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LOVE OF THE FATHER #2AMLove of the Father Individual

You have a father in heaven.

No matter how big and strong you are, there’s many times in your life when you need the resources of one who loves you totally, continuously and in spite of your mistakes. Last week we shared the story of the prodigal son. In today’s message I want to show you what the Father gave the son on his return.

Luke 15:22

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (NLT)

The robe

Picture the son returning home. He is ashamed, filthy and smelly. He has old and dirty clothes. After the Father embraces him he calls for the best or finest robe to be placed upon him. Imagine what this says to the son! What belongs to the Father is freely given to the son. This robe covers over the old and smelly clothes. This robe speaks of what is the best and finest of what the father has; the richness of his provision. When we want to know what meaning is carried in a term such as this we need only look at what God says about the robe in other places in the scripture. For example the righteousness of Christ which is often compared to a robe, or garment, Isaiah 61:10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.(NLT) and Rev 19:8 She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).(AMP)

The robe clothes over whatever clothing lies under it; whatever dirt or smell may lie beneath, and having then an outward appearance of cleanliness, wealth and position as befitting the Father. In the same manner the robe of righteousness covers over all our past and God looks upon us as His son or daughter who belong to Him and live within His family. All He sees when He looks at us is this robe of righteousness and our past is completely covered and is no longer viewed by our heavenly Father. This is the love of the Father.

Application: Does your past haunt you? Does the past speak to you about your unworthiness? Religion tells us we need to earn God’s love. This only brings bondage. Throw off your past. You are redeemed and set free by God’s love. You past has been forgotten and you are a new creation in God’s sight.

Example: Paul started his ministry life by killing Christians. If anyone has a past hat they regretted it was Paul. He counted himself as the “Chiefest of sinners” yet Paul found complete restoration in Christ seeing himself as a new creation in Christ.

The ring

This prodigal lad only wanted to be placed in the position of a slave, but his father said, ‘Put a ring on his finger.’ The ring is an emblem of wealth, position, honour. It is a sign of delegated authority and of representative character; as when Joseph was exalted to be the second man in Egypt, and Pharaoh’s signet ring was plucked off and placed upon his finger. When the son received this ring, no doubt he felt it was undeserved. He would have preferred a probation period where he could prove himself and show his father that he was truly sorry and a changed man – but that’s religion! The father welcomes back the son and immediately gives him the same equal authority he had before as a son of the father, a man of authority, one who represented all that the father was. The immediacy of this gift shows that the restoration was a matter of relationship not works.

Application: Maybe others can point the finger and say you don’t represent the Father after all you’ve done, but let the Father determine that. He gave you the ring of authority. You have His authority over all the power of the enemy. It’s not determined by you own achievements but by the Father’s conferral of his own authority upon you.

Example: When Pharaoh placed his ring on Joseph’s finger, Joseph became prime minister of Egypt. No one questioned his past coming from gaol. He carried Pharaoh’s power and authority and was unquestionably standing in his place.

The Sandals

The servants walked barefoot in their service and this prodigal son came home barefoot, not only because he intended to become as one of my father’s hired servants, but also he had suffered the loss of all his money and had nothing to eat and certainly nothing of finery to wear. In all the metaphors of footwear, we can see the meaning of our walk with God and our ongoing preparation to walk out the life before us, an equipping for the journey of life. But this gift of sandals is primarily another picture of a return to sonship and not servanthood. The father provides for the Son the sandals that mark the apparel of a son. This provision the Father gives freely and generously is the provision our loving heavenly Father has provided for us. Provision that removes us from poverty, and provision that befits the son of a wealthy Father.

Application: Now you have God’s provision. All that he has is yours. He will provide for you as befitting a son, not a servant. It’s now time to believe for God’s abundant provision in your life.

Example: When Jesus finished using the disciple’s boat to preach a message from, He said now push out and let down your nets for a catch. It seemed like a crazy idea as they had tried to fish all night and caught nothing. However on obeying his word they caught a massive haul and their boats were sinking under the weight of their catch. What a great provision.

The Fatted Calf

The fatted calf is the centre of celebration. It’s the centre point of feasting that shows the pinnacle of joy, celebration and love. When you have received the best news you could ever receive, you call all your family together and you feast. The usual word for “kill” in the NT is the Greek word apokteino. However, the word used for “kill” used of killing the fatted calf is thuo. This word means “to sacrifice”. This word was used of sacrificing the Passover lamb. The fatted calf is referred to not a fatted calf, there was just one, in the same way Jesus was the Father’s only sacrifice for sin. The robe, ring and sandals were paid for by the sacrifice of the fatted calf. Sin wasn’t forgotten or ignored, it was paid for by the offering of a sacrifice pleasing and acceptable to God. And who paid for it? The Father! This is the love of the father.

Application: Celebrate your new life with God. Rejoice that your name is written down the book of life. Where better to celebrate but in church. Recognise all that has been given to you and live a new life of joy and thankfulness.

