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Posts Tagged ‘Answers’

three-wise-men-star

A message shared at INFINITY Church.

www.infinitychurch.org

Matt 2: 1-12 AMP

2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king (Herod the Great), magi (wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and [anxiously] asked them where the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to be born. 5 They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; For from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod secretly sent for the magi and learned from them the [exact] time the star [had first] appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them [continually leading the way] until it came and stood over the place where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And after entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, after opening their treasure chests, they presented to Him gifts [fit for a king, gifts] of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

 

These three people who visited Jesus form an important part of the Christmas story. In various translations they are referred to as Kings, wise men, and astrologers. The only account of them is here in Matthew and the story represents an important aspect of the political landscape of the time. These facts help historians determine with some accuracy the year of Christ’s birth because of the events of the census, the rulership of Herod, and Quirinius and the death of Herod. Although the story does not mention the number of wise men, the tradition says three simply because of the number of gifts given. Pinpointing who these people were is some matter of conjecture, however the general thought is that they were from the East, they were astrologers and probably Persian authorities on all religious matters and responsible for the education of the Emperor to be. The fact that they were astrologers is important, as they saw a star in the East, where they came from, and the Star, referred to as the star of Bethlehem, was bright enough and obvious enough to cause them to travel a long way and also to see that the astrological event was of such significance that they presumed it heralded the birth if a king.

Jesus birth, being the incarnation of God in human form, and being born of a virgin, is an essential and important part of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind, and as such could not go unheralded by significant astrological and natural events that lay outside human invention and give weight to the significance of this event on the world stage. Also this is a story of political power as we see the lust for power in Herod so great that he is convinced that he must kill the new born king because he sees him as some kind of threat to his own reign of power.

The three gifts given by these wise men astrologers were Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These gifts are also significant and prophetic as to the destiny of Jesus. Gold speaks of virtue and is a symbol of Kingship. Frankincense speaks of prayer and is a symbol of deity because it is an incense used to create perfume or to burn as an incense in the Jewish places of worship. An interesting fact about the collection of sap from the trees that produce Frankincense is that the trees are considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so harsh and unforgiving that they sometimes grow out of solid rock. Myrrh speaks of suffering and is a symbol of death because Myrrh was used as an embalming agent as well as being used as an ingredient of incense and the holy anointing oil in the Jewish tabernacle.

This story is important in the biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus. It declares the cataclysmic events regarding the birth of the Son of God that could not be manmade. A star was seen in the East. It was bright enough and significant enough to cause these astrologers to travel a great distance and to arrive at an exact location that by all other means was insignificant (a baby lying in a manger). They assumed it was a sign of a king being born and with their gifts it represents a confirmation of who Jesus is and what He is.

The story has three important lessons for us. Firstly the observation of nature and the stars will always bring a revelation of the truth and the wonder of God’s reality.

Romans 1:20 (AMP) For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defence. Therefore see the creator in the world around you and worship Him.

Secondly, the political world is at war with God. Herod tried to kill Jesus. Always men who have a lust for power believe that they can move people and circumstances for their own gain to obtain or retain power. Jesus, the church and individual Christians will always be subject to persecution and danger because of the lust for power in the hearts of evil men. However God has a way to protect His own. See how easily He protected Jesus Joseph and Mary. Therefore be assured of God’s protection in your life.

Thirdly, God’s provision is available for those who serve and carry Jesus. Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous rampage. The cost of their trip and lifestyle for a few years in Egypt would have been covered by the gold given at this time. Therefore be confident in God’s provision for you as you serve Jesus, listen for His direction, and carry Jesus to the world.

How beautiful that these Christmas bible stories can have critical meaning and application for God’s work in our lives now. Enjoy your Christmas time and grow in wonder about God’s work in your life and in this world.

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Christmas MESSAGE     Christmas front

GOD INSIDE OF YOU – THE ANGEL COMES TO MARY

Luke 1:26-36

26 Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” 35 Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.

