Royal Sacrifice

Personal Matters

We were led into prayer by this scripture, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” called to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5, 9). If Christ’s character is most visible in the sacrifice of the cross then Jesus’ people have never looked less like him. Like Israel of old the people of God are being “destroyed for lack of knowledge” and our priestly ministry is not being recognised by the Lord (Hos 4:6). Such harsh words can be supported by a scriptural examination of the sort of sacrifice royalty offers to God.

Sacrifice Refused

As a symbol of Christ Adam was a king commanded to exercise dominion over the earth and a priest called to offer up life in all its dimensions to God (Gen 1:26-28; Rom 5:14). The maintenance of his royal dignity as God’s firstborn son required however a costly inner sacrifice (Luke 3:38).

Warned by the Lord that sin meant sure death Adam was called to live each day under the prospect of dying (Gen 2:17). He was to walk in this knowledge by faith as a “living sacrifice…good, acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2).

The satanic deception was that Eve and Adam could reign as kings free from any prospect of death (Gen 3:4-5).

The devil suggested that deathlessness was the true hallmark of royal dignity and one that abolished the need for any priestly sacrifice.

The tragic truth was that in refusing to live sacrificially in fellowship with their Creator Adam and Eve fell under the dominion of death and lost their royal dignity (Rom 5:14).

God however! Did not abandon humanity but established a means of reconciliation.

Through the generations the LORD reminded his people of their royal priesthood by commanding the costly sacrifice of the firstborn; the fruit of youthful vigour and the first part of a new generation belonged to God (Ex 13:2, 12; 34:19).

This principle of forfeiting the first fruits is much older than the Law of Moses. Abel offered the “first born of his flock”;  Cain however, Eve’s own first born and thus one who should have known better, offered the Lord only “the fruit of the ground” (Gen 4:3-4).

Cain and his cheap sacrifice are not accepted and sin comes to “rule over” his life (Gen 4:5ff.).

Whenever humanity refuses to offer the priestly sacrifice of firstborn it always loses royal dignity and comes under the rule of evil powers. The dynamic of costly sacrifice is powerfully illustrated by an Old Testament horror story.

The Wrath of Chemosh

The spiritual power released in the practice of sacrificing the first fruits of life is illustrated in 2 Kings 3.

The capital of Moab is surrounded by the armies of Israel and its people are about to be annihilated. “Then he (king Mesha) took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.” (v.27).

2 Kings 3:27

In Mesha’s mind his impending defeat was a sign of the anger of Chemosh his god, Chemosh’s anger was turned from Moab to Israel by the sacrifice of his first born son destined to rule.

The royal prince was the only life with sufficient dignity whose death could turn away divine wrath (cf. John 11:49-50).

This grisly story points us to a powerful spiritual truth.

Instead of decrease increase follows.

Whoever by faith sacrifices the best in their life, their first fruits, whether this is a son, crops, money, vocation, time etc. believes that divine power can multiply fruitfulness in opposition to the natural outcome expected from such a slaying.

For Christians, the sacrifice of the first born is a type of the resurrection of the Lord (cf. Heb 11:17-19).

The Sacrifice of the King

The wrath of Chemosh seems merely redirected from Moab to Israel, but the nature of this god as wrathful remains unchanged.

The sacrifice of Christ the only Son is the exact opposite of the perverted father-son epic in Moab, for the sacrifice of the cross reveals a Father who is not naturally wrathful (John 3:16-17).

Whilst outside of Christ the wrath of God remains, in the Son there is no place for wrath (John 3:36; 5:24).

Jesus is the holy priest-king who has always been God’s treasured possession and in whose image Adam and Israel were called and created (Ex 19:5-6).

The source of the dignity of humanity is found in him and expressed in his triumph over all evil in the course of a sinless life (Heb 4:15).

As the one destined for sacrifice nothing reigns over him.

Jesus must however reign in death as well as in life. The title over his head, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”, prophetically testifies to such a royal death (Matt 27:37).

