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Destiny Decisions (1 of 2) Mike Connell 20.05.2007
...in Ephesians 2:10. Remember this verse, we've used this quite a lot. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them. So we see in this and other verses that long before you came into this world God designed a purpose for your life. It's your responsibility to discover that purpose. You were brought in here just to fill in your life with just busyness and activities. We're called to partner with God and be productive for Him. That doesn't mean we're all called to be preachers. It means God has a unique purpose for every person and we talked a little bit about destiny, have the idea of a destination, somewhere we're going. Destiny in this sense means literally the path that God is taking us towards, it's destination it's going to reach and the actual journey we take.
And so when we're talking about destiny we're talking about the journey as well as where it ends. Now we know for a believer that we're going to end up in heaven. God's plan is to bring heaven to earth see, so how we will live in heaven, how we will enjoy eternity really is dependent on what we do about bringing heaven to earth in this life. And so every one of us is called to make our life productive in some kind of way and achieving the destiny means you've got to discover what God's called you to do and to do it. The greatest tragedy in life is having no sense of purpose, or to live your life pleasing someone else. That's where many people live their lives. We have to be prepared to break free of an inner desire to please the people around us. You know, God has a plan and it isn't always what others agree with see? So it's a process and a journey, a great journey. I'm loving the journey, it's fantastic.
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul finishes the end of his course. He makes an incredible statement at the end of his life. Imagine getting to the end of his life, but when you see him come to the end of his life he makes a statement - but on the way he had all these things happen to him. He had dramatic things happen to him, but in the midst of them he had this thing inside him, I'm a man of destiny. I have a call and a purpose for my life. So the Bible tells us that there was a time when he got stoned - I'm not talking smoking the wacky backy. He was literally stoned and left for dead and much to everyone's surprise he stands up: I haven't finished my course yet. He ends up getting shipwrecked and he hangs on to a piece of wood for three days in the deep: I haven't finished my course yet. There's another time where they beat him. He gets up and he says I haven't finished my course yet.
When you have a look at Paul's life and all the adversities and obstacles and things he faced, inside him was this tremendous sense I have a course to fill and I haven't finished it yet, and nothing is going to stop me finishing the call God put on my life. When he gets to the end of his life he says now, I said I fought my fight and I have finished the course. What a great thing to get to the end of your life and be able to say, I discovered what God put me in the earth for and I never quit! I finished it! You want to be a finisher, not just a starter. I've seen heaps of starters, start so enthusiastic. We want to finish the race, want to finish and finish strong. So whatever's happened it's still your choice whether you finish strong. It's still your choice. How many know people that start things and never finish them? Don't let that be you.
Okay, let me just give you some decisions now. So what I'm speaking on today, I may have to finish it next week: Destiny Decisions. Now these are personal choices, personal decisions that you make and they have eternal consequences for your life. And I thought about what some of these may be and I've come up with a number of things, which as I've thought about my own life these are absolutely crucial parts of actually forging your life forwards so it has a sense of purpose and it also accomplishes something on the journey. So let me give them you, here it is, number one. Let go the past. You must choose to say no to bitterness and resentment over how you've been treated. Let me just talk a little about that. In Hebrews 12:15 it talks about the grace of God; Let no man fall from the grace of God, and a root of bitterness springing up in you defile many.
Every person coming into this world has some hardships and pains, difficulties and setbacks. It is a part of life. For some of you I know the family situations you've come from; you've come from situations where there was hurt or pain; for some of you great families, others there was abuse in the families. Some families were really wonderful to be there; others were dysfunctional. Some of you have had conflicts in relationships, people let you down, people maybe you gave your heart to and they betrayed you in various kinds of ways. Listen, this is life. Life is like that. But when this happens to you there are two things that happen within you and it's what happens inside you that determines what's going to happen ahead of you. The first thing is you get hurt and wounded by some of the things that happen.
I can think of many events that have happened in my life that have deeply wounded and hurt me, took me quite some time to get over it. The second thing is when you get hurt you believe certain things. You begin to form beliefs; you can never trust any more or you can never trust a leader, or don't trust this or - you begin to start to inside formulate beliefs because you've been wounded and hurt. Now let me tell you this. If you don't resolve those things from your past they will defile your present and steal your destiny, absolutely. I have seen people and because of bitterness they could never make a marriage or a family work; because of hurts and wounds they could never make their life really work. Why? They could never rise to full potential because they never made the choice, the destiny decision I'm going to face what hurt me and who hurt me and how badly I'm hurt. I'm going to forgive. I'm going to release. I'm going to bless and I will move on because I was made for greater things.
You can choose to live in regret and resentment. You can choose to live remembering the injustices you've suffered and all the defeats you've had, or you can choose to forgive, to bless and to grow and to come forward and find in the future that it was all part of God's plan for your life. What you thought could have sunk you now becomes a springboard to help others. Recently I went away for a week, 10 days, I was up in Asia. One place that I went to was in Singapore and there was a family there which I'd met many years ago and their eldest daughter committed suicide. Now I've never had a child commit suicide but I've had a trauma in our family that caused tremendous grief, and I knew exactly what they would be feeling. I was able to go alongside them and to talk with them, and over two days help every member of the family walk forward.