Let’s be honest everybody knows that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and it’s gotten all mixed up with the fables of St Nicolaus who turned into Santa Claus and became a red suited man who drives a sleigh through the air. It was obvious from the start right? – Not! No wonder some people think the Jesus part is a fable or fairy tale as well!! So let’s go back to the very beginning before all the add-ons and see where the truth started before all the junk was added.

By the way, the New Testament bible is the most accurate and clearly attested work of literature from the ancient world; in other words you can trust it!! (See http://pvc.podomatic.com/entry/2012-03-03T13_07_53-08_00)

Mary was probably about 16 years old, way too young to make decisions that will change the world forever, but that is the wonder of God that He chooses the things that are insignificant and unimportant to bring great influence demonstrating His mighty power. Mary was betrothed to Joseph which means their families had reached an agreement that they should be married at some time in the future; maybe a year or two later. The nature of betrothal was binding and should not be broken. To break it was the equivalent of divorce in our day.

Mary is suddenly confronted by an angel. This was not unknown in Jewish folk law, but nevertheless would have been very scary. Mary wonders about what this greeting means, “Favoured one”. You see Mary is a humble girl who isn’t full of herself. God uses humble people, He does not use proud people because they think of themselves as the answer. If I asked you, “Do you think you’re a humble person?” What would you say? If you said, “yes”, then you’re not humble. A humble person would say, “No or say, “Only God knows.”  Mary receives the news that she will be with child. This is both a wonder and terrifying at the same time. Mary sees the wonder of being chosen by God to carry the child who will be known as the saviour of the world, but, she is also terrified about becoming pregnant out of wedlock. She says, “I have not known a man.” She is not only confused about the mechanism of how this impregnation takes place, but she is fearful of the idea of becoming pregnant without any involvement with her betrothed. Being pregnant before marriage is probably adultery because the husband to be wasn’t involved. How do you explain that?

Mary is about to experience God on the inside. A life changing experience, and just like Mary, you too can have the true Christian experience of having Christ live within you. Becoming a Christian is experiencing being born again. It is Christ coming on the inside spiritually. (Gal 2:20 AMP) And like Mary, maybe for you having God on the inside is a wonder that you don’t really understand but also it might terrify you when you think about how others may take this news. For Mary it was God’s choosing, she didn’t choose to be the one and also for you it’s God’s choosing as well. If God is at work in your life, you will know about it because strange things begin to happen to gain your attention. But you realise that if you receive this God on the inside, it will change everything in your life, and you wonder if you are ready for all that?

Mary was young and innocent. She was open to God and humble, a perfect vessel for God to work a miracle within her. God spoke through an angel Gabriel and said to her “With God nothing is ever impossible.” Tonight it matters not how old you are, but it is important that you are open and humble for what God has chosen for your life. You may have had plans of what you wanted to do with your life. Grand plans to do and to be something that has inspired you, but God has an idea of what your life can become. Are you willing to look at that plan and choose to have God on the inside of your life? Really our lives are insignificant until we place them in God’s hands. But when we place our lives in God’s hands we become part of His eternal and very significant plan. God is real and you can experience the love and hope and power of Jesus Christ living within your life today by turning to Jesus now and leaving your sin behind and receiving Jesus.

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Did any heads turn when you used faith? Activate Faith

Did anyone gasp when you used faith?

Did anyone criticise you when you stepped out in faith?

Does this video make you squeamish?

The Story…

 

Matthew 14:22-30 (MSG)

Walking on the Water

22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

In this story Peter chooses to obey Jesus even though all the natural knowledge and instincts were telling him, “No don’t do it!”

Have you heard the voice of God? It’s that nagging feeling that you can’t get rid of. It’s like you conscience gnawing away at you on the inside except when it’s God’s voice there’s an urgency attached to it. You can ignore it for 30 years but it still feels more urgent every year.

Peter turned heads with his big day out. When was he last time people noticed your faith?

It’s vital to hear the voice of God

We get caught up in the hum drum of daily lives. God waits patiently by.   He has already spoken the command to us and we are preoccupied with the petty unimportant trivialities of life.

Are you ready to step out of the boat and activate your faith?

 

What has He called you to do?