Unlike the prince of Moab, who must have felt uniquely honoured to die to appease his god and father, Christ’s death in our place is experienced as the indignity of Fatherlessness.

My God…why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34).

In the cross the rule of sin, Satan and death seem to strip Jesus of all royal dignity.

The truth of the cross as an infinitely dignified royal sacrifice is however manifested in resurrection; from here on Christ begins to rule until every enemy is placed under his feet (1 Cor 15:25; Heb 1:13).

The faithful sacrifice of the firstborn brings forth fruitfulness opposite to every natural expectation.  

Instead of decrease the kingdom of God increases without end (Isa 9:7).

Christian Sacrifice

In Christ you are a royal son and possess the value of a premier sacrifice (Rom 8:29).

When called by God to sacrifice for Christ we should be excited, for such sacrifice will intensify our royal dignity and extend God’s kingdom.

Whatever we offer up of our life’s first fruits will surely be multiplied for God’s use through resurrection power; “death is at work in us, life in you” (2 Cor 4:8-12; Phil 3:10).

Jesus’ words about his destiny are true for us all; ““The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified….unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-24).

Conformity to death and resurrection is what a means to be a royal priesthood.

A great deception however is at work in our affluence.

All who surround themselves with worldly treasures and claim them as sure signs of God’s blessing are merely warding off their fear of death.

Whilst those who have learned to walk in sacrifice enjoy the royal dignity of being “treasured possessions” of the Lord and reign in life free from the fear of death (Rom 5:17). These are hardly hidden things.

If the Church leaders of today embodied the life of royal sacrifice so much spiritual power would be released that we would be back in the book of Acts (2:42-47).

Conclusion

A mature faith knows that the sacrifice of the firstborn: “WHAT WE TREASURE MOST”, releases a spiritual fruitfulness directly opposite to the naturally expected outcome.

This is true whether the sacrifice involves family, finances, career, ministry opportunities or whatever.

Increase overcomes decrease through the rule of God to his glory.

This is not some formula, but conformity to the character of Christ.

Too many Christians today lack the clarity of conscience which testifies that their sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Too few lack royal dignity in the way of death-and-resurrection.

Surely it is time to ask the Spirit of the Lord to search our hearts as to what we can offer up as royal priests.

The cost will be great but the growth will be greater.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 19.8.16 | 

Author: Dr. John Yates

The Way

On the Journey with Jesus 4:

Introduction

The popular approach to the theme of being On the Journey with Jesus emphasises Christ as a loving companion and guide to me on my life journey.

Jesus is someone who listens to my prayers and satisfies my deepest needs.

This approach reflects the self-centeredness of our age.

The biblical truth about the human journey is that it not my journey with a place for Christ but Christ’s journey with a place for me.

Jesus is someone who answers our prayers and satisfies our deepest needs because his prayers and needs were first of all met by the Father.

John says this about Christ; “Jesus, knowing…that he had come from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3).

Jesus own personal journey was a trip from being with the Father in heaven entering into our world and returning back to the Father (cf. John 1:1, 18; Phil 2:5-11).

On our journey with Christ:

HE IS LEADING US OUT OF TIME INTO ETERNITY.

Whereas today’s popular spirituality has more to say about the trip than its destination, Jesus was focussed on the goal of his life journey as returning to the eternal glory of his Father (John 17:5).

All the works of Jesus, his saving presence and healing and delivering power were designed to illuminate the character of the Father and motivate men and women to join him in his journey back to the fullness of the Father’s love in heaven (John 5:19-20; 10:38; 14:11)

The Way to the Father

In words which are unpopular today Christ said, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

ONLY JESUS IS:
“THE WAY TO THE FATHER”, “THE TRUTH OF THE FATHER” and “THE LIFE OF THE FATHER”.
The song we heard from Keith Green (“You Are The One”) is an authentic expression of his own life journey. Green, who came to Christ from a background that mingled Judaism, Christian Science and hippy love, authentically testifies that every human being has been totally lost, repeatedly lied to and spiritually dead (Eph 2:1).

