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Posts Tagged ‘Belief’

hearts-on-fire-intercessory-prayer

One day many years ago I prayed for a young man called Ross who had decided to move back to Townsville from Brisbane. I could see in him such potential. I prayed for him and I asked God if He would bring him back to Brisbane to serve in our church again. He did come back and He made a great impact for God in our movement. What might have happened if I never prayed that prayer?

Luke 18:1 (AMP) Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart,

Prayer is the power of God in your mouth. Prayer is your lifeline to heaven. Every Christian believer has a relationship with the God of the impossible. If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to His children. You and I are not standing afar off asking a reticent God for His favour. We are His adopted children. We are His offspring the apple of His eye and joint heirs with Jesus. Will He not answer our prayers when we call upon Him?

Some Christians may be put off prayer because they think it’s boring or they find no answers. But the truth is they haven’t entered into the deep relationship that comes with knowing Jesus intimately. How can I not converse with the one I love? It’s not at first about getting something from God but it’s all about relationship with Him.

To be born again is to be in relationship with Him; we are now sons and daughters of the most high God. Now once you have relationship, then His heart is transferred to you and you have now got His desires and His passion for this world. To make His love known and to bring His kingdom to earth. Now we become His co-labourers and engaged in the work of the kingdom – to be about our Father’s business.

So why pray? – It’s life giving, it’s effective and it changes your future for the better.

If there is one thing I want you to know from this message today it is this – You have the power to change the world through your prayer.

1 Samuel 1:1-19 (ESV)

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.[a] 6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

 12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

 19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.

Here is a prayer that changed the world! Hannah prays for a son and his future is to be a prophet in Israel. Samuel was one of the greatest men of God in the Old Testament. He guided Israel and established the reign of King David and walked in honour and integrity all the days of his life. Will your prayers change the world?

YES THEY WILL!         YES THEY WILL!       YES THEY WILL!

Why should we pray? It’s life giving, it’s effective and it changes your future for the better. Prayer invades everything we do. Here in this Church we have a high value on prayer. We see prayer requests answered all the time. Last week we prayed for a man with a bad back and this week he told us how his back is completely healed and the physio gave him a good report. Lots of prayer requests go up on our facebook page every week and people are praying for one another. Prayer takes place in our small groups. Believers pray for each other, for the loved ones we know who need a miracle and for the church, the government and world affairs.

We meet for prayer in the Kid Town room every weekday morning from 6-7 am. Everyone is welcome. This has been our practice for about 20 years. That’s a lot of prayers. Look at the prayer discipleship that has occurred through this time as we have mentored and developed people who came to pray and seek God with us.

At HUB leaders meeting we pray, teach on prayer and form a teamwork that is powerful. At certain times we call the church together to pray as a whole. In this corporate prayer environment we storm the heavens and we make ground for the Kingdom. Such a prayer tie will take place today right after lunch at 12.30-1.30 here in the Auditorium.

Let’s go back to 1 Samuel and learn about prayer…

Hannah had a good husband. She was blessed. She lived in a healthy environment; but she had no kids! It’s normal to want to have children. In this time when Hannah lived, a woman’s worth was enhanced by her ability to bear children for her husband. Although so many things were good in her life there was one thing that was not good. A big gap existed in her life experience and she was not happy! She wanted to reproduce. As believers we want to reproduce too! We want to see others come to faith. Yet countless Christian believers live their whole life and never lead another person to Christ. And yet someone led them to Christ or at least prayed for them. They long to reproduce but nothing is happening. The one big difference between them and Hannah is that Hannah prayed!

It gets worse! She was taunted by the other wife, Peninnah. As if it wasn’t hard enough being childless, now she must endure ridicule from fatso! But actually who’s the problem here? Look at verse six, the Lord had closed her womb! Thanks a lot God!! As is life isn’t hard enough here, you have to come along and close my womb for fun so can watch the Hannah and fatso show for a few laughs!

However, God had a plan. He always does, and we, of course, are NOT smarter than God and we don’t know everything. He needed a breakthrough in Israel. He needed a good man to bring the God life back to this backslidden nation. But where would he find a good man? It had to be birthed in passion and desire.