So what I'm doing now or what happened last week came about because I chose to deal with stuff a long time ago. There are courses we have, there's the Freedom Retreat and Restoration Retreat and there are other courses we run. If you've got issues don't look back in regret and resentment and then keep multiplying those problems. Young people, if you've got issues with parents I can tell you now resolve them now! Or you'll repeat them in your future and you'll have to resolve them then - or if you don't ever resolve them they will steal much of the potential God had planned for your life, cause unnecessary pain and hardship. So it's always a decision. There's two people come to mind as I think about this. In 2 Samuel 6 there's a story of David's restoration of the ark into Jerusalem. Now at this very point in time what was happening is years ago when David was a very young man a prophet came and lay hands on him and said I have a plan for you. God has anointed you to be king. You have a destiny to shape a generation!
And so this young man of course was very excited about the dream, excited about the destiny and then he went out and he slew Goliath and he became immediately famous. Then he married the king's daughter and the king became jealous of him. So the king decided to kill him, so King Saul attempted to kill him. His wife helped him escape because she loved him and so David went this way and his wife went that way; both of them treated unjustly by Saul. Years later David has gone through every kind of hardship. He's been a notorious criminal, he's had to survive by share wits and leaning on the presence of God. He's suffered all manner of things - but finally his hour comes when the promise of God is about to be fulfilled, and his heart is free of bitterness, free of resentment, free of negativity. And the Bible says he [joyed 00.08.54] and rejoiced.
Michal, his wife who loved him, never got over what happened to her. She became bitter. She became angry. She came to believe you could never trust any men. She became bitter against God and in the hour when she should have been fulfilling her purpose and coming to the highlight of her life, she was bitter and never entered into it. The Bible said she remained barren, unproductive, unfruitful. She missed her destiny, because she never dealt with the issues of the past. She never dealt with hurt. She never dealt with wrong beliefs. It's one of the things if we're going to go forward, you have to make the decision that you're going to choose to let go of past hurts, going to choose to let go of bitterness and negative thinking, begin to start to be the kind of person that thinks possibilities. Will you be such a person? You have to choose that. No one's going to choose that for you.
You can look back; oh, you don't understand how badly I was treated. You don't know what happened to me and all this stuff. Listen, no, I don't know what happened, but I do know if you don't get over it it will shape the rest of your life. Some of you I really admire because I've sat with some of you - and I won't expose or reveal who you are. That's your testimony, that's your right to do that. But I've sat with many here and heard horrendous stories of what's happened in your lives and I've watched so many of you stand up and courageously face it and move past it. And I just really honour people that have done that. I had one last week I met and it was in my room and there was a counselling situation. There was a confrontational situation and a resolution of something going back years, and I just really admire that young person for the courage to do it.
It takes courage to face where you've been hurt and courage to face what you believe that's wrong and to start to determine I'm going to make changes. So that's a quality destiny decision; make it and you move forward. Don't make it and you'll always be limited and never rise to God's plan for your life. Let me ask you this: don't you think God knew about all of that stuff? And if He knew about all of that stuff He's got a way for you through it. Not only has He got a way for you through it, He's got a way for you to actually come out of it sweet. David said in Psalm 84, blessed is the man who strength or power to overcome was found in the Lord, who passing through the Valley of Sorrows makes it into a well. See, so whatever negative experiences, painful experiences, setbacks you've had, God's plan for your life is you turn that into a sweet well. Others will drink from it and you go from one level of strength to another. What a fantastic thing that is.
Isn't this fantastic? God's the only one that can bring life out of death. Everyone looks and says oh, that was bad. You say God says I see a possibility here! People look and they see Lazarus in the tomb, he's dead! God says you watch Me, he's coming alive! God wants you to come alive. You don't have to stay in that place of death where you're negative and you're resentful and got bad attitudes. You don't have to stay there! It's your choice to stay there. God pours His grace to enable you to get out of it. Choose! Choose! Choose! Make a choice I'll fulfil my destiny. Don't sink. You know Paul was bitten by a snake having got out of a shipwreck. He gets bitten by a snake and shakes it off. I haven't finished my course - see? And I don't know what's bitten you but SHAKE IT OFF! Shake it off! It's not killing me. I haven't finished my course yet. There's more for me to accomplish with my life. [Applause] I'm not going to be defeated at that place.
Some of you have gone through failures, well shake it off. Come to the cross. Come to the blood. Get up and move forward, but don't live in the bitterness of regrets. Live in the vision of a life doing something for God! [Applause] Why not? It's a choice. We've got to choose that way. One of the things I find a challenge in New Zealand is the persistent negativity, dwelling on what's negative and selling what's negative. We've got to change that and be people of dreams and visions and destiny. Amen. Destiny decision number one, let go of past hurts and say NO! This is a no bitterness zone. This is a no negativity zone. This is a no bad belief zone. This is a faith zone! You choose that. No one can choose that for you. Here's the second thing then. The second thing, we found in Romans 14, second destiny decision.
The key scripture here in Romans 14, here it is here. Let's read the scripture first, Romans 14:10. Now why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt or despise your brother? For - look at this - each one of us, we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. As its written says the Lord, as I live every knee shall bow to Me, every tongue shall confess to God - and here it is - so each of us shall give account of himself to God. Each one of us shall give account of himself to God, so here's destiny decision number two. Take personal responsibility for your life and say no to the blame game, and no to victim mentality. I'll say it again. Take personal responsibility for your life and say no to the blame game, and no to victim mentality. You notice what it says; God isn't going to ask about all how badly you were treated. He's going to ask what did you do? What did you think? What was your attitude? What was your motive? What did you say?
