demonstration Stage


As the time draws near for a young eagle to begin flight training, the mother eagle will frequently push off from the perch where the nest is and hover above her young. In response, the eaglets begin to flap their wings wildly in imitation. It’s as natural and instinctive for them as breathing.


That is what verse 11 is referring to when it says the eagle “hovers” over its young. At this stage the eaglets don’t have enough feathers to fly, but they begin to develop their wing muscles. The key word here is demonstration. The eagle demonstrates flying for her young and they imitate her in response.


What a great picture to describe what God has done for us through Jesus! Jesus came to earth as Immanuel, “God with us”. He demonstrated the kind of faith and life we should be leading.

Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


God hasn’t left us to figure things out on our own. He has cared enough about us to give us a living demonstration. Remember when Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father”? Jesus was and is the perfect and indispensable demonstration of how we should live the life of faith.


  1. The Discomfort Stage


In verse 11, it says, Like an eagle that stirs up its nest…”

It’s one thing for those young eagles to flap their wings in the security of their down-filled home. It’s quite another for them to move to the edge, look over, and imagine launching out on nothing! Naturally, they don’t want to do it. So the adult eagle does something the young eagles won’t understand until later. She begins “stirring up” the nest! She actually begins to poke through the bottom and tear the nest apart. The young eagles are literally forced out.


What often happens to us at this stage of God’s teaching the faith-life is that we begin to be bothered about something. We recognise that something isn’t right. We begin to get a little worried, a little anxious. There is a growing uneasiness in us.. Like Job in Job 30:27, we might feel, My heart is troubled and restless…”


It can be about anything that is bothering us. A relationship. An unfulfilled dream. A stress in our lives. A fear. A weakness. An indulgence. We find ourselves thinking, “One of these days I’m going to have to start working on that.” The trouble is, like the eaglet is reluctant to get too close the edge of the nest, we, too, are reluctant to move out of our comfort zone and face whatever it is.

Is God stirring up our nest. Is he getting us ready for change. Is he ruffling our comfort zone.


Perhaps – our neglected finances. – a relationship he wants us to mend or maybe even one He wants us to break off. Is God telling you something?

The sad thing is that some of us live our entire lives clinging to the nest like terrified eagle chicks, afraid to do anything about our problem / challenges. We’d rather live with discomfort than risk flying. “At least the discomfort is predictable,” we think. “If I were to change, who knows what might happen?”

If we stalled at the discomfort stage, we might understand why God brings us to the next stage of our learning. It’s called


  1. The Danger Stage


Eventually, the mother eagle gets all the kids out of the nest. Have you ever seen a full-grown eagle still perched in the nest of its parents? No, because one way or the other, he gets booted out of the nest with nothing between he and the hard ground but air. He either learns to fly or falls to his death. Eagles weren’t meant to be nest-sitters. They were meant to fly! This danger stage isn’t mentioned directly in verse 11, but it is certainly implied.


What about us? God often allows a danger / crisis / event into our lives that moves the issue we’re ignoring off the back burner. He sends us a wake up call. The discomfort / pain gets so bad we can’t ignore it anymore.


ILLUS.: Suddenly we get fired or we have an accident or a serious illness. Perhaps a spouse threatens to walk out or a creditor starts foreclosure. Floods come. Or maybe just a small voice in our conscience!


Like the eagle’s nest, the bottom falls out from under our lives and we realise we’ve got to do something – fast!

It has probably happened to all of us. It happened to King David. In Psalm 119:67, it says, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word.” It took a crisis of affliction to show David the need to learn to keep God’s word.


Remember, God wants us to fly, not flutter in the nest. He wants us to grow up!




  1. The Decision Stage


The nature of danger or a crisis is that it forces us off the fence or, to use our analogy, out of the nest. We have to decide, “Am I going to move ahead or am I going to retreat? Am I going to face this or try to run away?

With the nest suddenly gone out from under him and the ground coming up fast, the young eagle has a choice to make. He realises, “I’ve gotta do something – Now!” So he chooses to fly or fall – to soar or smash on the rocks below – literally, to live or die.

God often forces us to that place, have you noticed? Especially if we are reluctant to grow or pay attention to the need to grow.

Are there decisions, maybe difficult ones, that you need to make?


The next stage is so close to the decision stage that I was tempted to put them both under the same heading, but there is a difference ..


  1. The Direction Change Stage


The young eagle, falling fast, has decided he must do something. What is it? He must change direction! He must start going up instead of down.


  • Sometimes we are going completely wrong and we need to turn around – its called repentance. Sometimes we are reluctant to change direction. Maybe because we haven’t really made a decision to change. Oh, we were sorry things were the way they were. We even cried some real tears over it.. But there is no direction change as a result.