Why don’t you be honest – your life is not that bad! There’s a lot of things working for you. You live in the best nation on earth, you live in the most liveable city on the planet, voted for 5 years running! Furthermore for most of us count our blessings in our health and our family life. BUT… there’s something in your world not working for you. There’s something that you long for and it’s not just a selfish request – this is something really important. Have you considered two things?

  1. God created the problem.
  2. In solving it there’s a much bigger purpose behind it.

God wants your heart first, He wants to hear from you. He has a covenant with you, you’re His son, daughter, agent, and soldier. But there something bigger at stake too. There’s purpose in this prayer request you’re going to make. It had wider implications. If God is behind this lack, this need, this gap in your life – then He has plans. HE WANTS YOUR ATTENTION!! Are you going to pray or whinge?

Hannah prayed!

Here’s seven things about Hannah’s prayer you must know…

  1. Hannah goes to pray (Vs 9) she is compelled by passion. Prayer isn’t a ritual or a duty but it is fuelled by passion.
  2. Did you know that desire is the volume knob of prayer? Making a loud noise doesn’t impress God but intense desire breaks through every barrier. Mark 11:24 (ESV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. This word “ask” means to crave for, to desire. It has a strong sense of meaning. It’s not casual, it means to make a demand!
  3. Hannah makes a vow. This is not a bargain. This is not Hannah saying, “If you do this I will do this.” This is surrender! Hannah is saying, this is going to cost me something. I’m committed to the outcome. I’m willing to pay the price, and all I get, it’s not for me, I acknowledge it all belongs to you. In the Kingdom, if we can get this… God wants the first part. First commandment, First love. First tenth of your income. Seek first the kingdom and then all these things shall be added. Are you getting it?
  4. Hannah was misunderstood. Eli thought she was drunk! Passionate pray-ers will be misunderstood. Just pray quietly people will say to you. Don’t go overboard. Pray with dignity and properness, pray with decorum! Religious prayers, words without meaning, dribble without passion never moved the hand of God. Hannah prayed with bitterness of soul. Look at Verse 10 and 16 “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. All along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Sounds like a deep prayer that’s meant for Gods ears not people.
  5. Hannah found agreement. Eli listened and he heard her cry and his immediate response was, “Lord grant this prayer.” There is power in agreement. When you can find someone to listen then share that big passion and pray together.
  6. Hannah found immediate peace. That is an evidence of faith. Hannah was greatly distressed but after the prayer with Eli she had peace.
  7. Hannah received her answer. Nine months later she had a son and called him Samuel and He was mighty for God. She gave him up to the Lord to serve in the house of God but soon God gave her five other children after that, three sons and two daughters. (! Sam 2:21)

Now it’s your turn to pray. What do you need changed? Will you pray with passion? Will you come into agreement? Will you know when you have broken through? It’s time to change our City and our Nation. The need is great and the power is in your mouth. Let’s pray with power confidence and passion and se God’s hand move through us. If there is one thing I would say to do from this message it would be – change one thing this week to give yourself more to prayer.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Are you a “pray as you go” person or do you need to get alone with God behind closed doors?
  2. Tell us about your prayer journey.
  3. How can we know how much prayer is enough prayer?
  4. What makes you want to pray?
  5. What stops you praying?

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jesus on crossDEEPER THINGS – THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

Sunday 20th March 2016 AM service.

Leading up to Easter the message of the cross is vital to every person both Christian and non-Christian alike. What is the cross all about? What is the message or the preaching of the cross telling me?

1 Corinthians 1:18 (AMP)

For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.

All over the world in almost every place the symbol of the cross is universal in its recognition as the symbol of Christianity. Many people have a cross around their necks, others tattooed on their bodies, and still others have a form of it on their walls or carved into woodwork.

The cross is an instrument of death. It is a cruel and grotesque example of torturous, grizzly and bloody scene of death that the Romans used extensively, but was invented by the Persians around 500 BC. The torturous death by crucifixion was such a despised form of cruelty that usually only slaves were crucified and not Roman citizens unless they had committed serious crimes against the state such as high treason.

