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God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne. Ps 47:8 NLTSmall Nation Changing

We are part of a great movement of churches called International Network of Churches. Originally named Christian Outreach Centre, our movement began in 1974 with the church located West End in Brisbane. The founder, Clark Taylor was an unlikely choice as God’s choices often are. He was a cattle drover from the Northern Territory who got saved at a Billy Graham Crusade in Brisbane in 1959. As the church began, there was explosive growth, with many salvations and miracles of healing and very soon passionate men put their hand up to plant churches and so the one became many as new churches sprung up around QLD and NSW.

Pretty soon people wanted to travel overseas to plant churches and COC began in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand, New Guinea and further afield. As courageous men and women travelled to start churches in each nation there was a strong belief that the purpose was nation changing.

As I joined the church staff in 1980 as a youth leader, we were starting to expand across Australia and the vision was clear. AUSTRALIA FOR CHRIST.

We have a belief that God can change a whole nation. The gospel is the power of God that changes lives and impacts nations. The church is the plan of God to liberate the broken humanity and bring nations back to God. Jesus made the mandate clear when He said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I was dramatically affected by the vision. I wanted to lay my life down for the vision of Australia For Christ. How was I so moved? It was revelation, I had a clear understanding of how lost people are. We studied the bible and it was clear that without Jesus as saviour people were headed for hell, a Christless eternity of torment and destruction that lasts for ever and ever. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for what God had done for me in rescuing me from sin and death. I was saved and going to heaven now and what right did I have to enjoy such a huge and free gift while not having a care about those perishing around me. I was like Paul who said, “I feel myself under a sort of universal obligation, I owe something to all men, from cultured Greek to ignorant savage. That is why I want, as far as my ability will carry me, to preach the Gospel to you who live in Rome as well.” Rom 1:14 Phillips.

I was and am possessed by this vision. I love my country and I am passionate to see it come to Christ. I am believing and working as hard as I can to reach as many people as I can with the unmatchable message of His love and forgiveness so that far less Australians end up in hell than would have if I had not lived. I have been serving full time for 35 years yet I believe we have only just begun. My vision is to see 100 churches in Victoria and Tasmania before I retire or pass on. Is there anyone who would dare to believe with me?

God can change nations. O nations of the world, recognize the Lord; recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong. Ps 96:7 NLT

In Nepal, INC has a leader Ps Raju & Samita Sundas, who has been mightily used by God to plant churches and work alongside the new president of Nepal in assisting to form the constitution. He has started schools and a relief agency and has one of the largest churches in the nation. See here for more information.

Can God change nations? It’s easy to answer that question, if he can create the heavens and the earth, of course he can change nations. The important question is will He use us to change our nation?

Through Moses God changed the nation of Egypt and set Israel free to go out from under slavery and enter the Promised Land. Through Daniel God changed the heart of King Darius to follow The One True God and forsake their idols.  God says, “I have a plan for the whole earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations.” Is 14:26 NLT.  God has changed nations in the modern era. In 1904 revival broke out in Wales and the whole nation was dramatically affected. Since the 1920’s South Korea has experienced a growth in Christianity from negligible levels in 1945 to over 30% of the population now born again. In Africa and South America national revival has created nations that have large percentages of born again Christians as their population.

Watch the hand of God on his servant Daniel.

Daniel 6:1-10  NLT

6 Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. 2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. 3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.

4 Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. 5 So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”

6 So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! 7 We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. 8 And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” 9 So King Darius signed the law.

10 But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.

Daniel was old, he was faithful, he was stable, he had a real faith in God and a trust that God was in control. He prayed. People were out to get him because God was with him to such an extent that they were exceedingly jealous.

When the King proclaimed a decree that no man shall pray to any God for 30 days, Daniel did not fear, he continued to pray. Sure enough the enemies were watching and waiting, and they saw him pray. He didn’t hide away he opened the window towards Jerusalem. Consequently the governors brought him before the King, this man has broken your commandment O King! He must be thrown to the lions. Reluctantly the king followed through on his own decree. But he agonized over the fate of Daniel and fasted all night. In the morning the king rushed down to the lion’s den to see if Daniel had survived. He must have had some expectation. He’s alive!

Daniel’s God answered the king’s prayer, now the king was convinced, there is a God in heaven and he is Daniel’s God. Here’s his conclusion.

Daniel 6:25-27  NLT

25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you!

26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end.

27 He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

God changed a nation through one man. God can change Australia. Will you believe? If you believe, will you pray? If you believe, will you serve the Lord?