Paul warned us in 2 Corinthians 7:10 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (NIV)

– two people side by side who are sorry about their sins. One had a sorrow that produced repentance – a change of direction. The other was just sorry. There was no repentance.

  • Sometimes – no sin – just God wants to change the direction we’re going, which if we ignore leads to sinful disobedience.

God is teaching us to fly – to live the faith life in a way that is pleasing to Him and brings us to maturity.


  1. The Doing Stage


The adult eagle can teach her young to fly but she cannot fly for them. They must do it. Flying takes effort on the part of each individual.

The Bible says in Galatians 6:5, Each one shall bear his own load…” In the realm of our learning to walk the Christian walk, we must put in effort. The very common “do nothing” religion around us is false. It is an aberration of the devil. It is a cheap substitute for the faith of the Bible.

Does this mean that we get to heaven on our own merits? Not at all! But God wants us to learn to fly.

God blesses while we obey

ILLUS.: Israel crossing the Red Sea? Moses said “Move forward!” The people obeyed. Then when the feet of the priests touched the water, it divided.


The eagle learns to fly by striving against the gravity that is pulling him down – in short, by flying / doing. Our faith grows strong with exercise!!


  1. The Deliverance Stage


This a beautifully reassuring stage: He spread His wings to catch them, He carries them on His pinions.”

I am told that the adult eagle will actually swoop down and catch her falling offspring on her back and carry them back up to the home perch. What a beautiful picture of what God does for us!


Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:11, “What persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me!”

Psalm 34:19, Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

2 Peter 2:9, The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation…”


You see, God doesn’t leave us to do it on our own. It’s just that we must be about the doing in order for the deliverance to come. The promise of deliverance is there. We must believe it and move ahead. We must be striving to fly even if we can’t do it perfectly yet.



God does want you to learn to fly.

He will put you through flight school

You can ignore / resist it, but it won’t stop the process

You can co-operate and learn to fly for Him!

Song on Tape “It’s time to fly” – Chris Christensen


God’s Flight School


Deuteronomy 32:11


  1. The Demonstration Stage


  1. The Discomfort Stage



  1. The Danger Stage



  1. The Decision Stage



  1. The Direction Change Stage


  1. The Doing Stage



  1. The Deliverance Stage

A Vision of God – Ezekiel 1:1-28



Ezekiel 1v1-28




Ever had the experience of well laid plans being scuttled by unforeseen events – working hard to achieve the goals you have set only to have circumstances to change and the rug is pulled out from under your feet. You have had great hopes and dreams for the days ahead but they have been overtaken by disillusionment – and your hopes and dreams are in ruins.


For some these disappointments may have been just that – disappointment, but not necessarily life-shattering events. For others it may have felt / or maybe still does feel that the world has crumbled around them.

Do you fit anywhere on this continuum? Maybe you one of those who has never had major disappointments or tragedies or shattered dreams – but life being what it is it is only a matter of time!!

Maybe you haven’t had personal troubles but you look at life in general or your own life in particular and you have become disillusioned and depressed.


If you fit into any of these categories = and if you don’t maybe you are super-human!! ?? – then this Message from Ezekiel is for you>




Recently I reached the grand age of 40!! Old to some / young to others! but a milestones – and often these milestones cause us to reflect and consider where we are and where we might have been if things were different. Where I am now is not where I envisaged I would be 20 years ago /or even 10 yrs ago!


Ez. had recently turned 30 -[at least that seems to be the case -v.1] – where he was is not where he had envisaged he would be. He was a political exile = living in a “refugee” camp outside Babylon. At age 20 had begun his 10 year period as a trainee priest – his father was a priest – half way through when he was 25 – 5 years short of his goal – the Babylonian armies had besieged and conquered Jerusalem (597 BC) – Jehoakim, king of Judah had rebelled against Babylon and the consequences were predictable.


In fact Jeremiah the prophet had warned of the impending judgement – but the people of Jerusalem thought they were safe because it was God’s city they told themselves – we are God’s chosen people

– BUT God’s judgement came on disobedient Jerusalem and the 25 years old Ezekiel found himself being charted off to Babylon as a political exile.

Tel-abib was an awful place – refugee camps usually are – He felt homesick, miserable, depressed and abandoned by God.


We see the mood of the exiles in Ps.137

Psalm 137:1-4

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,

3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy;        they said,          “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD

while in a foreign land? (NIV)


Ez. – the dream of a promising career in tatters – His beloved Jerusalem was in on the way down – This was supposed to be the centre of God dwelling and it was falling apart while Babylon, the centre of idolatry and sensual excess, was flourishing and beautiful. – It was bustling and prosperous, it boasted the magnificent hanging gardens, wonderful architecture, strong defences. BY comparison the City of God seemed weak, and run down and insignificant!