The scene of the crucifixion of Jesus was a problem for the early church because it showed a picture of the central figure of the faith being the subject of the most humiliating and degrading death. Cicero for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”  How could someone honour and revere Jesus after such a humiliating death? How can a Jew or Gentile, who both have cultural reasons for rejecting Jesus, accept that He is one to be followed, worshipped and adored after that kind of grizzly end?

We see Paul’s response to this objection shows in the verse above as he declares that the preaching of the cross has a double meaning. For those who are perishing through lack of revelation, it is foolishness, but to those who have been enlightened through revelation of the necessity of the cross, it is a message of life. He found it such a compelling subject that he wrote, “for I made the decision to know nothing [that is, to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while] among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified [and the meaning of His redemptive, substitutionary death and His resurrection]. I Cor 2:2 AMP

Even today the scene of the cross, so bloody and so cruel forces people to see Jesus as the victim of mindless cruelty; perhaps a case of a righteous man struggling against oppression. The Jesus that most people want to follow is the one that was kind to others, spoke of love and accepted the unacceptable. Yet the modern world equally has a difficulty with accepting the death of one so right and so good. Why was this necessary? Is it just another case of shooting the messenger? While the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, little is understood of its true meaning as part of God’s plan in rescuing mankind and setting them free from the crushing effects of sin on the individual and on the society.

What is the cross to you?  Is it any more than the way Jesus died?

God our heavenly father planned for the crucifixion of Jesus long ago. The Old Testament reference in Deut 21:22 AMP refers to anyone that is hung upon a tree is cursed, is picked up by Paul in Galatians when he recalls that “Christ purchased our freedom and redeemed us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs [crucified] on a tree (cross)Gal 3:13 AMP

From the beginning Jesus death was the plan of God. There had to be the shedding of blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This is so because God says the life is in the blood, be it animal or man. Jesus could not have been strangled, or met with any death other than by the loss of blood.

Jesus death was a substitutionary death because He was the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world.  This title of Jesus was clear to any Jew and now to any student of the bible that the lamb was a substitute in the exodus story. Either the lamb died and its blood was placed over the door of the home or the angel of death came and killed the first born. Then right through the Old Testament a lamb was an animal of sacrifice whose blood was shed to atone for the sins of the bearer of the lamb.

And so Jesus died and shed His blood, but not just any death, He died in a way that’s described as the worst of the worst. Is was so bad that good roman citizens wouldn’t discuss it because it was so barbaric. It was for the torture and annihilation of slaves and only the very worst of criminals.  It was a humiliating death because the subject is stripped naked and the death is long and extremely painful. Jesus was humiliated – He was brought low as Isaiah says “despised and rejected by men.” And took upon Himself the form of a servant. Jesus who was the king, the creator of the universe was humbled so totally and so completely at the cross because there was no limits to His love, His gift His giving of Himself. This level of suffering and humiliation corresponds to the depth of depravity of mankind in rebellion against God.(Galli 2016) It shows just how bad things really are with us. Can we behold the cross and not say, “He did it for me”?

The cross is confronting. Can anyone of us dare say there’s nothing wrong with mankind? Can we dare say there’s only love and kindness in the world? Are we so proud and blinded to reality that we say like some prideful individuals, “There’s plenty of evil men in the world, but I am not one of them!”  Could any one of us open all our lives and our inner thoughts to the whole world for scrutiny and not be ashamed of some part of it? The bible is brief but kind when it says, “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.”

When we behold the cross and see it for what it truly is. The sentence of death that we all deserve and by His great love, it is the death of Jesus as my substitute that means I can go free; fully pardoned because my sins have been punished and paid for in Jesus. If I believe in Jesus Christ and humble my heart in repentance, I can receive forgiveness and be saved from my sins.

When we see the cross, it moves us, and we long to sing as Isaac Watts wrote in 1707:

   When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

   Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

   See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

   Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

But the cross is so much more than atonement and forgiveness of sin as wonderful as that is. The cross is the power over sin. It is the victory God gave us to conquer sin. Not just a constant washing away of sins, but the doing away with the body of sin, the destruction of the inner nature of sin leaving us with a totally new nature. Becoming a new creation.