If the vision for Australia for Christ has touched your heart, then respond by doing these things:

  1. Live wholeheartedly for God
  2. Be in church every week and participate in UC groups.
  3. Give generously to the vision.
  4. Share your faith with everyone around you.
  5. Consider the call of God on your life to serve in the ministry. Some are called to plant churches, some to assist pastors as support ministries.
  6. Be trained for the ministry in HUB, church training, and Bible College.

To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. Rev 2:26

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Discuss how grateful you are for your own salvation.

2. What can you believe for in terms of the growth of Christianity in Australia

3.  Do you have a vision for Australia to come to Christ?

4. How can you contribute to seeing this nation find Jesus Christ?

5.  Are you called to the ministry (part time or full time)?

 

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FAITH SPEAKS  #4AMFaith speaks WEB

Ever felt like you’re surrounded by the enemy? Ever felt like the odds are stacked against you? How do you handle it? Do you throw a tantrum? Do you sulk? Do you go into depression? Do you seek comfort in substances?

  • Maybe your boss just called you into his office and gave you the spiel, “I hate to do this but I have you let you go”
  • Maybe that lump you thought was nothing turns out to be cancer.
  • Maybe you find a packet of Crystal-Meth in your teenager’s bedroom.
  • Or maybe you are hit with the tsunami of negative situations when all three of these type of things hit you at once!

Life overwhelms us all at times. You face big problems or you face a problem for a very long time. King David spoke about these times when he said, “When my heart is overwhelmed, I go to the rock that is higher than I.” If you don’t have Jesus then you go to anywhere you can find comfort, some go to booze, some go to the pokies, some go to porn, some go to medication; but Jesus says, “Come to me, I will give you rest.” He says, “Roll your cares upon Me, for I care for you.

Faith speaks! What comes out of your mouth will help you or hinder you. If you are a person of faith, this is what will happen to you. Bad news arrives. You react as any human would through disbelief, shock, panic, fear and disappointment. Then after a short period of time you get into gear and you say, “God is able! He will help me. I believe that the Lord is on my side!” Your situation will turn around after some time. It may be a short time or a long time. Through the experience you will be a better stronger person.

When you are not a person of faith this is what will happen to you. You get bad news. You react like any other human would through disbelief, shock, panic, fear and disappointment. You then spiral down wards into the blame game, whose fault is this anyway? Or you may throw a tantrum and let anger take over hurting people with your words or fists, or punching walls or other defenceless objects. Then you may seek to justify your problems by giving yourself permission to act outside your own values by gambling, drinking or taking substances. Your end position is less than your starting point.

Bible stories are great. They make for great reading, but also we can learn from them. God placed them in the bible for us. They are true stories and they are written down to help us, to teach us how to live and how God works with people. 1 Corinthians 10:11(AMP)

11 Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period).

Let’s take a look at this great story. 2 Chronicles 20: 1-6; 15-24

2 Chronicles 20:1-6  (NLT)

20 After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.)

3 Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. 4 So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.

5 Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. 6 He prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!

15-24 15 He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.

20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”

22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. 23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.

Think about King Jehoshaphat in this story. He is surrounded! He is hopelessly outnumbered. In verse 3 it says he is terrified! Three armies surround him and his nation of Judah.

It’s not fair!

He has a go at God here. He says in verse 10-11, Hey God you didn’t let us invade these nations when Israel journeyed through their lands, now they have come back to attack us. It’s not fair!! In life we are very often in the situation where it doesn’t seem fair. Strangely it doesn’t seem to make any difference to anyone or anything that we point that out!!

The King’s reaction

The king reacts really well. He goes straight to God in prayer. He says it’s time to fast and seek God. He reminds God of His promises.

The man of God speaks.

In verse 14-15 the prophet stands up to speak. It’s OK he says, God is with us! Don’t be afraid. The battle is the Lord’s. Go down to them. That’s fine for you to say but we could get killed!! How do you react to the words of the man of God?

The King’s reaction again.

King Jehoshaphat bows down, the people fell down and worshipped, the Levites (priesthood) praised the Lord. That’s a faith response. What is your response to the words from the man of God? Don’t go asking the unbelievers for advice. They have no idea how God can work in a situation. They will take you down the pub, that’s no answer.

When the man of God speaks you have a choice. Will you believe? The King gives some great advice. 2 Chron 20:20 (NLT) Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

So here’s the plan, the army marches out and the singers go in the front. Anyone feeling vulnerable? This is what they sang, Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever! That is faith speaking right there! The result was the Lord set ambushments against the three invading armies.