Example: The disciples rejoiced that people were healed when they prayed for them and that devils were cast out. Jesus encouraged them to rejoice in that but even more to rejoice that their names were written down in the book of life.

Now imagine a scene where a brother or sister has sinned against you and hurt you deeply. Later they come to you and ask forgiveness for what they have done. What’s your reaction? Most likely you receive them with joy, if you’re a mature Christian! You accept them and you rejoice in the restored relationship. But do you go the extra mile and kill the fatted calf? Do you spend money to celebrate and give gifts to the brother or sister who once offended you? Now think about this love of the Father. How generous and how complete is His gift of restoration and acceptance?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Have you felt the Father’s embrace?

2. What thoughts go through your mind that stop you from receiving or enjoying God’s love and acceptance?

3. Can you imagine yourself clothed with a robe God gave you? How do you feel?

4. Think about having his authority as conveyed by the ring. What will you do now?

5. How can you enjoy and celebrate your salvation at this feasting time with the fatted calf?

 

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Preaching 7 October 2012 AM

Across the sands of time walk the men and women of greatness, leaving behind them their imprints on changed lives.

You too can leave behind you the effects of your work and generosity in the form of changed lives.

Sir Fred Hollows

Sir Fred Hollows, left behind an imprint of thousands of lives changed through provision of sight. Fred Hollows, was an ophthalmologist who became known for his work in restoring eyesight for countless thousands of people in Australia and many other countries. It has been estimated that more than one million people in the world can see today because of initiatives instigated by Hollows, the most notable example being The Fred Hollows Foundation. When people give to the foundation – lives are changed.

Andy Gourley

Andy Gourley has taken Red Frogs as an organisation around the world. This Chaplaincy Organisation that began in Christian Outreach Centre reaches out to year 12 students at Schoolies week and then later at University O week activities. They are the chaplains that serve with love to protect the brightest and best youth of today, our future leaders from harm due to binge drinking and dangerous behaviour at schoolies week. With many young people becoming Christians at schoolies week and then also later at uni campuses Australia’s future will see the imprint of the work of Red Frogs in people who’s lives took a turn for the better because of Andy Gourley. When people give to Red Frogs – lives are changed.             http://au.redfrogs.com/

Tony Kirwan

Tony and Jenni Kirwan who started Destiny Rescue in this local church, lead a massive team of people now operating in six nations, building over 30 orphanages and rescuing this year alone 150 young girls from brothels. Their work will leave an imprint in the lives of tens of thousands of young women whose destiny has been changed though vision and giving. When people give to Destiny Rescue – lives are changed.      www.destinyrescue.org

Have you considered how your life can leave an imprint in the lives of others?

Can you see behind you the imprints left behind because of where you have been with generosity and service?

This church has embarked upon a mission to leave a vast imprint in the lives of Melburnians. Through our work with Primary School mentoring, High School outreach, Community Kitchen, Police Chaplaincy, and Family Violence reduction we intend to leave behind a significant imprint in the lives of many people in this city.

 

I am inviting you this month to be a part of that imprint into the lives of others.

National Others week

http://nationalothersweek.com/

In this local church the whole month of November will be an others focussed month, culminating in Hero Day where we celebrate people who have gone unrecognised in the community for their selfless work.

This month of October is our month when we focus on making a difference in the lives of others – leaving behind an Imprint!

Last year we raised $60,000 in pledges which has created huge impact in Destiny Rescue’s vision, the planting of a new local church into south Yarra with AJ and Bronnie Masefau and the increased impact of the Community Kitchen in this local area – in fact that was a local, national and international impact that was achieved through your giving.

This year your giving will be directed towards these three initiatives:

  1. Raising the next generation of leaders – The establishing of the internships program in our bible college next year.
  2. Destiny Rescue – Continuing our support
  3. Facility upgrade – After nearly three years our church building needs upgrading internally to refresh and improve to meet our needs.

I want to invite you to our Fundraising Dinner to be held this year on Saturday night 20th October here at church. This year our theme is Imprints. The dinner is free and at the dinner we will be asking you to pledge an amount towards the vision as I just outlined. For a ticket Please see one of these ten people:

Craig, John, Bob, Santo, Yas/Alex, Ken, Tas, Eric, Ed, Jess,

At our dinner we will be having a guest speaker Pastor John Morgan an Australian from Indiana in the USA and a guest singer Heidi Popp who has been here before.

Here’s how to make a huge difference with your life!

Let generosity become your foundation.

Jesus said: Luk 6:38  Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back–given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”[MESS]

Giving is inherent in God’s nature, and becomes part of our own nature too as we follow Jesus Christ.

But also Giving takes faith! Faith that God is your provider.

In the world economic environment right now, we have no end of doom and gloom stories about hard times ahead. China is reducing its use of your primary products like coal and iron ore. The European economic zone is a basket case with most counties experiencing national debt that exceeds their GDP.  If you don’t have faith in God as your foundation and provision then there’s not much positive news for you.