It is only Jesus who brings us complete guidance, absolute truth and eternal life by being the Way back to God. I was walking in the park the other day and I struck up a conversation with one of the “dog people”. After a while of sharing her many painful needs she said, “I am dying inside”. This lady was once a church-goer and Bible reader, she had no problem talking about Jesus, but when she kept talking about “God”, “God”, “God” I knew her great need for comfort and strength would only come when she joined with Jesus in his return to the Father. She was lost because she was Fatherless. With his sole desire to obey the Father and lead others to the Father Jesus is the Way. The paradox of the gospel is that for Jesus to put us on the Way he must lose his way.

Christ said he had come “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

To save us all and set us on the path to the Father Jesus needed to do more than mighty miracles and marvellous words.

He needed to take upon himself all our lostness and disorientation; this is the work of the cross.

Jesus’ terrible cry; ““My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34) is the crisis point of his human journey, and it is a crisis about where he is going.

Bearing all our sinful confusion Christ loses all consciousness of himself as the Son who is the Way to the Father, his life journey seems bereft of all purpose and identity (2 Cor 5:21).

But the climax of the cross is not lostness, when Jesus prays these words with his final breath we know he has recovered his place as the Way to the Father; ““Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).

The following resurrection and ascension of the Son back to the Father completes the journey he came to make on our behalf (John 20:17; Rom 1:4).

The claim that Christ is the Way to the Father is fiercely opposed by non-Christian spiritualities.

   HOW MANY WAYS   

People today love stories about self-discovery because that’s what they long for themselves.

Eat,_Pray,_Love_–_Elizabeth_Gilbert,_2007After a painful divorce, in 2006 Elizabeth Gilbert1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gilbert wrote her memoirs of a journey around the world called, “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia”2)http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/eat-pray-love/. It quickly sold 10 million copies was on New York Times best sellers list for nearly 4 years and became a motion picture. It was a great hit because it promised “the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.”

One-Way

As the word “Pray” in the title of her book indicates Gilbert is a very spiritual person, but her spirituality is an expression of the popular pluralism which says there are many ways to God.

John Yates

To illustrate this let me quote some words from an interview between Canon Frank Sheehan3)http://www.claremont.perth.anglican.org/community/clergy/canon-frank-sheehan/ the chaplain at Christ Church Grammar and a RC nun.

Sheehan cites her words with approval;

“There’s no one way (to spiritual realisation) as far as I am concerned. From the top of the mountain you can look down and see many paths (to the summit) it’s the journey that matters. I start with my own experience.”

Canon Frank Sheehan

This form of spirituality is totally back to front because it puts ‘ME’ rather than Jesus at the centre of everything.

The True journey of life is not my experience with a place for Jesus but Jesus’ experience with a place for me. Only as we share Jesus’ journey can he reveal to us our true identity.

What about this image of a spiritual mountain from whose summit we can see the many paths to God.

There is a spiritual mountain but only one person has ever reached its peak; only the resurrected Jesus could say, “‘I am ascending to my Father and…my God…’”” (John 20:17).

Founders of other religions point people to a “way”, perhaps in the Koran, or the noble eight fold path of the Buddha and so on; but only God’s only Son pronounced he was the Way to the Father (John 3:16).

The way to God is not an abstract theological discussion.

Debate has been raging recently in America where a lecturer in a Christian College (Wheaton) was stood down for stating that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God”. Christians and Muslims both believe that there is one Creator God who speaks through his prophets will raise the dead judge all people and send some to paradise and others to hell.

But do they worship the same God?

The Dome of Rock in Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa mosque) is the third holiest site in Islam, inscribed on its walls are words drawn from the Koran; “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God….So believe in God and His messengers, and say not ‘Three’ – Cease!…God is only One God.

Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son.” It makes no sense to say that the followers of a religion which denies that God is Father and Jesus is his Son worship the same Lord as Christians.

Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Way to the Father is not on the same journey as we are.
I-Am-the-Way-Truth-Life

Jesus warned about the popular wide and easy way that leads to destruction and the unpopular hard and narrow way that leads to life (Matt 7:13-14).

The apostles took Christ at his word.

When preaching to the followers of other faiths in Athens Paul explained why we must believe in Jesus as the Way to heaven; v.30“God overlooked people’s ignorance…in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. v.31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”” (Acts 17:30-31).

The stamp of divine approval on every aspect of the human journey is on the life of only one person, Jesus of Nazareth, only Christ so totally pleased the Father as to be raised from the dead into everlasting life. So far this sermon sounds very individualistic, but there are community dimensions to being on a journey with Jesus.

   AGREED   

There is a scene in the TV series The Tudors4)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tudors where King Henry VIII is standing in the grounds of one of his palaces and says to a companion, “Walk with me.” When the king says “Walk with me” we would expect every one of his subjects to obey him and allow him to set the tune of conversation on the journey.

Our King is Jesus and we should expect that Christians on their journey together with Christ would function as a tight knit community. Churches however are often known for power plays, internal politics and personality clashes.

The prophet Amos says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3).

Moving in the same direction is not a matter of agreeing about every point of theology, morality, ministry or liturgy; the non-negotiable point of agreement is mutual submission to the will of Christ.

His words are clear, “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matt 18:19).

If the members of a church are agreed in their submission to Christ his promise will be true in our experience, ““anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12).

If we are not seeing Christ’s works in our midst; healings, salvations, deliverance from demonic powers, it must be that we are not in close agreement in our journeying with Jesus.

I am reminded of a scene from a film where a group of warriors in scattered formation was approaching a rival troop and one by one the soldiers on the outside of the pack were being picked off by enemy arrows.

When the soldiers closed ranks and joined shields the arrows could not get through.

Spiritual warfare is like natural warfare. Paul exhorts the Church; “In all circumstances, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.” (Eph 6:16).

It’s time to take the shield of faith for others and clump together on the journey with Jesus recognising that our enemy is never another Christian but always the devil (Eph 6:12).

Early this morning the Lord started to speak to me about these things with some clarity.

There are two father figures in the Bible, God the true Father and the false father who is the devil (John 8:44.)

In the presence of the true Father these words come true “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col 3:13).

In the presence of the lying father (Satan) there is gossip, rumour, innuendo, accusation and condemnation which give birth to embarrassment, shame, fear, anxiety, a muted spirit, depression and confusion.

All these very earthly things paralyse the power of the presence of the kingdom of God (James 3:14-16).

Where the presence of the true Father is manifest from heaven there is always love, joy, peace, victory and boldness in the things of God (James 3:17-18; 1 John 5:4).

Week by week in our service we say together;

Send us, we pray, in the strength of this meal, to tell the Good News to neighbours and strangers with creative words and compassionate service, walking the way to Christ.

These are great words, but how many unchurched people are being drawn in to join us “walking the way to Christ”? 

As a total community we are struggling to walk closely together in spiritual fellowship because we have yet to learn the true meaning of “fellowship”.

The New Testament word for “fellowship” (koinonia) does not mean “sharing”, but “having a common share”.

The common share we have is not being of the same race, gender, social, educational or economic status, it is not being Australian or Anglican, it is not moral character, spiritual gifting or Bible knowledge, the one eternal thing we have in common is a joint share in the life of Christ (Rom 8:17).

The Christ in whom we share has travelled the human journey on our behalf and brought it to successful completion for us all by returning to the Father.

In Christ there are no spiritual superiors or inferiors.

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. (Rom 14:4).

Only in the light of this revelation of a God-given equality in Christ can believers stay close together on the rough road that leads to eternal life. If the journey is so difficult and so opposite to all our self-centred desires how do we get others to join us on the journey?

   TESTIMONY   

We must have confidence that at the end of the journey we will share in the everlasting joy of the Father; Hebrews exhorts us, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2).

Every person knows that their earthly journey will end in death; but then what?

In the last week the topic of life beyond death has come up with people repeatedly so it must be something the Lord wants to speak to us about.