Is it any wonder the Ezek. was depressed? {But he was not forgotten ………….

Ezekiel 1:3 ……………… There the hand of the LORD was upon him. (NIV)



  1. THE STORM (v4-9)


To say that Ez. and his fellow Jews were depressed would be a gross understatement.

Tel-abib was built on ruins – that is what a Tell is – maybe a graphic illustration of their lives!!

Ez. sitting – looking out to the desert – a storm blew up – Dust storms were common – at first may have appeared like a threatening black cloud – then it dawned on Ez. that this was no ordinary storm. How this vision occurred we are not told BUT in the midst of the dark cloud Ez. saw light! — and around the cloud brightness ![a silver lining] [v.4]

While clouds may obscure the sun they can’t extinguish it – beyond the cloud the sun was at bright as it ever has been.

Maybe it began to dawn on Ez. that it takes more than personal, social or political crises to overcome God’s rule in his world!


Is it not true that often we behave as if the darkness has swallowed the light! The God has been overtaken by our circumstances.

The exiles needed a vision of God – we all do when our circumstances become all consuming. When society becomes obsessed with its own existence it is in deep trouble – when personal survival is our passion and personal comfort our life’s ambition then society is on the edge of disaster – when economics, politics and philosophies revolve around selfish desire — then what we need is a vision of God!


That is what the exiles needed!

Not only was there a silver lining – there was an intense burning in the middle of the cloud – a symbol of the holiness and purity of the God Ez. served. They had lost sight of the greatness and grandeur of God because of the circumstances they were going through – it is so easy for our circumstances to distort our view of who God is and what he is like>


This was a vision, not just about God, but about the servants of God — beginning with the threatening cloud God took Ez. through scenes of his angelic forces [the 4 living creature with their 4 wings and 4 faces], onto the great chariot of his mobility and then up to the throne of his transcendent glory.

ILLUS. Like a small boy seeing a giraffe for the first time – starting at ground level and going up and up until his neck is nearly breaking off –

SO Ez. tries to take in the whole incredible picture!!


Ez. was preoccupied with his problems – God begins with the darkness and then shows him that far from being far away and unconcerned he is he is in the middle of the cloud and intimately acquainted with the exiles situation!!


So often we want mountain top experiences of God – but it is often through the valley and the darkness that we come to see God and experience his intimacy –

WHAT are you going through today?? Is there a cloud threatening you? God is not far away – he is in the middle!!


Great difficulty in describing the vision – hence words = like = likeness = the appearance of = = he is struggling to describe the Divine/ spiritual in human language which is very limited!!



         (angelic servants)


These creatures came from the burning fire of the holy presence of the living God.

They have human characteristics showing the high place given to humanity in the creation. They have wings to speed in the service of God and hands to serve. They are on constant touch with each other and they move with lightening speed in obedience to the direction of the Spirit.

The 4 faces – man – lion – ox – eagle – [ the rabbis saw this as – man the greatest created being – lion greatest wild beast – ox greatest domestic beast – eagle greatest bird] – some categories missed out BUT message is that all creatures are made to be subject to God control and to display his glory!


Mention the Lessons we can learn from these creatures [Stuart Briscoe ….. p.16]

  • ‘they had the likeness of a man’ [v5]- reminder that of all creation HUMANITY is the one the Lord uses primarily for his purposes.
  • ‘their feet were straight feet’ – [v7] – the necessity for STABILITY in the work of the Lord.
  • ‘they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass’ [v7] – ref. to their PURITY.
  • ‘they had the hands of a man under their wings’ -[v8] – points out that the Lord work needs people with a sense of PRACTICALLY to go with their wings.
  • ‘their wings were stretched upward’ [v11] – a great sense of urgency and MOBILITY.
  • ‘two wings covered their bodies’ [v11] – demonstrating their HUMILITY.
  • ‘ they went everyone straight forward’ [v12] – a sense of purpose and commitment and the moved with INTEGRITY.
  • ‘wherever the Spirit would go they would go’ [v12 – a great statement of their AVAILABILITY.
  • ‘their appearance was like burning coals of fire’ [v13] – describes their INTENSITY.
  • ‘they sped back and forth like flashes of lightening’ [v14] – tremendous sense of their ACTIVITY.


Ez. needed to realise the while on earth nothing seemed to be happening – in the councils of heaven God is fully active and executing his purposes for His world.