MY STORY

When I was at Uni – I wanted to serve God. That was passion, commitment and dedication talking. But what was God saying? “Get a job!”

Can you hear God say what you don’t want to hear?

Then later when I’m settled into to a high paying job, God calls – “Now come and work for me” So now I ask God directly, What do you want me to do? He responds with these words etched into my heart; “What good is an arrow that never flies, what good is a wind that never blows, what good is a fire that never burns?”

God usually speaks in a way that you least expect and couldn’t make it up.

I was expecting a “Yes” or “Wait on me” or “Your time has not yet come”

Isn’t it time to activate your faith?

So many times we have heard it and we discount that word.

 

Obedience has a cost.

The disciples

Luk 5:10  And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon (Peter). And Jesus said to Simon, Have no fear; from now on you will be catching men!

Luk 5:11  And after they had run their boats on shore, they left everything and  joined Him as His disciples and sided with His party and accompanied Him.

MY STORY

Five years at Uni. I had a new job an Electrical Engineer paying well. My whole career was ahead of me. I came to work for a church in an unskilled position for a quarter of the pay. Then after about 6 months the church went through a financial crisis and my pay was halved. We learned faith. Is God our provider or not?

WHEN WILL YOU GET OUT OF THE BOAT AND OBEY GOD?

Fear will stop you obeying God.

Peter

Mat 14:26  They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

Mat 14:27  But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Mat 14:28  Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

The mind is often an adversary in your walk with God. It will think of a huge number of reasons why obeying God is a bad idea. Think of Peter’s dilemma. How experts would be happy to give you advice that walking on water is just impossible?

Fear will target your insecurity.

If I obey God how will I provide for myself?

Wrong – God is your provision.

Fear will target what others think.

If I obey God every one will think that I am a fanatic, unbalanced, crazy even!

Wrong – Psa_118:6  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? [AMP]

Ultimately, eternity will tell the story of your obedience.

In a million years from now – what will really be important to you?

What decisions will really impact eternity?

2Co 5:10  For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. (AMP)

I want to draw your attention to what God has called you to do. Not the day to day little acts of obedience, though they are important, but to what the big picture call is saying to you.

That has God asked of you – what has He called you to do?

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO ACTIVATE YOUR FAITH?

Maybe for you, activating your faith looks like this….

  1. You decide to go to Schoolies with Red Frogs this month.
  2. You decide to give that amount God put on your heart for Kingdom Advance Offering.
  3. You stand up in class and share your faith.
  4. You quit your job because you actually believe there’s something better for you.
  5. You decide to follow Jesus in spite of what your family and friends say or think.

Put aside fears, forget what others will say about you, look past the inconvenience of today and get out of the boat!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. When was the last time you were scared to act in faith?
  2. So you failed once, why wouldn’t you have another go?
  3. When was the time you stepped out in faith and you’re proud of it -tell your story.
  4. What is the faith challenge you face right now?
  5. When will you step out in faith?

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FAITH FOR FINANCES – #3AM Faith For Finances

We serve a great and a terrible God. What does that mean? He is very great, powerful and strong, and also He is not to be trifled with. We are utterly dependent on Him in every way. Men are proud when they think they can build a life without Him but suddenly when their health takes a setback they realise how powerless they truly are. Not even your next breath is guaranteed!

To become a Christian, we come at the very first place in our walk with God to His requirements of this amazing relationship with Him…

Exodus 20:3 (AMP) 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. Or Deut 6:5 AMP, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and souls and all that is within you.”

God wants to be the first place in your life, after all He gave us Jesus, His only Son to die for us – it’s mutual, right? His first commandment to man is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, not just part of it. The commandments go on…

Exodus 20:4-6 (AMP)

4 “You shall not make for yourself any idol, or any likeness (form, manifestation) of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth [as an object to worship]. 5 You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely mine], visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers on the children [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers], to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing graciousness and steadfast lovingkindness to thousands [of generations] of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

In the New Testament Jesus affirms this first place of all our affections and purpose when He states:

Matthew 22:34-37 (AMP)

34 Now when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced (muzzled) the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 One of them, a lawyer [an expert in Mosaic Law], asked Jesus a question, to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

And again Jesus says, Matthew 6:33(AMP)

33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

IS GOD FIRST IN YOUR LIFE?