The apostle Paul approached death with boldness and excitement; “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord… v.8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor 5:6, 8 cf. Phil 1:21-23).

It is not that Paul had a miserable life from which he wanted to escape, but the thrill of reaching the end of the journey by being with Jesus and his heavenly Father was overwhelming. This is our call too.

Our authority to speak about the journey of the Christian life to others, including going to heaven, flows from our own desire to depart from this life and be with Christ.

The goal of the spiritual journey is the key to every aspect of the journey.

But not everyone is on the same journey.

   CONCLUSION   

The Bible speaks of two eternal destinies at the end of life’s journey; the goats join the devil in hell and the sheep of Jesus share heaven with his Father

Matt 25:31-46.

Friends, when was the last time a neighbour, relative, workmate or friend said, “I want to go where you are going”?

At the level of our church, when was the last time a totally unchurched person asked to join with us on the Way?

To the degree that an individual or a congregation manifests the triumph of love over hostility, of Christ over Satan, of heaven over hell, to that degree people will join Jesus on the way to heaven and be added to the church (Acts 2:47; 1 John 3:8).

Tragically, Satan has successfully disabled the gifts and presence of God amongst us so we are not regularly seeing people turn to the Lord.

What then can we do?

It is time to take our eyes off earthly things/people and be united in pressing on “to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil 3:14).

No one can arrive at the destination where Christ is in heaven unless they have personally heard and responded to his call to receive him as Lord and obey him in whatever he says.

The human journey out of time into eternity is not about a personal path of self-discovery nor even about discovering who we are as St Mark’s/Church on the Rise; it is about the revelation of Jesus as the Way to the Father.

This must be our sole passion and this must be, for Christ’s sake, our united prayer.

Preached at St Mark’s 24th Jan 2016

References   [ + ]

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gilbert
2. http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/eat-pray-love/
3. http://www.claremont.perth.anglican.org/community/clergy/canon-frank-sheehan/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tudors

Obedience makes the difference

                                         Getting in the Inzone: tackling Auckland’s grammar zones                                       

BEVAN READ/ FAIRFAX NZ InZone founder Terrance Wallace is proud of the boys in his charge.

Obedience is EVERYTHING:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 (NKJV)

Frazer Strickland often asks himself where he would be now if he wasn’t living in a sprawling two-storey weatherboard villa with 55 other boys.

One thing the 18-year-old does know is he wouldn’t be completing his final year at Auckland Grammar School. “I would’ve dropped out,” he says.

Strickland is one of the students who live at InZone, a boarding hostel that takes Maori and Pacific Island teens and gives them a home and support inside the coveted boundaries of the Grammar school zone.

“I just know that through this place there’s been times when I’ve wanted to drop out and take the easy way out,” says Strickland. “But with having the boys around you and the mentors to support you – having that in place has kept me going for the five years here.”

Frazer Strickland, 18, and Royden Takataka, 15, say they don’t don’t know where they would be if InZone hadn’t given them an opportunity to pursue their education.

EMMA JONES Terrance Wallace, director of the InZone Project, gives credit to the kids in his care for their achievements.

He says he feels blessed to be there but also for having parents that wanted him to go. “We’re not really a wealthy family, but my parents have done a lot to get me here. I see my Dad working extra hours just so I get this opportunity, which is one of my main motivators to stay so I can pay them back one day.”

Strickland would not have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for one person – American Terrance Wallace.

About five years ago, Wallace was sitting in his office on a typically windy day in Chicago, contemplating how settled he was in his life. He’d bought a new house and was enjoying his job as a youth pastor. 

It was then that he was overcome by what could only be described as a higher calling.

“I felt God saying that I had to go to New Zealand,” he says. “So I looked at the globe in my office at this little bitty island and thought ‘heck I don’t even know how to swim!'”

Four weeks later, he was in New Zealand – even if he wasn’t quite sure why.”I knew God was telling me I needed to do it, but I didn’t know what.