Let’s look carefully at Romans 6:6-13 AMP

6 We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. 7 For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.

 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, 9 because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin [ending its power and paying the sinner’s debt] once and for all; and the life that He lives, He lives to [glorify] God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. 11 Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts and passions.

What does the cross mean to you? It means the forgiveness of sin and pardon from the just penalty due to me. It is also the instrument of the death of my old life, by which I leave behind my sinful ways and desires and so begin a new life. The cross gives me power over sin and it is the doorway to a new kind of life now living as a new creation becoming more like Jesus every day.

We pray that God gives us a revelation of the cross and all that it means. We pray that we understand our total lostness without Christ. We pray that we understand how broken and how far from God each and every person is without Christ. We pray that we all come to understand that the gift of love God gave us in sending His own Son to the cross is mind-blowing and so significant and shows us His amazing love. We pray that we all fully enter into that revelation that the old life we had before we met Jesus was rubbish and God crucified it in Jesus on the same cross so that we might die to sin and not live any longer in it.

In this week leading up to Easter, Read Romans 6, pray on it and ask for revelation; and tell others how great and how vast is the love God has for them and how they can have a new life in Jesus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why do you think the preaching of the cross is foolishness to people who are not believers?
  2. what are two important points you got from this message?
  3. Is you old life dead now or does it still try and rise from the dead to control you?
  4. How do we “reckon ourselves dead” as Romans 6:11 says?
  5. How would you pray about the cross when applying this truth of overcoming sin through the cross?

GALLI, M 2016, ‘WHY THE CROSS’, Christianity Today, 60, 2, pp. 34-39, Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 March 2016.

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GOING DEEPER SUNDAY 6TH MARCH 2016 AMThe Deeper Things-06

FAITH SHARING – THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND – TELL YOUR STORY

This month being the month in which we enjoy Easter, we will be preparing ourselves for the greatest opportunity of the year in terms of reaching out to the people we love with the greatest message of all – the gospel.

I remember the very first time I told my story, we used to call it the testimony, about how Jesus came into my life. I was twenty years of age, I had become a Christian about three months earlier and I was attending with Chris at a youth group activity one Saturday night. We were at a farm north of Brisbane and in a barn filled with hay bales everyone was sitting on a pile of hay and we had some musical items and a few of these testimonies. I got up as nervous as anything and told my story about my life and how Jesus had become my Lord and saviour.

What’s your Story? What’s your testimony? When you get to your UC group this month I want you to share your story with your group. So what makes up a God story or a testimony? That’s what this message is all about.

Let’s read this short passage: Matt 3:1-2 ESV

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament Prophets. He came preaching and preparing the way for Jesus to come. As he finished his course Jesus began His course. John the Baptist said “I must decrease and He must increase.”  Which, by the way, is how we yearn to live. At this dawn of a new era, the beginning of the New Testament, it was a time of fulfilment of all that God had planned since the beginning of time. A plan set in place before the foundations of the world and necessitated by the fall and calamity of Adam who chose to disobey God. It was the beginning of the revealing of the magnificent generous and abundant showing forth of the grace of God, His unmerited love and favour to all mankind.

John’s main message was the Kingdom is at hand! What is he saying? The kingdom, the rule or control of God is near, its close by, it is nigh. He meant it is near in time and near in proximity. His kingdom which means His ultimate benevolent rulership and control are about to invade our lives. This wasn’t a coup d’état against mankind to rule over Him against his will but it was an overthrow of satan’s power and his menacing kingdom to release the captives held prisoner since the days of the Garden of Eden. This was the emancipation proclamation for all mankind. This was the day of His power to set the captives free to give you and me the life liberty and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death –this is the Good News – this is the Gospel!

The “kingdom of Heaven is at hand” means the very best news for everyone who hears it. It means not that some unknown force is taking over your life, but it means you can be set free and prison doors are about to swing open. I told my story of how my life was going nowhere and was messed up by alcohol and wrong decisions, how I had no purpose; but then Jesus came into my life and He gave me life, hope and freedom; a message of His unending love came to my heart and I understood He died for me and gave His life so that my sins could be forgiven. Now I wanted to love Him and serve Him forever.