God’s servants are not inactive – God has not relinquished his power or his concern for the world – despite what may appear God is still in charge —

it may at times seem to us that God is inactive upon the earth – but God is never remote – never detached – if on the surface we can’t see God at work we must not assume that he has ceased to care.




  1. THE WHEELS (v.15-21)


Wheels within wheels with rims of eyes –

Strange things –

ILLUS> recently – Andrew to Farnham – small space for parallel parking – squeezed in with one wheel on curb – wished for wheels to go sideways as well as forward!!

Ez.’s wheels were like that!!


They could move in any direction at anytime

Ezekiel 1:17 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. (NIV)

God could get anywhere he wants at anytime – if necessary simultaneously!!

It is called OMNIPRESENCE – God can be everywhere at once!


NB the size of these wheels

Ezekiel 1:16 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels …LIT. Height to them and Fear to them:

Ez. was overwhelmed by their sheer size and there incredible ability to move — at times touching the earth — at time lifting up like a helicopter with the power of a rocket. The power was awesome – OMNIPTENTENCE.



The rims of eyes [1v18] …

2 Chronicles 16:9 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

Nothing is hidden from God — he know our thoughts and desires. OMNISCIENCE.


Ez. had experienced the invading Babylonian army – their great chariots – the tanks of the ancient world as the role across the Middle Eastern deserts – Judah had been subdued – he had been carried off to Babylon – amazed by the size of the city – the grandeur, the affluence — Jerusalem which in his youth he thought was the centre of the Universe and the dwelling place of Jehovah seemed rather pathetic by comparison!!


Was God so great after all? Maybe his insular upbringing in Judah had misled him — hadn’t the gods of Babylon proved more than a match for the Lord??


The vision answers all Ez. doubts and fears – the hosts of the Lord are more than a match for the armies of Babylon – but the are spiritual and not fleshly and MUST be seen by faith..

The message is loud and clear – the throne of God is above the chariots and Israel’s God is fully mobile and fully able to cope with any and every situation!!!

Even the loss of the temple and Jerusalem could have no real effect upon such a God as Ez. saw. He was as much the God of the Jews in exile as he had been in Jerusalem — nothing could happen without his knowledge or permission!!


  1. THE THRONE (v25-28)


As his eyes reach the top of the Vision there is the throne in all its brilliance!!

Words fail him!!

Trying to describe what he sees – is like trying to play Beethoven 5th on a penny-whistle to someone who has never heard it!!! [Briscoe]


Then the Voice – at the sound of the voice from the throne the creatures stood and lowered their wings – the noise stopped – these angelic servants did not suffer from any illusion that their activity kept God on that throne and that if they stopped the throne would come crashing down – God depends on no-one!!


The one on the throne was “like a man” – we unlike Ez. have the benefit of the NT and know that the risen ascended Lord Jesus has taken his humanity to the very throne of God from where he rules the universe!


This is no weakling God — “He looked like Fire” [v27].. the brilliance and majesty of God — “surrounded by the light of a rainbow” [v28]. A reminder of the covenant with Noah – of grace in the midst of judgement – of love at the centre of holiness and concern in the midst of tragedy.



Could it be that our worship and service of God is dull and mundane because we haven’t seen the majesty and mystery and power of God??




Ez. had a fresh vision of God – intimately aquatinted with earthly events — permanently active on the earth — able to cope with any and every human crisis – wars come and go – there is economic collapse – there are personal tragedies and heartaches BUT God is still God – he is not an absentee Father!! — he cares and he is still in control.




The vision cause Ez. to fall on his face in wonder love and praise. This is precisely what modern man will not do – proud in their achievements, swept along by new discoveries and philosophies and economic success — this is the new Babylon where there is no room for God – We think we are masters of our own destiny!!


That is understandable in the World — but Christian too can be guilty of a very small view of God.

Ez. helps us to see God for who he is – the great, awesome, indescribable, holy God who knows you and me!


Ez. fell on his face when he saw the majesty of God – and anyone who is going to be used by God must begin there!!

The Church of the Living Dead – Revelation 3:1-6

The Church of the Living Dead
Revelation 3:1-6
A Sermon About Apathy
By Dave Redick*

“I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”


(Read Revelation 3:1-6)

According to Jesus, if we have ears, it is important for us to hear what the Spirit of God is saying in these verses. In them He tells John to write some things to the church at Sardis – a church of Christ that existed in that ancient city. Since most of us probably know very little about Sardis, I want to tell you her story. It is really a remarkable tale.

Seven hundred years before this letter was written Sardis had become one of the greatest cities of the world. Ruled over by the king of Lydia, it had magnificence and luxury and nearly unlimited wealth.