“I was thinking ‘what the heck am I doing here – this is paradise, what could I do to help?'”

Five long weeks later, he finally had his answer. “I saw this news story on the TV about Maori and Pacific Island underachievement and not having the qualifications to go to university and I then started seeing other stories as well and I thought ‘I know, that’s where I need to help’.”

From that point, Wallace’s plans fell rapidly into place. He initially, planned to help in after-school programmes – something he had experience with back in the US – but was shocked to find that they didn’t exist in New Zealand schools. Dismayed, he embarked on a six-month tour of schools, predominantly in the Far North, he had identified as having “challenges”.

“The challenges that kids faced were not from the decile ranking of the school, although some schools didn’t have a lot of facilities and some of the teachers weren’t all that motivated,” he says. “But mainly the challenges those kids faced were the barriers in the community and at home.”

Wallace cites peer pressure, lack of parental support and severely stretched teachers as the main factors. “Some of the kids had great parents, who were working hard to provide for their kids but couldn’t provide extra tutorial support or monitor what they were getting up to. Then you have teachers trying to deliver a 40-minute curriculum but having to do 20 minutes of social service with kids.”

The impact, he says, was children falling far behind in their education and then not having the confidence to sit their exams. He feels that was only made worse by a dumbed-down curriculum, thanks to NCEA’s flexibility.

“Some educators aren’t looking at subjects that help the students get into university, only subjects that just make up credits, but have no value.”

The result of his research was the idea of giving Maori and Pacifica students access to the best schools, but with wrap-around support to ensure it worked. He had his mission, he had the confidence he could deliver it – he just needed the right school. Auckland Grammar was a good match: strong academically, good at sports, and a strong old boy’s network. He visited the then-headmaster, John Morris.

“I said ‘I’m Terrance and this is what I want to do’, to which he replied ‘how long have you been in the country and you’ve already figured out how to get around the law!’, but I had no clue about the zoning law, I just thought they needed to be close to the school.”

Grammar was already in the process of identifying ways to better engage the Maori and Pacific communities, so despite their scepticism at how new to the country Wallace was, they signed on. InZone was born.

“John Morris asked me at the start how many years it would take me to get it off the ground,” smiles Wallace. “And when I told him it would be in the next six months he said ‘I admire your ambition Mr Wallace but things don’t happen that quickly’, and I said ‘well, you just don’t know my God’.”

The InZone house opened six months later, in late 2011. Already, they’ve expanded from the original site on Owens Rd, in the wealthy suburb of Epsom, to a second house nearby for girls, who attend Epsom Girls Grammar. Students apply to be accepted into the house – a selection process Wallace describes as tough, but essential to producing the right mix of motivated students.

“Regardless of how well off a family is, parents are working longer hours nowadays and when kids get home from school they need that extra tutoring support, they need that confidence building, inspirational role models and many parents today can’t provide all that. On top of that the kids may be getting peer-pressured from others in the community.”

Wallace says they are able to instil the sort of discipline into the students’ lives outside of school that enables them to focus and achieve. For instance, mobile devices are taken away during study hours and again at bedtime, which is at 9.30pm. On the dot.

Wallace was alarmed at the large number of youth suicides in New Zealand. But he hopes to combat that by teaching students resilience.

“In the last three weeks, there have been three kids that have committed suicide that were friends of our boys and girls and they have been really impacted by it. It’s a constant reminder that there’s a vulnerability with kids that age.

“In the time I’ve been here never in my life have I known of so many young people choosing to take that route. I really think one reason is they don’t have that resilience to cope with things, they’re not necessarily taught it.”

Warren Cook, the resident Senior Housemaster, knows all too well about the pressures young people face: his own son is a student at InZone. He and his wife provide pastoral support to the boys around the clock.

“They come to my wife and I and we support them through the other stuff they’re going through,” Cook says. “The boys aren’t numbers here, we know every boy, their background, their family makeup, every issue they have – without having to grab a file.