He will call us to be responsible for our lives. Now listen, when you get into the issue of blame blame means you're putting the responsibility on someone else. And if you put the responsibility on someone else, guess who doesn't have the ability to change things? If you are victim, you are constantly living in a mentality that someone has hurt me. Someone needs to put it right. You're putting the blame out there, you put the responsibility out there; you have no empowerment to change it. And there are so many people living in our nation who live with this constant reminder of injustices. When you get reminded continually of how badly you're treated you begin to see I'm a victim, and when you're a victim you have no power to change. Unfortunately there are some aspects of governance in our nation that keep people in this mentality.
But you and I have got to see through it; appreciate the good, honour those in authority, but recognise philosophies and thinking that keep you a victim. You are not a victim. You're not a victim unless you choose to be - because you're an adult now. You've got power to make choices. Now maybe years ago someone badly treated you. Maybe years ago you were young and vulnerable. Maybe someone misused their authority and treated you in some kind of way, or maybe it was a generation or two ago someone did something bad. But listen, if you are blaming that for why you're here you have now given up responsibility for your life. You remain a victim. You can't move forward. I hate victim mentality. It's characterised by poor me, won't you feel sorry for me? Jesus confronted it as being a demonic way of thinking.
When Jesus in Matthew 16 was announcing his determination to go to the cross and fulfil the will of God for His life, to fulfil His purpose and destiny, Peter when he heard about the cross, when he heard about the suffering bit, when he heard about the pain bit, when he heard about maybe the crowds will go bit, maybe I'll be alone and having a little bit of pain here somewhere; when he heard that he drew Jesus aside and said pity Yourself. Jesus immediately confronted it. What did He confront? He confronted the self pity, victim mentality. He confronted the thoughts that would make you feel sorry for yourself and become disempowered and draw back from hardship and difficulty and the things that are needed to fulfil your purpose. And He said get behind Me Satan! That's a pretty tough thing to say to an apostle, but He was addressing the thought and the spirit behind that thought, the spirit behind the thought oh, feel sorry for yourself. Look after yourself, is demonic.
And He said not only that, you are a stumbling stone for Me in fulfilling My destiny. When people try and make you feel sorry for yourself, or you start to feel sorry for yourself is coming over you, you've got to stand up and you've got to confront that thought. That's a destiny thief, you've got to stand against that and make a choice I will not go down that path of self pity. I'll not go down the path of being a victim. I will not go down that path, I'm better than that. I've got a call, I've got a destiny. God's able to turn whatever happened to me to good - only if I'll take responsibility for my attitudes and thoughts and words and actions, and do what He calls me to do. I was talking to the wife of this man whose daughter committed suicide and we picked up a number of things.
I said well there are some things you're going to need - there'll be thoughts that will come to your mind and you'll actually need to just grieve over them; acknowledge them and feel them and grieve over them. But I said there are two thoughts you're going to have to make a stand against, and I asked the husband to hold her accountable to stand against it. One is the self pity stream of thought; poor me, I feel sorry for myself. It does not lead you to your destiny; it leads you to becoming disempowered and becoming a victim. Now listen, it doesn't matter what bad deal you've been dealt. I love it - I just was listening to [Chunky Gee. 00.18.37] He said it doesn't matter what hand of cards you were dealt in life, there's someone could pick them up and win the game with them. I like that. Did you hear him say that? I like that one [unclear 00.18.49]. I'm going to remember that one - see, because it's actually true.
You can say well you don't understand how bad it was and my family and my background and our culture and this and this and this and this; the poverty and the struggles or whatever. You can say a whole lot of those kinds of things. At the end of the day someone could pick that up and make something happen out of that. I was just talking last night to the guys about a man born in Putaruru who had a harelip and cleft palate and a speech impediment. He was so unable to communicate properly that the headmaster called him retarded. He recently received $47 million for selling his share in Trade Me. [Applause] And this is what happened. This is what happened. His mother said you may have these physical issues, but no son of mine is going to be a dummy. Find what you're good at and make it great - and he did. It shows what can be done doesn't it aye? Of course you'd say but it's not [poor person. 00.19.44] He's not feeling poor. It fact he's actually very, very wealthy. [Laughter]
Come on, you've got to make a decision. How many saw the 20/20 with Tess, our niece, you know Paul's daughter? How many saw that. Oh man you'd love to see it, you really have to see it. She was born with no arms, just from the elbows down, no hands and this part of the arm. But to see her attitude and spirit and she said oh I don't need arms, I don't need hands. He said would you want to have hands? She said no, I don't want hands. She said I've got a great life like I have, and there she is scaling a wall, a climbing wall with no hands. Some of you would look at it with hands and not even try; I can't! Aaah, I can't! I watched her climb up there with these little stumps, up she goes, unbelievable. And it's a real credit that Paul put into her not to consider that as being an obstruction and a limitation for her life. She doesn't consider herself disabled at all. Everyone else does and feels sorry. Feeling sorry doesn't get you anywhere. You've got to make decisions, got to be responsible for your life, personally responsible for your life.