The “Kingdom is at hand” is evidenced in Jesus description of what that looks like later in Luke 4:18 ESV

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

My story is how Jesus came into my life and brought good news and set me free, showed me I was no longer captive, blind or oppressed. When this Kingdom comes it is often evidenced by physical healing, it is shown through deliverance from the prison of fear or bitterness or anger. It is clear through the lifting of oppression of many kinds.

Your God story or testimony will be a version of the verse John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. In other words your story is sharing the good news that the thief, the devil, messed up your life through your choices to sin and brought all kinds of described problems but Jesus came and set you free by believing in His gospel and surrendering your life to him that resulted in this abundant life you now have.

Heaven is real folks. Hell is real too. That’s what this book is all about. The very clear message of the magnificence of heaven and the totally overwhelming torment of hell for eternity can be such a motivator for us, but what Jesus asked us to share is the good news. The good news is the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed. This is the best news ever, tell your story of how life is different for you now. Tell how you got healed, tell how depression left you and how your bitter and withered heart was set free and renewed by the love of God. Tell the good news. We have the best news in the world, we have the most exciting life available. We have the joy of being set free from condemnation, set free from sin, and given abundant new life.

Let’s be really clear about this choice. Heaven is real, hell is real, and there is no other place people go when they die. There is no such thing as reincarnation.

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. There is no such thing as purgatory. This was invented by the Catholic Church and is not mentioned in scripture. It is a denial of the finished work of Christ on the cross completely atoning for our sins. There is no such thing as “soul sleep” where the souls of those who have died are in some kind of suspended animation, “asleep” until the coming of the Lord. The scriptures again are clear as Paul states 2 Corinthians 5:8 (ESV) Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Many Christians actually believe that people who die without Christ will be given some second chance after death. But no such second chance exists. Mark 16:16 (ESV) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. A still much wider held belief is that good people will go to heaven so there’s no need to preach to most people because they are good enough to get into heaven as they are. Every Christian needs to know the Roman Road. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. These two verses show that every single person has committed sin and the only result of that is judgement. So without Jesus – everyone is going to hell. So everyone needs to hear the gospel and everyone needs to repent and turn to Jesus.

What about other religions. Aren’t there many roads to heaven? NO. Listen to Jesus words, John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Also Acts 4:12 (ESV) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Where we fail is we assume no one wants to hear the gospel. But what they don’t want is religion. What they don’t want is another yolk, another thing they have to do. People are looking for answers to their problems. The good news is Jesus is the answer.  Once you hear the good news the response is repent which simply means change your mind. You’ve been trying to work it all out for yourself all your life –how’s that working for you? Change your mind, let God in. Let Him take over, let His kingdom rule and reign in your life, breaking the power of sin and death and bringing to you abundant life and liberty. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Let me share my story with you – it’s a story of new life of liberty and joy in meeting Jesus. Tell everyone your story. Get good at it. Do it often, and make your testimony into short and long versions for elevator pitches and for long train rides.

Let’s prepare for Easter – you don’t need a special invitation you just need the address of the church and tell your story.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How long is it since you shared your testimony with someone who isn’t a Christian yet?
  2. What are the main elements of your testimony?
  3. Can you share a short and along version of your testimony? – do a short one now.
  4. Do you know anyone who believes in purgatory or soul sleep, or good people go to heaven (without Jesus)?
  5. What’s the address of your church and the meeting times for Easter?

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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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FAITH ACTIVATION   #1AM Activate Faith

This year we have been sharing about faith the whole year. I hope it has been a year of growth for you. Have you noticed that your faith is growing? Have you activated your faith? How do you actually tell if your faith is activated?

Remember the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water? I hope that sometimes you feel like Peter as he stepped out onto the water that day. The feeling of sheer panic, exhilaration and bold courage all mixed in together that makes you feel truly alive!!!!!!

That’s stepping out in faith and activating your faith. Maybe for you it looks like speaking up boldly and sharing your faith in the office where you work even though you are fearful of repercussions. Maybe for you it’s choosing to be a giver even when money is tight because you have a confidence that God will supply all your needs.

Here’s a story about faith activation.

Mark 2:1-5 ESV

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus seeing their faith…

Did you know God sees everything? He’s what’s called Omnipresent. He’s everywhere. He’s watching over you all the time. There’s never a moment in your life where God is not present with you in reality. God is never far away.