“I’m the ‘grumpy one’, the boys call it: I do the growling, but my wife is definitely the ‘mum’ of the hostel. The boys will go to her and tell her some pretty deep stuff.”

Cook has a gleam in his eye when he tells of one of InZone’s success stories: a boy who has defied all odds to achieve remarkable feats.

“Auckland Grammar classes are ranked from A to P [with A being the brightest], but in his first year he was put in a newly created class – Q.”

Instead of being dissuaded by this, Cook says the boy “worked his butt off”. He made the 1st XV in 5th form. By 7th form he was shortlisted for head boy, and although he missed out he was made a senior prefect and also captain of the 1st XV. He was also named as one of the top 53 rugby players in the country, made the U19 Barbarians side and captained it.

Now, he’s applying to university.

“This was against all odds, at any stage he could’ve just pulled the pin, but he found the drive.”

If InZone wasn’t around, many of the students’ lives could have turned out differently.

 

And it’s Wallace’s passion that’s driven project, not that he’s takin the credit:  

“It’s the students. They are the authors of their own books – we just support them.”

January 24 2016 by Emma Jones | Source:  stuff.co.nz | Sunday Star Times | "Getting in the Inzone: tackling Auckland's grammar zones" | Stuff.co.nz

Think on this:

1 Samuel 15:22

22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to hearken than the fat of rams.

A Yielded Life

By Pastor Teresa Tay

yield_ahead_05aAbraham’s is one of the greatest stories of the Scripture. It is without doubt Abraham was a man who lived a life totally devoted and yielded to God.

God tested Abraham

Genesis 22:1-2 | – Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’. ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’

An Act of Absolute Obedience

v 3 | – Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 

I can imagine how agonizing this must be for Abraham. He and Sarah had waited 25 years for the promised son Isaac. God had promised Abraham that he would make him a great nation through Isaac. So what about the promise? Has God changed His mind? Yet, we are told in the bible, Abraham got up early the next morning. This means Abraham did not seem to have any hesitation or procrastination to obey God’s command. God has spoken and he decided he would obey.

Declarations of Ultimate Faith and Trust

v 4 – 5 | – On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’

v 7 – 8 | – Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son.’

These are astounding declarations of trust and faith in God. In spite of the difficult task ahead of Him, Abraham stood firm in his faith. He believed that he would return with Isaac to the waiting servants and somehow God will provide a solution.

From the two statements of Abraham we can see he has an unshakable faith. I believe his strong faith is based on two things:

A) God’s Promise

God has promised Abraham that his offspring will be like the dusts of the earth through Isaac. Though God’s command was difficult to understand, Abraham wholeheartedly believed that God has not changed his mind, his promise still stand. He must have reasoned that God could raise him up (as stated in Heb 11). Thus as he approached Moriah, he was counting on the faithfulness of God to deliver what He has promised.

B) God’s Provision

Abraham told Isaac ‘God will Provide’. Abraham’s obedience was grounded in the belief that God is able and He will provide and that things would turn out for good in the end.

Hudson Taylor used to say ‘God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.’
I believe this is Abraham’s faith. He heard the call of the Lord, He followed God’s order and he knew God would not let him down.

I believe obedience to God helps us to learn and grow in God more than any other way. Each time we obey, we are experience the deeper things of God, we will see more and more God’s power working in our lives and we see God’s sovereignty being manifested in our lives.

Obedience Releases The Power of God

v 9 – 12 | – when they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his on. But an angel of the lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ And God provided a ram as a burnt offering instead. 

v 15 | – The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’

Though Abraham had seen and experienced God in marvelous ways before, but this day he had a new encounter with God. He saw how solid God’s love is and so how reliable He is to keep His promise. His yielded life to God released the power of God upon him and the generations to come. What an honor that God would swear by His own name declaring His blessings on Abraham.

I believe Abraham has such strong faith in God because he fully understood the nature and character of God. He learned that not only is God an all-powerful God, but He is also a God that is all loving. I believe Abraham has such a knowledge of the immensity of God’s love that he believed God would never want to cause him harm but would always have his best interests at heart.