Isn't it fantastic when you think about these kinds of things? And so don't go down this blame game. Don't go blaming someone else. Just own your stuff. If there's a conflict find your part, own your part and become empowered to make a difference. Don't go blaming someone else. There's two examples in the Bible that I can think of of this. One of them is King Saul found in 1 Samuel 15. Read the verses there, 1 Samuel 15:20-21. And you see Saul and he begins to blame the people; ooh, it wasn't my fault. I did what God wanted me to do. [Where's the 00.21.18] people? What kind of leader is that, he's blaming the people for what happened? He's the leader, he's in charge. You don't blame the people for what you allowed to have happen, see? And so what happened was he never took responsibility for his bad decisions. What he did was he tried to blame someone else for them and what happened was he lost his destiny. He totally missed his destiny.
Why did he miss his destiny? Very, very simply for this one reason; that he would not take responsibility for his failures. What a contrast to David and we see that in the verses there in 2 Samuel 24:10, where David said I have sinned against the Lord. He took full responsibility for his decisions and for his failures. What an amazing thing for a young man to take that kind of responsibility. He never blamed anyone else; he took full ownership, full responsibility. We need to see how clearly it is, you make these quality decisions: I will not be a victim. I will not play the blame game. I will take responsibility for my life. I am what I am because of my choices, not because of someone else. I'm where I am because of my choices, not because of someone else's. I will be in the future where God wants me to be because I chose to be.
Young people, you make choices today that are going to determine the direction of your life. If you look at older people here they look back and they know the decisions they made and why they're where they are now. Is that true or not? Once you got past 40 you're looking back at some of those decisions thinking boy, that wasn't a smart thing at all. There were a lot of bad ones down there [laughs] but don't live in regret! Don't blame someone else. Make a decision I've still got time, I'm going to make the best of the time I have and my life will count. Can you say yes to that? [Yes!] I'll share with you next week five other destiny decisions, crucial choices you make with your life; the first two today, just repeat them so we have them very clear in our minds. The first destiny decision, I will let go of past hurts. I'll release bitterness. I'll release the pain. I'll release wrong beliefs and negativity. I won't hold on to them.
The second one is I'll take personal responsibility. I will say no to self pity and the blame game. I will own my life and begin now to choose to do something with it. Are you lacking in your walk with God? Make a choice to do something. Don't blame someone else. Are you suffering financially? You're probably reaping the choices of bad decisions. Make better decisions; don't blame someone else. If you've got some troubles in your relationships take responsibility to initiate change, don't wait for someone else. If there's a problem and a conflict in the marriage you be the answer, don't wait for someone else to change. Wives, you're worried about your husband and you're resentful of him. You make the change, because you've got power to change. We've all got power to make choices.
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Destiny Decisions (2 of 2) Mike Connell 27.05.2007 am
Ephesians 2:10 - well I know that, I don't need to look to it. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus under good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. And we saw last week how God had planned before we were born a course for our life to take, an eternal destination - heaven - and the eternal destiny, things that we will be occupied with throughout eternity. And so before we came into this world God prepared that, but it's our choice to respond to that, and so it says He has prepared works for us to accomplish - so there's no person here that God has not called you firstly into relationship and intimacy, and out of that to accomplish things that advance His kingdom in the earth. And so we're all called to do that and that's the course that we run. We want to get to the end of our course like Paul, who said I have finished my course, I've fought the good fight, I've finished my course, henceforth is laid up for me a crown.
So right now you and I are on a course and I want to run my course as passionately and as strongly as I can and I want to finish it as strongly as I can, and so there is no place for half-heartedness in that. And we saw some decisions we make that actually as a consequence of these decisions our whole future is affected. Everyone makes them and we're not all called to be preachers of the gospel, but we're all called to be ambassadors for Christ. And so we have the power to make any choice we like, but we have no power over the consequences of the choice. Once you've chosen, then there's certain things follow and so when we choose to make decisions that are good and godly and flow with His will, there are tremendous blessings and benefits begin to outwork in our life. Often they're not seen until you've walked with the Lord some years.
Sometimes we make lots of little decisions and they're costly little decisions, and it doesn't seem like its any benefit. But over the course of your life, gradually you see God working and gradually you see tremendous things begin to unfold behind you and you see the fruit of those decisions. Okay then, so we talked about two of those decisions and the first one was I needed to make the decision to let go the past, to say no to bitterness and resentment and unforgiveness. I've got to choose; we make a choice whether we'll harbour things from the past, broken relationships, hurts and woundings, or whether we will position ourself to deal with it. We have courses in the church to deal with these things. By far the most common issue that holds people back is they remain hurt, unforgiving, resentful and locked back to their past and believing negative things that then begin to affect the future. If you want to fulfil your potential you've got to unlock from things that hurt you and set you back.
We do that by the process of acknowledging them, grieving over them, and then forgiving them. Sometimes we've got to repent and release people from things. The second destiny decision we saw was we need to take personal responsibility. We must say no to the blame game, blaming someone else. We must say no to victim thinking. See, all of these things are very, very important, that we make those decisions and if we remain a victim saying well look how badly I was treated and this happened to me and that happened to me, then we're waiting for someone to come through for us and at the same time blaming someone else for why we are where we are. The moment you get into the blame game and don't take responsibility, you have no power. You have power and authority over everything you assume responsibility for, so if God has given you certain things and you don't take responsibility for them, then you will find they will come out of control and be embarrassment for you.