Is He first in your time?

Is He first in your emotions?

Is He first in your money?

Imagine a wedding scene where the groom says in his vows, “I will love you almost as much as I love this other girl.” –  This is what we are saying when we love someone or something more than we love God.

The principle of “first” in the bible is a theme that illustrates God’s singlemindedness, His single focus of love toward us and His expectation of the same from us. Let’s look at some ways God uses the first to teach us something.

The firstborn

Exodus 13 (AMP)

13 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Sanctify to Me [that is, set apart for My purpose] every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of animal; it is Mine.”

The first fruits.

Leviticus 23:10(AMP)

10 “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am giving you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the [a]sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.

This verse shows us the promise and outcome attached to the first fruits giving.

Proverbs 3:9-10 (AMP)

9 Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your crops (income); 10 Then your barns will be abundantly filled And your vats will overflow with new wine.

The first City – Jericho is God’s not Israel’s.

Joshua 6:17-19 (AMP)

17 The city and everything that is in it shall be under the ban [that is, designated to be destroyed as a form of tribute] to the Lord; only Rahab the prostitute and all [the people] who are with her in her house shall [be allowed to] live, because she hid and protected the messengers (scouts) whom we sent. 18 But as for you, keep yourselves [away] from the things under the ban [which are to be destroyed], so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban [for personal gain], and put the camp of Israel under the ban (doomed to destruction), and bring disaster upon it. 19 All the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy (consecrated) to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

The first tenth

How do we put God first in our money? By giving Him the first tenth of our gross income. If God is truly first in our lives, then we make the decision to honour God before we pay for our own needs, or anything else. Giving God what’s left over when have paid all our bills means we are putting Him last. Paying God when we feel “led to do it” isn’t putting God first, it’s making our commitment and dedication to Him a thing based on feelings. Does your partner want your first affections or your second or sixth affections? Can you imagine God being satisfied with your second best? How do you show God your best, your first love? Do you finances not have everything to do with your heart? The bible says so… Matthew 6:21(AMP)

21 for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centres] will be also.

It’s hard to give for some people. Why? Because of a lack of faith. They wrongly assume, more for God (the church) means less for me. This completely ignores all of God’s promises to generously and abundantly meet your needs. (2 Cor 9:8; Phil 4:19, Rom 8:32)

God is looking at our hearts, and how can He tell if we have given our whole hearts to serve Him? He watches what we do. What has most value to us? What do we put most value on? Our life is displayed by how we spend our time, our emotions and our money.

Leviticus 27:30-33 (AMP)

30 ‘And all the tithe (tenth part) of the land, whether the seed of the land or the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem any part of his tithe, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 For every tithe of the herd or flock, whatever passes under the [shepherd’s] staff, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 The man is not to be concerned whether the animal is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it. But if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”

The principle of the tithe is that the first releases the rest.

Putting God first releases the provision of God – Matthew 6:33(AMP)

33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

Let’s talk motives.

Firstly thank you for being a giving and generous church. There are people who have been sacrificial givers and I know that they are like that because they are choosing to honour God. It is a matter of faith for them. If people are reluctant to give, I find that the main reason is worry that they will not have enough. So again faith is the issue. Trusting in God to provide for you is as much a part of salvation as trusting Him for your forgiveness of sins. (2 Cor 8:9 AMP)

My desire for you is that you are blessed, so I have no fears in asking you to be a tither and a giver of offerings. I have seen over the years people have experienced increase, promotions and favour from God when they put God first in their finances. You may think that you are struggling financially and cannot afford to give. In the USA today the average per head giving of Christians is currently 2.5%, yet during the great depression when food was hard to get and many had no work, the giving was 3.3% per head. It’s not our circumstances that regulate our giving, it is our faith. Don’t let fear, or wrong thinking rob you of a prosperous life. When we have faith and confidence in God we prosper. 3 John 2(AMP) 2 Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].