Sardis was also a great military power, which is really no wonder when you understand that it stood in the midst of a river plain on a plateau some fifteen hundred feet above the valley. The sides of the plateau were sheer cliffs. An enemy could be seen approaching for miles all around. The city was nearly impregnable. Looking at Sardis from a distance was like looking at a gigantic watchtower above the Hermus Valley.

Sardis grew until it could no longer fit on the plateau and the building spilled over into the valley below. Now it became a two-tiered city – upper and lower Sardis. A river that was said to contain gold bisected Lower Sardis. The greatest of the kings of Sardis lived at the time of the discovery of this gold. His name was Croesus.

Croesus and his people were extremely rich, but their wealth brought them down. As they settled more and more into lives of falsely secure luxury and splendor, they became soft and flabby. Their society was degenerate. Smug in their self-confidence, they thought their wealth would last forever.

In his haughtiness, Croesus recklessly declared war on Cyrus of Persia. In order to get to the armies of Cyrus, he had to cross the Halys River. He took counsel in one of the idol’s temples about the battle and was told, “If you cross the River Halys, you will destroy a great empire.” He never considered that the empire destroyed would be his own.

Croesus was routed when he crossed the River, but he was not worried. He simply had to retire to the citadel of Sardis, recoup, refit, and fight again. But Cyrus laid siege to the city. He waited fourteen days, then offered a special reward to anyone who could find an entry into Sardis.

One of soldiers in the army of Cyrus noticed that the composition of the rock on which Sardis stood had cracks and faults in it. One evening as he stood watching the wall above, he had seen a Sardian soldier drop his helmet off the edge. The soldier made his way down what appeared to be a crack below the wall, emerged outside, retrieved his helmet, and disappeared back inside. The watching warrior reasoned that there must be a crack large enough to let a man through the wall. The next night he led a party of Persian troops up through the fault in the rock. When they arrived they found it completely unguarded and the soldiers of the city asleep. Under the cover of darkness, he and his men opened the gates of the city and Sardis was sacked that night.

A city with a history like Sardis would certainly understand what the risen Christ was talking about when He said, “Wake up!”

That isn’t the end of Sardis’ story, though. The city disappeared from history under Persian rule for two centuries until it fell to Alexander the Great and became a Greek city. It has been said that any people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. History did repeat itself in the city of Sardis. After Alexander died, his generals fought each other to determine who would become the new ruler of Greece. One of the rivals, Antiochus, became the ruler of the area that included Sardis. At war with another of the rivals, he sought refuge in the city of Sardis. For a year he managed to defend the city, then one of the soldiers of Antiochus repeated the exploit of Cyrus. At night a band of soldiers crept up the steep cliffs and entered the city through a crack. There was no guard. The Sardians had forgotten the lesson. The city fell again that night because they were not watching.

In due time the Romans came. Sardis became a Roman town. In A.D. 17 it was hit by an earthquake and demolished. Tiberius the Emperor made Sardis tax-exempt for five years and donated money to rebuild the city. Sardis recovered the easy way.

By the time John wrote what Jesus told him to write to Sardis, the city was again wealthy and severely degenerate. Once again, the Sardians were soft. Twice the city had been lost because its inhabitants were too apathetic to keep watch. Once again an attitude of smug apathy prevailed. Within the city was a church, the church of Christ of Sardis. It too reflected the degeneracy of the time. It was lazy and apathetic. It too was not watching. It too was about to fall.

The sin of Sardis was apathy. Apathy is unconcern. It is disinterest, and carelessness, all wrapped up together. It can include negligence, indifference, and lethargy. It is spiritual numbness that can eventually become paralysis. It is the temperature lukewarm.

Apathy is a compound word: “a” meaning “without” and “pathy” meaning “feeling.” It means literally, “without feeling.” It has no passion and no opinion. Its bywords are:

“I don’t care”
“I don’t want to be bothered.”
“I don’t know and I don’t want to know.”

The members of the church of Christ in Sardis had a name and they were alive, Jesus said, but they were dead. “The Church of the Living Dead” we might call them. They were dead because they didn’t care. They had no passion anymore for the things of God. They were apathetic.

It’s dreadful, it seems to me, when a majority of an entire church doesn’t care anymore. It’s bad enough when it is just individuals. Jesus says here, “I have a few who have not soiled their garments.” Apparently that few included such a paltry number that apathy was the driving force in the church at Sardis.

Those who are apathetic all share one thing in common. Their lives develop cracks that become unguarded. Ultimately, if they do not wake from their stupor, they are entirely overthrown by the enemy.