“Jesus seeing their faith” – faith is something you can see!!!

CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR FAITH? – How would they see it?

Is your faith activated?

About four years ago Chris and I decided to go to the gym. We did this because wanted to be healthy, to be fit and to not loose muscle mass as we age. We have been going an average of 3 times a week for four years. See Tas for evidence. Tas sees all!!! If I said I want to be fit, but then never went to the gym, then I would just be full of hot air!! There would be no evidence that I really want to be fit. But if you see me physically present at the gym then you know I actually believe that I want to get fit.

Do you get it?

My actions show what I truly believe, better than what I say.

The truth is I also want to be “faith-fit” I want to develop my faith so that it grows and gets “pecs”! But can I get more faith, or grow in faith, just by talking about it? No, I must do something to show my faith.

Do you believe that the bible is divinely inspired and the infallible word of God? If the answer is, yes, and you actually believe that, then you would demonstrate that by reading the bible lots! So your record of bible reading is the evidence of how much you believe that it’s the word of life and how hungry you are to receive that life.

All throughout your life you are acting and behaving in ways that demonstrate what you really believe deep down on the inside. What you really have as values in your heart will be shown by your actions.

So if you want to be faith fit, what does that look like?

Maybe it would look like this…

  1. You would be active in inviting people to one of the 5 services for Christmas in December.
  2. You will come to the Kingdom Advance dinner this Saturday night and sow financially into the missions projects of our church.
  3. You are praying for the people you love around you.
  4. You head off to your UC group because you believe you have a place to love give and serve one another there.

When you have faith it shows!

James 2:14-26 ESV

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Faith without works is dead – it’s all talk!!

Abraham showed by his amazing actions that he truly believed what God had spoken to him. He believed that his son would be the beginning of countless offspring. So when God asked him to sacrifice his son, he just believed that somehow he would live! He would either be raised or God would let him live.

THAT’S EXTREME FAITH – BETTER MAKE SURE YOU HEARD FROM GOD!

Abraham could have said I believe in God and what He said, but that would not have been sufficient. God said, “Show me.”

Rahab the harlot lived in the wall if the city of Jericho. She heard about Israel and decided “I know whose side I want to be on!” and she hid the spies that came to scout the land. They made her a promise. When we come back with our army we will spare you and anyone in your family (same promise today) if you hang a scarlet thread out the window to indicate that this is where you live. She obeyed – she showed her faith by her works.

Some years ago Chris and I met a great young man in one of the restaurants here at Plenty Valley Town Centre. His name was Nick. We shared our faith with him. Then over the years we kept on bumping into him often in the shopping centre. He had changed jobs but we saw him every six months or so and had a short chat.

Then about two weeks ago we bumped into him again this time shopping in Woolworths. He had a story to tell about how he felt God was trying to reach out to him. I shared with him that Jesus loved him and wanted to reach into his life and gave him a card with the church address. Then only last Thursday he showed up at church unannounced. (Often I’m not here on a Thursday) and he asked me an important question. Within 15 minutes he had invited Jesus into his heart.

Faith without works is dead. If you believe that Jesus died for each person you meet, then you take action and share with them the good news.

So let’s have a passion to get fit!! Faith fit!! You can get faith fit by…

  1. Reading your bible regularly.
  2. Listening to the podcasts of all the faith messages.
  3. Decide to step out of the boat and act in faith.

Here’s a way to take action to show your growing faith….

  1. Invite people to come this Christmas to one of the services where we have a special Christmas presentation every Sunday morning and night in December.
  2. Give financially to the Kingdom Advance Dinner this Saturday night.
  3. If you haven’t done so yet – give your life to Christ.

May each of us experience faith activation now and on into the future.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever had that feeling that Peter might have had when he tried to step out of the boat and walk on the water? A kind of feeling of sheer panic, exhilaration and bold courage all mixed in together that makes you feel truly alive? If so what was your challenge?
  2. What holds you back to step out in faith?
  3. Are there some areas of life where you have faith and other areas where you find it hard to have faith?
  4. How do you decide to step out in faith?
  5. In what ways can you build and increase your 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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