You can be comfortable in giving to your local church because…

  1. We have a strong and Godly vision. When you give it makes a difference.
  2. We are accountable to you through our finance committee.
  3. The church finances are audited yearly by an external auditor and the report presented to the church AGM.
  4. My motive in promoting generous giving is for your blessing and also to enable the vision God has given us to reach people with the gospel.
  5. You have pastors who are long term mature ministries with a good record of leadership, financial integrity and personal sacrifice.

Faith for finances. Put your trust in the Lord that he will provide for you and look after you. Test Him in this giving, He asks you to – Malachi 3:8-10 (AMP)

8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings [you have withheld]. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, this whole nation! 10 Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you [so great] a blessing until there is no more room to receive it.  

The storehouse (church) is the place for tithes, so that there’s meat in the storehouse, what meat is God referring to? The provision for the ministry so that the people will have access to God through the priesthood.

Have faith for finances, put God first in your finances. Trust that God will provide for you. Imagine the fruit of your giving in the future. Lives changed, people in heaven, communities impacted.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What would be your motivation to give to the Lord?
  2. What would be the kind of things that stop you giving?
  3. Review all these ideas and decide which of them are impacted by faith.
  4. In a million years from now what will matter the most to you?
  5. Does your giving today make a difference in eternity?

 

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Heroes of Faith Full

HEROES OF THE FAITH #2AM – OVERCOMING THE ODDS

 

 

Today I want to speak to you about this powerful truth – Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

Tough situations face people all day every day. We know we have life pretty good here in Australia as we live in a place where average household income is among the highest in the world, we do not experience war and displacement like some do at present and for us in Melbourne, it’s now four years in a row that our city has been ranked the most liveable city in the world! In contrast imagine the pain experienced by families fleeing Syria or those affected by war in Africa, poverty in South Sudan or many other places. We are blessed and secure, for sure.

However, that doesn’t mean every person experiences delight every day. There is pain in life for many. Challenges that make giving up seem attractive. One precious family in this church has five children and four of them are on the Autism spectrum. That’s a challenging life, and for that couple both mum and dad are full time carers for the family. These challenges are never chosen but thrust upon a person by life. It takes faith to choose to endure, to rejoice and to make a difference for others when you have your own mountain to climb.

Listen to this story of heartbreak in the bible:

2 Kings 4:1-7 (AMP) Now one of the wives of a man of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha [for help], saying “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant [reverently] feared the Lord; but the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves [in payment for a loan].” 2 Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have [of value] in the house?” She said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a [small] jar of [olive] oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go, borrow containers from all your neighbours, empty containers—and not just a few. 4 Then you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out [the oil you have] into all these containers, and you shall set aside each one when it is full.” 5 So she left him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing her the containers as she poured [the oil]. 6 When the containers were all full, she said to her son, “Bring me another container.” And he said to her, “There is not a one left.” Then the oil stopped [multiplying]. 7 Then she came and told the man of God. He said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

Disaster has struck! A young dad dies in his prime. The grief would be sky high! But there’s worse to come! He was in debt – up to the eyeballs! A young deeply religious family torn apart by loss and grief now facing removal of young boys as slaves. This woman was in a very desperate situation. Let’s look a bit deeper into this situation. This is Israel and there’s some pretty strong safeguards around people’s economic wellbeing here. Every seven years all debts are cancelled, people get to start over. More than that in Israel God commanded people to loan without charging interest to your brothers.  Being a son of the prophets meant that this man was supported by the religious community as a man of God, possibly even as an employee of Elisha himself. No doubt they would have experienced miracles of provision and seen God’s hand of supply often – yet for all this the man of God was in debt!

Perhaps some unwise decisions, perhaps some negative circumstances, perhaps the father was unfaithful to God in his administration of duties – we don’t know. What we do know is that this young wife is now in very deep trouble. When the odds are stacked against you, what do you do? You go to God! You go to the man of God. It would be so easy for this young widow to see God as the problem. She cries out to Elisha, “My husband is dead, you know he reverently feared the Lord.” In other words, Elisha, my husband should not be dead! He was a good man, more than that a godly man! My husband served you as a prophet and what good did it do him? God why did you take his life? Yes he borrowed but had he lived, he had a plan to repay over so many years. We had it all worked out!!