We've got a financial course coming up shortly. Now if you're in debt I encourage you to go the course, because you're in bondage. The Bible says a person in debt is in bondage. The borrower is the servant of the lender, so if you've borrowed off ungodly people you're in bondage to them and it affects your future. I've talked with people in the church and they run everything up on tick and they - see what you do is you're selling your future. You're putting yourself in such bondage you can't fulfil what God calls you to do. If God says I want you to do this, you're just not positioned to do it. So when you get into debt you don't realise your mortgaging your future and there are certain places we can get into debt, but go to the course. Get dominion over your finances. An interesting thing when I talked with Andrew about the whole issue of Uganda we realised an interesting thing. For many people in the church if we gave them $100, they wouldn't get out of their debt. In other words they're below zero.
With Ugandans if we give them $100 they come up above zero and they start to be productive. I thought well man, I looked on them as being poor and I realised actually debt and this whole thing of credit has really crippled the church far more than we realise. So we want to do things that will help you and this course is one way to help you in that - so take personal responsibility. Say no to being a victim. Now let's give you the other ones and I want to get through these today. Each one of them you could develop and think about, but if I just give you them you'll realise and they just - like most things with God, anything that God's in is actually commonsense. You thought oh, I knew that. It doesn't mean to say you're doing it, but you knew it. Okay, so let me give you some of the other destiny decisions. These are important decisions.
Here's one of them which is very important: pursue excellence. Pursue excellence. In other words say no to mediocrity and half-heartedness; no to mediocrity and half-heartedness. Let me give you a verse in Colossians 3:23. Let's have a look at that. Excellence doesn't mean that I'm the best around. Excellence means I'm committed to do the best I can and to continually work to improve, so I never settle down for half-heartedness, see? Sometimes we use the word excellence; you say well that's beyond me. That's for other people. No, no, no, excellence is when you do your very best. When you use whatever resources and ability you've got and you do the very best you can, that's excellence and then when you continue to work to improve then that's excellence. That's the commitment to excellence, otherwise we look and we say I could never be like that, see?
So in Colossians 3:23 notice what it tells us here. Whatever you do, whatever you do do it from the heart or with excellence. Do it wholeheartedly as if you were doing it for the Lord and not unto men. And here's the reason why we do that, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance. So this has got destiny implications in it. I need to approach my life that I will never devalue myself by ever doing something half-heartedly. I'll never be involved in something mediocre. If it's mediocre change it and make it excellent, but don't give your life to something that's half-hearted. It will diminish your value. We must make a decision inside, if we're going to do something do it really well. One of the things I was delighted to see that in Uganda the property that John has got where they've got a house rented and they've got their offices in, is the sharpest looking one in the whole city.
They just keep it clean and they look after it. Everyone else just lets things run down - and so excellence. Mediocre means literally barely adequate, barely adequate, moderate to inferior in quality. So think about the jobs you do young people; your room. [Laughter] Moderate, mediocre, half-hearted, poor quality. That's not excellence. The funny thing about excellence is when you've committed to excellence in your life and you just do whatever you do well, what happens is it creates a draw of good things into your life. When you do things half-heartedly people are repelled you. No one likes half-heartedness. No one likes a tradesman who's half-hearted. No one likes a job that was done and it was a mediocre job. Just no one likes it, they don't come back, so excellence has a way of attracting and drawing results. Excellence honours God and it seems to attract people. It seems to do something. Excellence means or to excel means go beyond a limit or standard, to rise high and distinguish yourself.
So you could do the floors, you could clean the floors with excellence. See, it shows up there. You could clean the toilets with excellence. See, it's not like you've got to have some big quality. It's just what you do you do it well. I heard someone say one time how come you haven't got the time to do it well, but you have got the time to do it again? [Laughter] Think about that. Think about that. Just whatever you put your hand to, say I'm going to do it well. I'll do it so it stands up and salutes and says yes sir, and people know that was a good job. See, whatever we do. Now one of the things that's been a blight in the church and has greatly caused the community to be turned off is mediocrity, half-heartedness, lukewarmness. You have a look around a lot of church facilities you go to and you find they don't represent an excellent King. They don't represent an excellent God. They look run down, shoddy and everything inside looks like it's tired and about to give up.
That doesn't inspire me at all. I'm not attracted to anything like that, and if you say that God's in that then I'm not attracted to the God that's in that. See, but when there's excellence, there's something about excellence that inspires us. The Queen of Sheba came to Solomon and the Bible tells us her breath was taken away because everything was excellent. It says there was no more spirit in her, so excellence honours God. He's an excellent God, so when we do things well what we're doing is we're making a decision to position ourself for God's very best as well. There are many examples. We shared a couple of them before. Let me give you another one. In Proverbs 10:4 it says he who deals with a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. So it's a personal choice not to take on the she'll be right attitude; oh she'll be right, it's near enough.