Perhaps I speak to someone at this moment that is apathetic. Once you were on fire for the Lord – right up on the front lines where the real bullets were whizzing. Your faith was new and vibrant. You were diligent about even the details. You confessed your sins. You walked with God. You humbly depended upon Him day after day. You were no stranger to prayer. But now things are different. You cannot seem to get excited about God anymore. Worship is a dull experience. It is a chore to show up so sometimes you just don’t. Like the bumper sticker says, “I’d rather be skiing or fishing or sailing or golfing” – anywhere but in church on the Lord’s day.

Oh yeah, the Lord’s Day. It was His day for awhile in your life. Now though, you don’t call it by that name. Now it’s My Day Off. Notice how ownership of the day has shifted.

You haven’t had a meaningful talk with the Lord in months. In fact, deep down inside you are afraid to talk to Him because you know He sees right through your ruse and your excuses, right down into all that dead tissue in your lukewarm soul. Fellowship with other Christians seems distant to you. Sin has gained control of the high ground. More and more these days you indulge your weakness and the only thing that bothers you about it is the fact that you know the Christians around you do not approve. “But what right do they have to tell me how to run my life?” is your ever-constant refrain.

Perhaps for a time you thought you should do something to stop the downgrade. Maybe you even made some effort to get back where you knew you should be. But it wasn’t easy and underneath it all though, you realized you were only holding to a form of godliness but denying its power.

If what I have been saying sounds like it describes you and if the cracks in your life are unguarded, just how much longer do you think it can last? A month? A year? Five years? What if your physical life were snuffed out today?

How can a person escape apathy? What can be done to restore the spiritual vitality that was once present? The answer is here in the text we just read. Jesus told the Sardians to do five things to overcome their apathy. Let’s look at them. First, He told them to:

  1. Wake Up!

“Wake up!” Jesus says in verse 2.

The KJV says, “be watchful.” That puts it pretty well but the original word carried an element of urgency. A person can be watchful and be half-asleep. That may well describe the condition of the person who is apathetic – watching, but in a stupor so strong that the ability to act is severely diminished.

If you’ve ever had one of those dreams where you are trying to run but your legs just wouldn’t move or perhaps would only move at a fraction of their true ability, you have a good picture of apathy. So often the apathetic person knows what to do but just can’t get himself or herself going.

Jesus says, “Wake up! Be alert! Open your eyes wide! Slap yourself awake!”

Years ago I read the story of a forest ranger who nearly froze to death. A person freezing to death is aware for awhile, but he just can’t muster the strength to move. It feels too good to let go and sleep. Though he is dying, in his condition he doesn’t care. This is so much like apathy – to know but not care.

In a sense apathy is like quicksand. The longer you are in it the deeper you’re mired. If you are to survive you must get out today. Tomorrow may be too late. Go against those dull feelings! Wake up and do it now!

Secondly, Jesus says to the apathetic,

  1. Strengthen the Things that Remain!

Verse 2 says, “…and strengthen the things which remain which were about to die.”

Apathy has caused you to lose some things you once had. Your spiritual gas tank is dangerously depleted. You may be running on fumes. But the fact that you can hear me is probably an indicator that there is some gas left in your tank.

Apathy causes a downgrade in the life. At first it is just the dulling of the fine edge on your zeal for God. It isn’t too serious, it seems, so the condition is ignored. Next to go is your prayer life. You don’t want to pray. Praying becomes a real chore. Perhaps next to go is your desire for association with other Christians. After all, hanging around in the light tends to expose the gathering darkness in your life. You are annoyed when well meaning brethren ask you how you’re doing. You think, “Is it really necessary for me to attend all the services of the church?” Pretty soon you only come once a week, then begin to miss a week here and there. The price, of course, is guilt, as you are convicted of all this by your conscience and the Holy Spirit. Your response is to rationalize your behavior. The rooster of conscience crows loudly but you just throw him a handful of corn and yell “shut up”

Satan often will at this time come with an offer of something better – something that you would have rejected out of hand in your more attentive days. Now though, it doesn’t seem that wrong.

Stop just a moment. Take stock. Am I describing you? Has apathy crept into your life or is it creeping as I speak? If so, you’d better make some moves quickly to conserve and strengthen what remains.

  1. Remember What You Have Received and Heard!

That is what Jesus says in verse 3: “Remember therefore what you have received and heard…”

Time away from anything brings forgetfulness and unfamiliarity. Perhaps you took some higher math in school. You haven’t used it since graduation. Could you do it now? Probably not. If you don’t use it, you generally lose it.