Life takes a turn and things change even when you are a believer, a person who trusts in God, yet events can change in your life in ways that you just were not prepared for.  You can get mad, you can tell God off, you can choose to run away; but in the end, your hope is in God. When the chips are down this verse holds me strong in faith: Romans 8:32 (AMP)

32 He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

There is not a few stories of a mother coming to God with a big ask. This young mother was in deep trouble and she went looking for the man of God – Elisha. If there was going to be a miracle it would come through the man of God. When your heart is breaking and there seems to be no answer, choose faith! When it seems like God doesn’t care, choose faith; or that things don’t make sense, choose faith! When the odds are stacked against you – choose faith!

This young mum came to Elisha and asked for help. He straight away asked her, “What do you have of value?”  There is always a seed in your house somewhere that God can multiply. Find the seed and give it to God. She knew there was some oil, it wasn’t much but God didn’t need a lot, just something that could be placed in His hands for multiplication. The oil multiplied and the miracle only stopped when they ran out of vessels to pour it into. The answer came because this young mum chose to hang onto God. She was a hero of the faith.

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

I want to share with you the story of William Carey who took the gospel to India.

In the late 1700’s William Carey a Baptist minister in Northamptonshire in England got a vision to take the gospel to the remote parts of the earth and was the founder of the Baptist Missionary Society. He took many years to convince church leaders that people in lands like India could even be saved, such was the ignorance of the population at that time they were seen by some as less than human and not capable for being saved.  In 1800 Carey set sail for India and only made it to the Isle of White, where the captain refused to take him further. Later a Dutch captain was persuaded to take him the rest of the way. After a few years there Carey’s wife went insane and one of his children died. He had great trouble converting Hindus to the gospel. Even after preaching five nights a week for many years not a single man was converted. He had one local man who had been converted to Christianity and assisted Carey in translating the bible into Sanskrit. After seven years of working with Carey and seeing no converts this Indian convert backslid and turned away from God. Later floods twice destroyed his plantation that Carey managed so that he could raise funds for the work there, things seemed very very bleak indeed. Listen to what Carey says when he writes back to the church leaders in England about his plight, “Though my disappointments may yet be 1000 time greater, yet I have this hope – the goodness and the faithfulness of God.”

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

 When things get you down, choose faith. When you want to give up, choose faith. When it seems like nothing makes sense anymore, chose faith. Heroes of the faith choose faith when the odds are stacked against them. This church is full of people who chose faith. Their stories are theirs to tell. When you need inspiration to overcome great difficulties read about the heroes of faith in the bible and in church history. When you need inspiration to keep going look around you. There’s people right here who have overcome.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Would you agree that everyone suffers a set back at some time in their life and feels like giving up?
  2. Do you think its strange that we live in such a great nation and have so much and yet we all still experience challenging times?
  3. Compare your own challenges with those of say a refugee from Syria trying to flee war.
  4. How do you know God cares about you when your stuck in an impossible situation?
  5. What would help you to make a decision to never give up but keep pressing into God?

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Heroes of Faith Middle

The theme this month is Heroes of the Faith. We all need heroes. People, both men and women, who inspire us and show us the way so we can be great for God. This world needs you to be a hero to others. Your life is already inspiring and there is room for more. This month we want to inspire you with stories from God’s word and also from contemporary leaders who have overcome obstacles and achieved greatness with their lives so that you can feel that strength on the inside of your heart to rise up and overcome and do great things using your faith. Today being Father’s Day we want to inspire our fathers and celebrate heroes among us.

Everyone has a father, but not everyone has a hero. A hero is someone, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. My Dad was only around for the first seven years of my life. He passed away very young as a result of a heart condition. In terms of being a hero, what I love about my dad is that he was a home handyman type of guy and he had a workshop. When he died it became my workshop! I became a home handyman kind of guy too. My greatest achievement was building our own home in 1989 in Brisbane. Watch this Hero Dad video with me for a moment.