Now listen, you've got to say no. If I'm going to do it I'll do it well. Now that comes to your job, it comes to your school work, it comes to your housework. It comes to everything we do, we do it well. That's why one of the things I love about this church, people who come here, they just love the way they're greeted and the hospitality and the way they're met and the way they're looked after. They just go away inspired. They go away inspired because most places they go it isn't like that, but we've been working to build excellence into the church in every area. That's why we put money into facilities, keep everything sharp. It doesn't need to be extravagant, but it just needs to be sharp, a cut above the ordinary. And to do that takes effort. You've got to maintain things, you've got to keep them looking sharp. You've got to keep them painted, you've got to keep them maintained.
Think about your home. Does your home when you look around the grounds and look around, when someone stands outside your home do they see excellence? Not seeing rich, we're talking excellence, that things are kept tidy and sharp. Actually what you do, you present yourself well. It's almost certain that in those little things you will reveal certain aspects of your character, so are you known as someone that's chosen I'll never do anything half-hearted. Whatever I do I always do it well. That's a pathway to promotion and if people know that it's a pathway to promotion, how much more does God know it's the way for you to go forward in your destiny? I want to share with you a couple of examples from the Bible. We won't look them up but you do know them quite well.
In Revelations 3:14-16, there was a church in Laodicea and it was rejected or it lost its destiny. And Jesus Himself spoke why it lost its destiny; He said because of half-heartedness and lukewarmness. Lukewarmness costs you your destiny. That's why if you're a lukewarm Christian you're probably the most miserable of all people, because you haven't enough world to help you keep happy. You're sort of saying no to that most of the time, and you haven't got enough of God to actually inspire you and motivate and energise you, so you're in this energy-less place - whereas I know if I give my very best to God in worship, best to God in prayer; I give Him the best I find He gives also His best to me. See, that's why - for me to get up early and to come to be here today, whether I was preaching or not I still want to be in the presence of God. I can't stand the thought of three Sundays and missing what we have here. It's just a mentality you begin to develop.
My father-in-law told me, he said never be involved in anything that's mediocre, and I'm involved in something that's not mediocre. It's called the kingdom of God. It's an excellent kingdom - so you notice here the church in Laodicea, He says because you're half-hearted I'll spit you out, so even God doesn't like mediocrity. In Malachi He says half-hearted offerings, I'm not interested in those either. See, there's nothing about half-heartedness that draws God to honour our work, but when we do it well see, when we do it well; when it's done with a full heart and passion - maybe no one sees it but God who watches sees we're making good destiny decisions. Think about it. How could God trust you to be excellent with His work if you can't be excellent with what you already have, see? So let's say no to mediocrity, no to half-heartedness.
See and same in the worship. Half-hearted worship - you know one of the things I've noticed about half-hearted worship? God's presence never comes. So if we're cold and down and miserable and we can't be bothered, you know what happens? God can't be bothered either. His presence doesn't come into the church, and so I have to continually work with the musicians, also with the church, that when you come and the moment we get here we get here right on time. We're ready to start right on time. Why? You wouldn't miss a dentist appointment. You wouldn't miss a doctor's appointment. You wouldn't miss an appointment with your banker. You wouldn't miss these appointments, you'd be there on time - but with God, oh she'll be right. And then we wonder why if we're she'll be right with God, that we don't actually see and enjoy God's favour in our life. You can't treat Him that way, He's a person. And you know yourself if someone always treats you in a half-hearted way, you're not going to respond.
How much more will the living God be the same? And so you see there that half-heartedness, whereas we can see in Daniel 6:1-4, remember what it tells about Daniel. I love this about Daniel. Boy I love this verse here. It says this about Daniel: It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these were three governors of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above all the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; they could find no charge or fault because he was faithful; there was no error or fault. He was excellent. He wasn't mediocre. He didn't say oh that's near enough. He was actually attentive to details.
He was attentive to details. He made sure things were done and they were done well, and so you notice here he became promoted. Why did this happen? Because he had an excellent spirit in him. What spirit did he have in him? The Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God's an excellent spirit. He inspires us to do things well. This is why when we're dealing with Uganda we've actually just refused to go forward until they start to do things right and do it well. Then we add more to them - and it's the same for you. If you want to go forward, if you want God's favour in your life, we need to make a decision what I'm going to do is choose excellence. Here's another one: choose character. Develop character. Here's another destiny decision, develop strong character and say no to compromise. Develop strong character, strong character. In Romans 8:29 the Bible tells us that He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, His Son, the First Born of many brothers.
So God's plan and God's destiny is we become Christ-like in character, so when you make a commitment to grow your character and develop your character, you're making a commitment to your destiny - because I've noticed this. I was sharing this with someone else the other day. I haven't got a whiteboard or anything; if you could imagine just for a moment three circles like this, one here and there's one nice big circle there, another one intersecting it and then a third one intersecting it okay? Now pretty well all you see in a person's life is the top circle, the gift that they have. The top circle is their gift. The Bible says a gift will make room for you, so if you've got giftings in your life, you're musical or creative or quite gifted [an accountant 00.16.50] then it'll open a door for you. But what keeps you in that place is your character and your spirit or attitude that you carry.