But God has a word for you this morning: Isa 35:4  Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

And: Gen 15:1  AFTER THESE things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great.

God wants to show up for you, but it is accessed through faith.

You will never receive by worrying.

You will never receive by complaining.

You will never receive by comparing with others.

You will receive by trusting in God.

Last month we spoke about getting gout of the boat. The Christian life is all about getting out of the boat. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  – Heb 11:6 [ESV]

Living by faith is essential for true Christians. It is how we normally live. The Just shall live by faith (Rom 1:17) Everyday we practice our faith by prayer, ceasing to worry, sharing our faith, and trusting for His provision amongst other things.

Do you trust him for provision? Is God your provider or is your job? Your investments? Your government benefit? Your parents? Tell me, which of those is completely reliable?

The bible warns us not to trust uncertain riches. The only certain thing is God’s promise to you and to me.

Php 4:19  And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

This promise was given to the Philippians church who gave to Paul’s ministry.

Your faith is demonstrated in your regular faithful giving every week. If you gave only when you had plenty, no faith is required. If you gave only when you felt led by the spirit of God you may have trouble discerning between the voice of the Spirit and your own fears and concerns.

If you give as a matter of principle then your faith is activated and you will be a position to walk on water and grow in faith regularly. Let me tell you …. You want that, because that is the way to grow and achieve much greater things.

God sets a goal for all His people to demonstrate the principle of “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33)  It’s called Tithing.

Tithing is giving God the FIRST tenth of all your income.

“Honour the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income.”    – Proverbs 3:9-10

This is how he puts it:

Mal 3:10  Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. [Mal. 2:2.]

When we bring in the tithe or the first tenth of our income – that is a tenth of all the increase we have received this week we are acknowledging that God is the source of all our needs. Giving a tenth means that you realize you didn’t do this all by yourself, God has blessed you and is constantly providing for you.

It also comes with a promise that God will pour out the blessing upon you.

For some people, this step is not seen as a faith step, one of learning to trust God, but as an imposition. Some may say that this is only an Old Testament law and so is not applicable today. To those we must ask, then what is applicable today. To give less? Surely not? We now serve under a better covenant, now we are commanded to recognise that God owns all things and we are but stewards or managers of all that we possess.

Tithing is the base level of Giving and God wants to supply enough for you to bring the tithe into the storehouse – His church and also have enough to give to every charitable need.

2Co 9:8  And God is able to make all grace (every favour and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. [AMP]

If you wish to make an imprint in the lives of others then begin by being a tither into your local church. Chris and I have done this continually ever since we became Christians. Every year we give away between 10% and 20 % of our total income

What is the tithe for?

In the Old Testament the tithe was for the inheritance of the priestly tribe of Levi. (In other words the people called to do ministry) They did not inherit any land in the promised land. God said He was their inheritance but He commanded the whole nation of Israel to tithe and this would maintain the income and provision for he tribe of Levi so they could focus on the House of God.

Num 18:23  But the Levites shall do the [menial] service of the Tent of Meeting, and they shall bear and remove the iniquity of the people [that is, be answerable for the legal pollutions of the holy things and offer the necessary atonements for unintentional offenses in these matters]. It shall be a statute forever in all your generations, that among the Israelites the Levites have no inheritance [of land].

Num 18:24  But the tithes of the Israelites, which they present as an offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit; therefore I have said to them, Among the Israelites they shall have no inheritance. [They have homes and cities and pasturage to use but not to possess as their personal inheritance.] (AMP)

In the New Testament God says we give to support the ministry in the body of Christ

1Co 9:13  Do you not know that those men who are employed in the services of the temple get their food from the temple? And that those who tend the altar share with the altar [in the offerings brought]? [Deut. 18:1.]

1Co 9:14  [On the same principle] the Lord directed that those who publish the good news (the Gospel) should live (get their maintenance) by the Gospel. (AMP)

Of Tithing in His day Jesus said “These things ought to be done” – Matt 23:23

In our local church an anonymous survey reveals that about 64% of the members practice tithing. This is high in comparison to many churches. Our desire in bringing to you an inspiration to tithe is simply because that is what God has commanded.

Furthermore, it is for your blessing which we long to see; and lastly it is essential for the vision of the local church to prosper that we may complete all that God has given us to do.

Will you be a tither? Continue in this good work if you have already begun. Start this walk of faith if you haven’t done so yet. By doing this you can prove God as Malachi 3:10 says.

This month is about leaving an imprint on this world by our generosity and service.

It begins with Tithing and follows on with giving to Kingdom Advance which will take place at our Imprints Dinner on Saturday night October 20th.

Please consider becoming or continuing as a tither so that we can all together make a significant imprint on the lives of others. Also please pray and ask God what you can pledge to this vision over and above your tithe.

Pray for the spirit of faith.

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