“What should I remember?” you might ask. You need to remember the real issues of life that brought you to Christ in the first place. Things haven’t changed. There is still a heaven and a hell. (Actually, you’re closer to one or the other than you were back when you started.) There is still sickness and disappointment and aging and death to deal with. There is still a need to have guidance in your life that is bigger than your own fallible abilities.

“Remember what you have received and heard…”

Is it possible that the things you heard so many times in the past, those things you took for granted, have now been forgotten? I’ve seen it happen.

God has built remembrance right into the disciplines of the Christian life if we’ll just use them. When you and I come together to worship on Sunday and take that little bit of unleavened bread and grape juice, we’re supposed to be remembering. In our mind’s eye we should again picture the agony of the crucifixion and then ask the question, “Why?” Then we do self-examination and we have the answer to why. There is still sin in our lives – sin that could condemn us for eternity if it weren’t for the agony on that cross – sin that could still condemn us for eternity if we lose sight of that cross or just don’t care about it anymore. If we’re reminded, it’s harder to be apathetic.

My friends, is apathy slowly hardening like cement around our feet? Have we neglected the basic spiritual disciplines?

You say, “Nope, not me. I haven’t missed communion.” Yes, but have you missed remembering? Without that and the accompanying self-examination, it’s just a meaningless ritual. Have you forgotten these things?

Don’t wait for it to happen? Unless you take specific steps now – the sooner the better – apathy can claim you back for the devil.

Fourthly, Jesus says here,

  1. Keep It!

Keep what? Keep what you have received and heard.

When you buy a car and you intend to keep it for awhile, how do you treat it? Do you neglect it? Do you forget to change the oil and air up the tires and wash it? No. You take care of it. You spend the time that is necessary to maintain it. You don’t let it slip into disrepair because you know that if you are going to keep it, those are the things that must be done. You don’t just talk about doing it. You don’t just buy a manual on car maintenance and upkeep and throw it up on the shelf. You do what is necessary.

In James we read,

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, his is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”

James associates forgetting with not doing.

If you are coming here on Sunday just to watch the preacher work out as he goes through his paces, you’re not doing. You’re just hearing. Soon you will be forgetting and not keeping.

Incidentally, that word “keep” in verse three is in the continuous present tense. The idea is to start and never stop keeping it.

Let me ask you a question. Do you leave here on Sunday feeling like your “doing” is done or like your “doing” is just beginning? Your answer to that question will tell a lot about whether you are a deluded hearer or a doer.

A sign over the exit of the building of the Springfield Church of Christ reads, “You are now entering the mission field.” Some people think such a sign should be on the other side of the door. They look at this building as the field where all the work is done.

By the way, there is something else I need to say and have wanted to say for some time. Do you want to know why some of us get so bored of it all? Its because we never engage the enemy.

Imagine a soldier who never engages the enemy. He drills and drills until he is bored stiff. He marches. He shines the chrome and cleans the barracks and oils his gun. He says “Yes Sir” a hundred times a day. Only one thing he doesn’t do. He doesn’t fight. He never feels the sheer terror of the battle that makes him realize what all the training is about. That’s where some of us are and have been.

“Church is irrelevant,” some say. That’s because they’re not in the battle. They’re just sitting around the barracks thinking there is nothing to do so their training has no purpose. From their perspective, it’s irrelevant.

Listen to me. If you want to energize your life, figure out some ground that Satan now owns and begin to do something to take it for Christ. I guarantee that after you have ducked the hail of bullets that comes your way because you had the audacity to enter the territory of Lord Satan, your boredom will vanish and “church” will become meaningful.

Finally, Jesus says,

  1. Repent!

In every course correction there must be a point of turning – a point where you grab the steering wheel and crank it around – a point where you throw the lever that reverses the engines. Repentance is that point. You make up your mind that you’ll go no further on your present course and throw the lever.

In the Greek the word “repent” is aorist imperative. It describes a determined, definite point of action. It is a point of action, an hour of decision. Repentance is the act – the determination – to change.

Sometimes we think we’ve repented when we’ve agreed with what the preacher has said. That’s not repentance. The devil agrees with what I’m saying in this sermon. Did you know that? He also agrees with what Jesus is saying here in this passage. That’s why he is working so hard at this moment to keep you and me from doing anything about it. Will we let him stroke our apathy? Will we let him continue to lull us to sleep?

“But I don’t want to,” I hear someone say. Such words are spoken in the true form of an apathetic person. Remember that the condition is “without feeling.” Sometimes you have to do things that, at the moment, you just don’t feel like doing – like getting up and going to work on Monday morning. You do it and I guarantee that when payday comes, you’re glad you did.

Wake up! Strengthen what remains! Remember what you have received and determine to keep it! Repent while there is still time to overcome your apathy.