So you'll find a person that you receive and give them a job because he's got great gifting, if he hasn't got a good character to go with it eventually you'll want to fire him. If he defiles and messes up the relationships because he hasn't got a good spirit and ability to connect and relate to people, then also he'll probably get fired as well. So what I've noticed over years now with people, that people make the most of all their gifts and highlight what they're gifted at, but actually it's your character and your spirit that determines whether you can build anything big. And so if we're going to really advance in our life the things we can give attention to are our character and the spirit that we carry, so we carry an excellent spirit and also we develop our character. So what do we mean develop your character? Well what about the area of being faithful, that when you give your word you can be relied on. That's character.
What about being honest? There's absolutely no dishonesty in any area of your life; that's your character. What about generosity, where you're abundantly generous and bless the people around you, sow into them and give to them and assist them and encourage them. These are character areas. What about the area of courage, the ability to be able to stand in the place of compromise and say no, I'm not going to go with the crowd. So I've seen heaps of gifted people over the while, but the only ones I've seen produce lasting fruit and go forward in God are those who actually address the issue of having an excellent spirit, a right spirit, and also develop their character so they've got a strong, reliable character. Give me character anytime, because at least I know can rely on him - but if I can get character and gifting and good spirit, you've got someone who can really produce, someone who'll go forward in God.
Now you see character is something you can work on. How often do you give a little word, say you're going to do something and don't do it? These are the kinds of things that are part of our character, so all of those issues we can work on. Now let me give you a couple of people, one who missed their destiny because of their character; the other one who got his destiny because of his character. Here's one of them, 2 Kings 5:20-27. There was a man by the name Gehazi. Now Gehazi had a unique opportunity. Elijah was a man anointed by God and he chose a disciple Elisha. Elisha received a double portion of what Elijah had. He did twice as many miracles. His servant was Gehazi. His disciple was Gehazi, so Gehazi was positioned to be able to flow in the anointing of the supernatural and to replace Elisha when Elisha died. What an amazing opportunity! And so he was positioned in his life by serving Elisha to eventually have the mantel of Elisha on him, and be able to have a unique influence in the nation.
But Elisha had a different heart and character to him, so what happened was when the Syrian came along Elisha spoke to him directions and the man received a miracle, and Naaman the Syrian wanted to give to Elisha some money. Elisha said no money, I'm not taking any money - because if he took money there'd be a sense where the obligation had gone. By taking no money he showed a pure heart and attitude, and he left the possibility of a strategic relationship open. But you see what happened Gehazi looks and says man, this Syrian, well we should have taken something off him. He got this miracle. He's going to die you know, he's a leper. Man, this is wrong, I need to do something about this - so he sneaked out and he said listen, my master's had a change of mind and what he wants is a little bit of gold and a bit of silver and some clothes. Can you help him out? And he said yeah, fine.
He gave him all the clothes. He took them all away, took the silver and the gold, and of course Elisha saw in the spirit what had happened. Elisha confronted him and the result of his sin was he got leprosy, his family got leprosy, his descendants had a curse of leprosy over them and they missed their destiny completely. Now this is not written there for nothing. This is written to help us to see that character has a huge impact on the destiny that we have. I look at the years of ministries I've seen that have fallen; they never fell because they weren't gifted, never fell because they weren't - a love for God. They fell because in the area of character there was compromise somewhere, so think about your own life and ministry. Think about what you do. Build and develop character, faithfulness in small things. Here's someone, Daniel 3:17-18: Daniel's three friends and they're faced with this compromise. The king had put a huge gold idol up and he said everyone has got to bow down and follow the culture.
Now young people, it's a great message for you if you look into that. They were forced to conform to the peer group and the three guys said well listen, you know, we're not going to do that. And so they were brought to the king and the king said do it! Bow down or you burn! They said well king, we understand what you're saying, but he said our God who we serve is able to deliver us. But if He doesn't there's no way we're bowing down. We're going to suffer for our faith, even to the point of death. I have just been reading recently articles concerning Christians in Turkey who have been tortured to the point of death, rather than compromise their faith in Christ. See and these guys here, it says they were promoted as a result of that, so God gave them grace. They were spared. There was a miracles intervention by the Lord and they came up and they are examples for us of people who never compromised and fulfilled their destiny.
Joseph's another one, refused to compromise over sexual sin and he came into his destiny. The Bible's full of this. Think of other examples of people who fell because of this. Here's another one then. Here's number five. Here's another decision that will impact your destiny or your future. Now remember each of these decisions actually have lifelong application and consequences. A person who's excellent at the beginning will be excellent right through his life. A person who builds character will be a charactered person right through their life. Here's another one: build or pursue vital relationships. If we want to succeed in fulfilling our destiny we'll never do it alone. Say no to going it alone. Say no to going it alone. We are made for relationships. In Proverbs 18:1 it says the one who isolates himself is seeking his own agenda. A person who isolates themself or separates from relationships with other people has got their own plan, their own agenda, and it does not include others.
So I've found inevitably when a person isolates themself they've got something going on inside them that isn't right. Even in a flock a sheep that isolates itself is usually sick. Now this is what the Bible tells us in Proverbs 13:20. The person who walks with wise men will become wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed. So the people closest to you have a huge impact on where your life goes. The people closest to you have a huge impact on where your life goes, so who are you letting into your heart? Who are you letting into your life? Do you have relationships you're consciously building which are vital; they give you life and they inspire to come up another level? Now the ones we feel comfortable with are the ones who are a little lower than us. We feel comfortable with them, there's no challenge there. They think we're wonderful.