God has blessed Abraham tremendously.

But Abraham outstanding display of obedience shows that he’s not the man who loves God because he is blessed. He shows his love for God even in his hardest moment.

If we only love and worship God because of what he can give to us, then our relationship with Him can be viewed as nothing more than an investment proposition. We cannot really call that love. The real test of our love for Him is that, will we still be faithful when there’s no blessing, when there is pain and difficulty? This was the test for Abraham. Genesis 22 tells us Abraham passed the test. He loved and obeyed God not just when there was blessing, but even when there was pain and difficulty.

What God wants of us, is that we love him above all else no matter what.

This is His first commandment to us. The problem is that sometimes we seem to love the gifts more than the giver of the gifts or we seem to love the work of the Lord more than the Lord of the work.

Sometime ago I was away for 3 weeks, ministering in different places. In those 3 weeks, I averaged about 2-3 hours of sleep each night. Every day we had a very heavy program. Though the schedule was intense, I loved every minute of it. We saw God working miracles and people set free from depression and bondages. Due to the busy schedule, I didn’t have much time to pray as I normally would.

Zeal alone is not enough

One night I was lying in bed thinking of the wonderful day we have had and I said: Lord there is so much work that needs to be done, so many souls to be saved. Use me Lord to bring salvation. The Holy Spirit said to me: Always remember this, my first and foremost call for my people is not to save souls. That really shocked me. So I said, ‘Lord, isn’t this what you came to do, to die for all man?’ The Holy Spirit continued to say, ‘My first and foremost call to my people is to live a life that gives me pleasure, to worship me, to pray and seek my face. Out of that all these things will be added.’

I am ever more convinced that zeal alone is not enough to do the work of the Lord. Zeal, unaccompanied by God’s presence in our lives will only lead us to disappointments and frustrations. Zeal alone can become such a driving force in our lives that it can drive us to achieve goals and successes that may not be of God. We can be so consumed with the task that we may fail to see the progressive deterioration of our soul. Moses recognized the need to have God’s presence with Him when He was asked to deliver Israel from Egypt. He knew without God he would not succeed.

Prayer brings on the Presence of God

If the enemy can take us from our time of prayer with God, he will succeed in blocking the power of God from accompanying our work. We need God’s presence with us to give us the strength to fight the battle of the flesh, it gives us the ability to carry out His plans and purposes. The presence of the Lord empowers us, it makes us unshakable, unmovable. When we have such a strong foundation in Him, we will truly see and experience the greatness of God in all we do.

Without God Men Labour in Vain

In Genesis 11, we read the story of the Tower of Babel, where the people decided to build a tower with the aim to create a great name for themselves.

Gen 11: 4 | – Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

But the end of that story is chaos, confusion and the people were scattered.

Interestingly, in the next chapter, God said to Abraham, ‘I will make your name great.’ (Gen 12:2). Abraham’s name by itself means nothing. But Abraham’s name attached to God’s Name made his name great. He became known as Abraham the friend of God; Abraham the father of faith, Abraham the patriarch and father of nations. God was the one that made Him great because Abraham has yielded himself totally to God, he was found a trustworthy servant.

God the Builder and Architect

Hebrews 11: 9 | – By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land lie a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

God was the architect and builder in all things that Abraham did. He built his foundation in God alone.

Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb of God

After Abraham and his son had sacrificed the lamb that God provided:

Gen 22: 14 – so Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide.

He did not build a memoriam to remember what God has done by calling it “God provided”.

No, he called it, “God WILL provide”.

In doing so, Abraham was prophesying about God’s Only Son, Jesus, to come and offer Himself as a living sacrifice for all man. In sending His only Son to die on Calvary’s cross, God gave us the finest picture of His love for mankind.

May we give Jesus what is due to Him by yielding to Him as an act of thanksgiving, act of worship and sacrifice unto Him. Let us choose to walk in humility, have faith and obey Him no matter what. We will have the God encounter moments was we walk in submission to Him.

Great shall be our reward.