An old Latin proverb says, “The gods walk on feet that are wrapped in wool.”

What they meant by that was that a man or woman could never detect their approach.

So it is with Jesus here. He says, “If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.”


Dr. Laurance M. Gould, President Emeritus of Carlton College, once said in a speech, “I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs and missiles. I don’t think our civilization will end that way. I think it will die when we no longer care.”

The same could be said of the church.

My friends, let’s not get caught unaware and unprepared. Let’s shake off the apathy now!


Final Destination


Have you ever booked a holiday without any idea of where you are going, or without doing some research on the internet, speaking to a travel agent or reading a Lonely Planet guide? It just wouldn’t make sense, because you need to know which airport to go to, what kind of clothes to pack, how much money to take, and what to expect when you arrive. You need something to look forward to!

Many people go through life without any idea of where they are going when they leave this world, and have not given the matter any serious consideration. Many people hold that this is all there is. This is the only life we have and after death we cease to be – there is no final destination!
To live my life as though there was nothing else beyond the grave would drive me mad and lead me into depression. It would be like having to work every day of the year without any breaks, holidays, payslip or pension to look forward to. We are designed to look forward to the future and have hope that there is something better on the horizon.
We have a in-built sense of purpose and destiny, and everyone has a deep longing for something more – it’s what keep us going and the reason we get out of bed every day. It is very easy to fulfill this desire with short-term dreams and goals such as holidays, a better car, a bigger house, finding a spouse, having kids – and there is nothing wrong with these things! – but they are limited by our time here on this earth and are only temporary.
The bible says that God has prepared a place for us when we die and leave this world. We have an open invitation to spend eternity in a new world. John’s gospel (chapter 14) describes it as “the Father’s house”…
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
And 1 Peter 1 says that we have an inheritance that cannot be destroyed…
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you
The message of the Bible and reason Jesus lived, died and was raised to life, is to give us something to look forward to. We have a free boarding pass to allow us access to the holiday of a lifetime – an eternal lifetime! All that is required on our part is to accept it and acknowledge that this nothing we can do to get there on our own. Jesus has already paid for it and wants us to accept the invitation. What could be more exciting and give us more hope than to know that after this life, which can be so full of struggle and hardship, we will be heading to a destination where there’s no more suffering and we can live forever in a new world.
1 Corinthians 4 sums it up perfectly…
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Wherever you are in your relationship with God and your understanding of the Bible, I encourage you to spend some time this exploring the best “travel guide” you will ever find about your life journey. It really is life changing to know where you are going when you die. It will happen to us all, but that is no reason to be depressed because there is a promise of the most incredible final destination. Having this to look forward to gives us hope and a reason to live life to the full!

The Costly Cross


Having watched “The Passion of the Christ” last night, I was struck again by the brutality of Jesus’ death on the cross. It is all too easy to become over familiar with the account of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and there is a danger that we can lose the awe and wonder at the pain and suffering that was endured on our behalf.

We sanitise the crucifixion account for our young children, but sometimes we carry this cartoon depiction into adulthood. Jesus’ death was not a neat and tidy affair. His beatings were horrific and torturous and his trial was fixed and biased to the extreme. The taunts, denials and abuse he received were piercing – and all these things before he even got to the cross!

The cross is the symbol of Christianity but it is almost always produced in shiny metal to be hung on a neck chain, or carefully crafted by a carpenter, planed and varnished to be mounted at perfect right-angles at the front of a church. Whilst it is good to have the cross as a reminder of what Jesus achieved for us, it is important to remember that Jesus died on a rough piece of wood,that had probably been used for previous crucifixions. It would have been heavy, bloodstained, covered in splinters and hideously uncomfortable. The nails that held him to the cross would have been thick and rusty; the rope that bound him, rough and chaffing; the crown of thorns, razor sharp; the hill at Golgotha was dusty, hot and hostile.

If you think this is all a bit graphic and gruesome, you’re right! That’s exactly what it is! Jesus death was unimaginably terrible, but why do we need to know about the gory details? It helps us to understand what Christ endured for our sake. It shows us that Jesus suffered and identifies with our suffering. It removes any illusion that the Easter account is a fairy story for children. It reminds us that although Jesus had the power to silence the Sanhedrin, and to climb down from the cross, he humbled himself and volunteered to walk this path.

All of this brings us to our knees in gratitude to our father in heaven, who gave his son as a sacrifice to release us from the consequences of our sin – death and separation from God. Jesus resurrection three days later is even more miraculous when understood in the light of the brutality and apparent finality of his death.

This Easter, spend some time thinking about the reality of the cross and ask God to renew the wonder and awe at how costly Jesus death was.