The ones who are above us or they've got greater character, greater success, greater capacity, greater vision, greater faith, greater prayer life; we feel a little uncomfortable when we're with them because we become aware where we are. But those are the ones that help you come up another level, so every one of us needs to make a decision if we're going to fulfil our destiny, I need others to help me get there. I can't get there alone. This is one of the reasons for small groups in the church, to have relationships where people know you, they can encourage you, they can stand with you, but particularly so you can be supported to go forward. So vital relationships are absolutely crucial - and that means you've got to pursue them. Now sometimes that can be difficult. If you had a mentor, if you had someone who could coach you to success, give you direction in your life and help you, you would quickly accelerate your growth.
So when people coach us or we have a personal coach or someone speaks into your life, what it does is it accelerates the process of change, rather than trying to just do it all on your own. Don't be distracted, just keep focus. Here we are, let me give you two examples of people. I want to show you two who missed their destiny because they missed vital relationships. The first one is Jonathan. Jonathan, through covenant with David, was destined to be on the throne beside him, but he died in a battlefield next to his father. He missed his destiny because of loyalty to something that was about to pass away, loyalty to the old. It was what you'd call a misplaced loyalty. Some people are holding to relationships and connections that long ago should have been let go of, because they're no longer part of where you are and where you're going. False loyalty can lock us - I've seen people cover up in their family horrendous abuse because of false loyalty.
See, false loyalty means when we violate the word of God in conscience in order to maintain a connection with someone. We need to actually understand the importance of dealing with this issue in our lives, of actually ensuring we're connected where God is moving and with what God is doing. Another example is Demas. Demas was another guy who missed his calling. Demas was a friend of Paul. He was next to the apostle Paul. Paul writes Paul and Demas and Timothy and the other ones who [were here, 00.26.26] then later on he says this. He said Demas has departed from me having loved this world. So Demas had a apostolic call. He was moving in the supernatural, but when it got hard he began to think of how easy it would be in the world and so he left the call of ministry and went back away from that. The Bible says he actually left his destiny. He left what he was called to be. What a unique opportunity working next to the apostle Paul - a bit challenging but [laughs]. But he left it. He quit. He just quit when it got tough.
I've seen heaps of people - how many people have seen a Christian quit when it got tough, and if you think about their life they just never have gone right since then? I can think of heaps of them, because they disconnected from vital relationships, often because they got offended or needed to change and they didn't change. An example of person who fulfilled his destiny was Elisha. Elisha remained connected to Elijah and would not let go, and he got something that took him into the future. Here are the last couple of destiny decisions. The next one is you need to develop a plan. Without a vision - Proverbs 29 tells us without a vision we perish. We miss the opportunities in life unless we have some kind of plan in our life, so I encourage you to think about planning. It's a decision to plan. Everything that's going to get you somewhere is going to take a plan. The Bible says the plans of the diligent make a person rich. It says the simple person passes on and he misses opportunities.
Every one of us needs to set some kind of goals. Goals are just the plan you have with some steps to get there. No planning financially, your finances will be in a mess. No planning concerning a marriage, your marriage will be in a mess. No planning concerning family, you'll have heaps of kids. [Laughter] I can tell you now. [Laughter] See, so but in order for us to go forward we need to actually plan how we're going to go forward. Let me ask you this: if your finances are going to go forward what plan do you have in place? If your marriage is going to deepen in intimacy what plan do you have in place? If your spiritual life is going to improve what plan do you have in place? If your relationships are going to develop what plan do you have in place? Young women, if you're looking for a man what plan do you have in place to grow yourself as a person? Men, if you're looking for some woman, don't look for the woman; what plan have you got in place to grow yourself so you'll be a great catch?
Come on, you think everything in life has got a plan. Even this building was built with a plan. There's nothing constructed eternally that doesn't have a plan it in. God has a plan and He works it out step by step, so start to plan. If you want your destiny to be fulfilled you've got to start to make plans that your life will follow a course by vision and not by just circumstance. And finally the last one is cultivate intimacy with God. Probably the most important of all is to cultivate intimacy with God. Proverbs [3:3-5 00.29.14] it says Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways be intimate with God and He will direct your paths, see? So if we want God to direct our path into our destiny there has to come a point where you stop trying to lean on your own ability and just trust yourself to walk with God and begin to be intimate with Him, opening your heart to Him about your plans, the affairs of your life.
These are decisions that affect destiny. I have watched people, observed people and I've noticed that people who have moved forward and made an impact with their life, all of these things are operating in their life. What about your life? What's happening there? Let's just close our eyes for a moment right now. When we cultivate intimacy with God we're saying no to becoming religious. The Pharisees were religious and never had a destiny, failed altogether. See, David was not religious. David had intimacy with God and fulfilled the will of God - so here's some decisions for us to make. As we think about those decisions, seven decisions, each one of them you work it out in your life, and as I look at people around me I see people who have already done that and you can see their lives going forward; decision to let go of past offences, what a great thing.
A decision to take responsibility, what a great thing to choose to be responsible for my life and future; a decision to develop character, a decision to pursue excellence, a decision to pursue strong and supportive vital relationships and not be a loner. All of these are vital decisions, decision that I will build intimacy in my life with God, a vital decision.
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