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jesus-on-the-cross

An encounter with Jesus will change your life.

Right now at this Easter time is the best time to encounter the Son of God.

Good Friday marks the day when Jesus died on the cross. He gave His life up willingly so that He could show His love for you. His death was planned for ages past by God the Father as judgement of sin. Jesus, who was completely innocent willingly gave up His life to accept the penalty of sins committed by you and I and all mankind.

Let’s look at three different people who encountered Jesus.

The cynical thief.

Luke 23:39 NLT

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

One of the thieves who was crucified beside Jesus encountered Jesus but was not changed. One can hardly imagine the agony of the cross and to think that anyone could bear to speak through their pain is amazing. This man has some knowledge of Jesus and the claim that He was the messiah. Obviously not a believer and yet being at the very point of death he decides that Jesus can offer him nothing and scoffs at His claim to be the messiah and save anyone even Himself.

The penitent thief

Luke 23:40-43 NLT

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

While on the cross Jesus prays for those who crucified Him, Forgive them Father.” Being in agony Jesus cried out for others. The criminals who were crucified one either side of Him were there by divine appointment. Both deserving of their death, yet the timing and the place of their death is a story set for you and I to read and see the two ways in which people respond to the death of Jesus. How do you respond to the death of Jesus Christ?

This man is impacted by an encounter with Jesus because he has heard about Jesus and he has heard the claims made about Him, that He was the Messiah and that He had healed people and performed miracles. He has seen no miracles and seen nothing supernatural but he believes in who Jesus is on the testimony of others.

The gospel is preached everywhere all over the world today. It is a testimony of who Jesus is and what He has done. If you choose to believe in the gospel then you will have an encounter with Jesus just as this criminal did. It was a life changing encounter and ushered him into heaven despite a life of crime.

The Roman Soldier

Matt 45:54 NLT

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

 47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

 50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

 54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

This man was impacted by an encounter with Jesus because of the supernatural nature of the episode. As this soldier, a leader of 100 Roman soldiers, watched the death of Jesus he saw darkness fall across the land from noon until 3pm, an earthquake took place and rocks slit apart all around them. All that they saw at the time led them to make the conclusion that “This man truly was the Son of God.”

There are plenty of miracles taking place around here. People are receiving healings, prayers are answered and lives changed as people reach out to God. If you want to see the supernatural evidence of Jesus Christ, just come along to your local church and see the hand of God touching lives.

Whether you believe in Jesus because of the the gospel story or whether you believe because you have seen the power of God at work, either way let your choice be to encounter Jesus this Easter.  This is a life changing encounter. You will never be the same and you will be grateful throughout all of eternity for the day you decided to believe in Jesus Christ.

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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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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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Faith For Finances

As Christian believers we live by faith every day. The life of faith is a life in relationship with God through Jesus and trusting Him for all things in your life.

We cannot be saved without faith. Faith is a trust in God that He will do what He has promised, to forgive your sins as you turn to Him in repentance. We need faith to receive anything from God, healing, peace, provision or anything.

This preaching series is aimed at inspiring you to have faith for financial blessing and increase so that you can have your own needs met and give generously to others for kingdom purpose.

Today I want to speak about this important question: Does God want you to be rich?

First of all how do we define rich?

Being rich is relevant to where you live, The poverty line in Australia is just under $1000 per week for a couple with two kids. Yet in much of the underdeveloped world 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day.

Compared to the rest of the world anyone in Australia is rich, however housing in Australia can be a minimum of $500 a week if you’re in Sydney or $200 if you live in a country town. So you need hundreds of dollars a week just to survive in this rich modern country.

So does God want you rich? If being rich means you have more than the say 90% of the rest, then God has some warnings for the rich, and it’s all about where you place your trust.

1 Tim 6:6-10; 17-19 (AMP)

6 But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]. 10 For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows.

17 As for the rich in this present world, instruct them not to be conceited and arrogant, nor to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share [with others]. 19 In this way storing up for themselves the enduring riches of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Verse 17 instructs the rich to have hope in God and not in their riches. This is vital for the Christian. If your confidence is in what you own, then it’s not in God. Faith for finances begins with a trust that God is your source; that He will provide for you. Your trust and your confidence is in God. This is what God wants for you. He wants to be the source of all your life, joy, peace, salvation and provision. When we lean on something else, when we trust in something else then this is really idolatry

Being rich is really all about comparison. We compare with others and we compare with ourselves in the past. Probably no one here today would consider themselves rich, but compared with people in other nations we are rich and compared with our parent’s generation we are rich. Probably a better way of looking at this issue is to say, have I got enough to do God’s will and prosper?

Will God bless you with all you need to serve Him? And the answer is a resounding YES!

Let’s look at the Character of God the father first.

God is merciful, Luke 6:36 (AMP) Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

God is generous, 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?

God is abundant. 2 Cor 9:8 (AMP)

And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.

He wants to do good to His children.

Matthew 7:11(AMP)

11 If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.

The church in the west has struggled with this idea for the last century.

The church has held doctrines of poverty and prosperity

Through the centuries sections of the Catholic Church have taken vows of poverty believing that being poor made you closer to God. The limitations of this doctrine are that the church has no resources to bring relief and healing to those who are poor.

The prosperity doctrine of the church primarily in the west and mostly in USA says that God wants to bring the wealth of the wicked into the hands of the just and having faith means you will be very prosperous. The limitations of this doctrine is that greed has a part to play and some people will desire riches for their own pleasures apart from God’s purpose.

Both of these extremes are unhealthy. Instead God promises that He will abundantly supply all your needs and that you will have an excess for all charitable purposes.

Philippians 4:19 (AMP)

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

2 Cor 9:8 (AMP)

8 And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.

You and I need faith to believe for and receive blessing from God. What are you called to do for God? Then God will supply. I am called to build a significant church in Melbourne and plant churches throughout Melbourne and Victoria. Many will choose to join me in that great vision and together we will pray for provision and receive all that is necessary. There will always be great needs and we are called to give and make a difference. A walk of faith is not saying I can’t afford to give, a walk of faith is asking God, “What do you want me to give?” and the believing that God will supply you bread for eating and seed for sowing.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Can you share a story of God’s miraculous provision in your life?
  2. We are called to live by faith, what does that look like in terms of provision and money?
  3. Is giving necessary for a Christian who lives by faith?
  4. Should we give according to feelings or according to principle?
  5. Should we believe for more so we can do more for God?

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