I hope your dad was your hero; but if he wasn’t, I hope you had a hero who inspired you to be great. Today I want to inspire every male in the place to be a hero for their kids and also for someone else’s kids. My youngest son encouraged me recently. He is the assistant pastor at the Liberty INC church in Epping. The church was showing a men’s ministry video called Wild at Heart and lots of men shared about their lives and the things they had to overcome, often because of a father who was absent or violent or abusive. My son said, “I felt I couldn’t relate to these stories because all through my childhood I can’t remember one time of being abused, neglected or being unloved. Thanks for being a good dad to me.” One day someone is going to come to you and say thanks for being my hero. Are you ready to make the changes so that will happen?

You’re a hero when you choose to follow Jesus Christ.

In a day when it’s not cool or popular to follow Jesus (was it ever?) for a man to stand up for Christ and be counted in the face of ridicule, persecution or violence; if you make a stand for Jesus and cheerfully and boldly proclaim your faith, you are an inspiration to many young people. It’s not easy to follow Jesus and seeing you do it with joy and showing how you accept the consequences with courage and expect God to bless you for it is heroic. Talk about the time you had to make your stand and how you felt. Share the story because they will be there too if they haven’t already. There’s a lot to be said for sitting at the dinner table and telling those stories as father or grandfather.

You’re a hero when you love your wife unconditionally.

When you love your wife, you’re showing a great example of love for your kids and for others. It’s seeing the example that teaches the best. In this world there are a lot of messed up people. So often the cause is absent or bad behaving dads. When a messed up person becomes a father themselves, they haven’t got a role model to go by. They don’t know how to love unconditionally or how to parent with courage, and so the cycle begins again and this time it’s compounded. When a man decides to break the mould and act out the values that they didn’t experience – they are a hero. When I marry people as a wedding celebrant, I see the sparkle in their eyes. That passion of love and devotion that makes that day so special. Later it’s tested and the culture of this world says, “It didn’t work, move on, find someone else.” God calls us husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the church. That’s a self-sacrificing love. When you decide you’re not living for yourself but for others and it starts with your wife and kids then you’re showing Christ-like love and kids will the better for it. For every man there are temptations to live for yourself. There’s temptations to be unfaithful, temptations to avoid responsibility, temptations to live selfish. But every time there is someone watching. Someone will be impacted when we behave badly.

You’re a hero when you banish violence from your life.

A real man never commits, condones or remains silent about violence against women. There is so much aggression in our society and some men feel that you’re not a man if you don’t use your fists to make your point.  But real men have self-control, they don’t act out the violence they see in video games and movies, they figured out that world is different from their world. You’re a hero if you show your kids and others that your frustrations and troubles have non violent solutions. If you’re all worked up and have to let off steam – do a hundred push-ups, or go for a run. Take the pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.  Never fall for the new age, pop culture, neo-psychology statement that smacking kids is violence. If you love your kids, then as they are growing up a smack is delivering your child from a future that has a lot more pain than the small smack just delivered. Make sure you never discipline in anger.

You’re a hero when you live and teach servanthood.

The me generation failed. The decade of greed delivered pain. Even the ungodly world system now champions volunteerism, crowd funding and making a difference for others. You’re a hero when you volunteer at church, serve your community, mow your neighbour’s lawn, give generously to others. There’s so many in need in this world and we can live with the attitude that we can life better for others no matter how much we have or what we have been through. The courage that faith adds is powerful. Luke 6:35-36 (MSG) “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

Guys we need you to stand up, be a hero for your kids and for other kids. We need you to live this big life of loving and serving others. It’s not easy, but if you follow Jesus wholeheartedly you can do it with strength and courage. It’s not a weight to say that someone is counting on you – it’s a privilege. Leadership begins with the everyday man like you and me as we make great decisions in each day to follow Jesus; to live without fear. 1 Corinthians 11:1(NLT)  And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Maybe your father was not your hero, but is there something you can thank him for?
  2. If you find it hard to relate to your natural father, does that make it hard to relate to your heavenly father?
  3. If you hold any resentment against your natural father can you make a decision to forgive him?
  4. Do you think of yourself as a hero for others to learn from?
  5. How does your life/behaviour affect others?

 

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FAITH PRAYS # 5 PMFaith Prays-final-02

Sometimes in life things go wrong.

There’s a lot of difference between a hiccup and a disaster. A hiccup might be, you go out to get in the car and you have a flat tire. Or maybe you arrive at your fav café and there’s no tables left.

Then there’s some moderately annoying situations like, girls, you arrive at a high class function and someone else is wearing your dress! Or guys, you go to the fridge to get that last piece of pizza left over from last night to have for breakfast and your mum fed it to the dog. – Devastation!

But sometimes the news is all bad and at that moment you feel powerless.

How do you pray?

How do you pray when the doctor says, I have some bad news for you?

How do you pray when your life long partner says I’m leaving you?

How do you pray when your loved one has passed away?

How do you pray when you’re facing financial disaster?

When you have faith – you pray.

Whether you have faith or not your feelings are the same.

You feel powerless and you feel as though God has abandoned you. Your experience of loss impacts your emotions greatly.

When King David went through that time he said: Ps 10:1 AMP

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself, [veiling Your eyes] in times of trouble (distress and desperation)?

Whether we are a small child or a grown man, when things get really bad what we truly want is someone to come and put their arms around us and tell us it’s going to be alright.

When you have those feelings, in spite of those feelings, you pray and you push into God. When you have faith you pray because you know God cares for you. He has the biggest arms to wrap around you.

This is how King David prays in times of distress. Ps 18:1-6 AMP

To the Chief Musician. [A Psalm] of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:

1 I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord, my Strength.

2 The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.

3 I will call upon the Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.

4 The cords or bands of death surrounded me, and the streams of ungodliness and the torrents of ruin terrified me.

5 The cords of Sheol (the place of the dead) surrounded me; the snares of death confronted and came upon me.

6 In my distress [when seemingly closed in] I called upon the Lord and cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple (heavenly dwelling place), and my cry came before Him, into His [very] ears.

All the same feelings are there. The “torrents of ruin terrified me” but he prays nevertheless. He knows who his God is. How does he know who God is? He has read the word and his heart has embraced the one who was there to rescue Noah, was there to rescue Abraham, was there to rescue Joseph. David trusted in God and he went through trials and tests to prove the faithfulness of God.

1 Samuel 17:33-37 AMP

33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth.

34 And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep. And when there came a lion or again a bear and took a lamb out of the flock,

35 I went out after it and smote it and delivered the lamb out of its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and smote it and killed it.

36 Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God!

37 David said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and the Lord be with you!

In life when you go through small troubles, it’s a time to learn faith and see God’s hand deliver you and be there for you. Then later when bigger troubles hit you, you are ready, you know your God is for you and will deliver you.

When you go through deep waters you pray because God cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 AMP

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

Have you been through deep waters? Your emotions may have been going crazy, but what was coming out of your mouth? Maybe you start out saying like David… Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself, [veiling Your eyes] in times of trouble (distress and desperation)? But very quickly, if you are a person of faith you start saying, The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.

God wants to show Himself strong on your behalf, but He needs you to walk in faith in order to make a way for Him to move. In this story a father has a disaster on his hands because his son is possessed by an evil spirit, and he cries out to Jesus for help.

Mark 9:22-24 AMP

22 And it has often thrown him both into fire and into water, intending to kill him. But if You can do anything, do have pity on us and help us.

23 And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes!

24 At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith!

Faith is the constant expectation that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do. Faith is confidence in God and trust that He is good.

When things go wrong, you pray, and you trust that God is there for you and He cares for you. If God be for you who can be against you?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. When things go wrong, your emotions can go go crazy – is this normal?

2.  Can you pray when your emotions are going crazy with worry and stress?

3. What do you think God is feeling when you are in distress?

4. It may feel like God has abandoned you but what is the real picture?

5. Make this prayer something you can find easily when you need it… Psalm 61:2

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