It matters what comes out of your mouth. This is not conventional warfare. Faith speaks! What does faith say?

  1. Thanks God!
  2. God is good!
  3. He is able!

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, what is coming out of your mouth?

We all face tough times, but God is with us and how we respond to troubles will block or enable faith to make a way for God to help us. God reacts to faith, not to complaining. Our task this year is to grow in faith so that means we will need to learn how to respond in faith. That is why we need to learn that FAITH SPEAKS!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Describe the feeling of being overwhelmed.

2. How does God feel when you are overwhelmed?

3. When circumstances are against you what usually come out of your mouth?

4. How does a person of faith respond to troubled times?

5. Do you need to feel faith to start speaking words of faith?

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SUNDAY MESSAGE 21ST JUNE 2105 AM

Faith speaks WEBImagine the beginning of time when God created the heavens and the earth.

Gen 1:1 NLT In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

6 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” 7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. 8 God called the space “sky.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.

 24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.”

As you can see when God speaks things happen!

God creates things simply by speaking, He operates in faith voicing His will and purpose and His words convey the power necessary to create what He speaks. In Hebrews this verse describes who Jesus is.

Heb 1:3 AMP He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high,

Now consider that God has created man to be like Himself, made a little lower than the angels (Ps 8:5) yet truly a little lower than God. Man made a spirit being after the image and likeness of God and called to Subdue, replenish the earth and fill it. (Gen 1:28) Are we not to create also by our words? Has God not spoken to us about using our words to create and change things?

Consider Jesus commands to His disciples. Mark 11:23 AMP Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.

The power of your words is through a believing heart. Rom 10:9-10 ESV  9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

And again Jesus says, for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 amp)

I think perhaps we have failed to realise the power in our words as born again believers. The Church is the assembly of those Born again, born of the incorruptible seed of the word of God, born from above, who are called now to subdue fill the earth and conquer it. Jesus gave us the example when He spoke to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch forth your hand.” The command to do the impossible, followed by a miracle. Later Peter James and John enter into the same experience saying to the cripple at the gate Beautiful in Acts 3, “Rise up and walk!” And he did!

Just simply saying these words conveyed the power necessary to create a miracle. However, not words only but a believing heart expressed through those words.

In fact, now that we are born again and living in right relationship with God, He expects of us to live at a higher level of revelation and power. Jesus had high expectations of His disciples as He instructs them, “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12 amp)

As believers we pray now not so much prayers of supplication, “God will you do this and that.” But prayers of declaration, “Be healed, in Jesus Name.” If we are to do the works of Jesus and greater then we will need to do those works as He did them by speaking the miracle, by declaring the outcome we want to see because we have faith in our heart and we speak words of creative power from our mouth.

One of my earliest examples of using this kind of praying was as a new Christian I drove past an old picture theatre every day on my way to Uni and this theatre showed pornographic movies. As a new Christian I was incensed that this filth was pouring into the community so I cursed the picture theatre and a few days later it burned to the ground in the middle of the night with no loss of life. I was shocked by the power of my words and a bit scared about the responsibility of how we should use this power.

Mostly we use this power to bring about healing, life and answers. There are thousands of cases of where we have prayed and spoken words of faith to command sickness to leave, pain to go, tumours to disappear and have seen many many healing miracles. We declare answers for peoples’ lives as they experience trouble and difficulties. When a couple faces marriage stress we pray life and peace over that marriage, when a person goes though financial hardship we declare the blessing of God over them. Answers come through the application of God’s word through a faith filled heart.

If you want to know whether you have a faith filled heart, just listen to what comes out of your mouth. If the words coming out of your mouth are filled with despair and negativity, then fear and doubt are filling your heart, but if the words coming out of your mouth are speaking the answer and speaking the miracle outcome you seek then you know your faith is at work. Don’t wait for some feeling of faith to roll up and bite you! You may feel overwhelmed at the start when things go wrong, but faith doesn’t look at feelings and circumstances, faith looks at what God’s word says. We must emulate God in calling those things that are not as though they already are. (Rom 4:17)

You can pray reactive prayers that address problems that arise, but are we praying prayers of declaration that are aimed at creating a better future for us and for God’s purpose. Add to you prayer life, after praying for the miracles to overcome present problems, the declaration of the better future that you want to see.

Right now in this church we need to see an increase in financial flow. So this is what I pray: The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favour) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquillity of heart and life continually). And they shall put My name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:24-27 AMP)

Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me! And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:10 AMP)

And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. (Psalm 1:3 AMP)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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FAITH PRAYS # 5 PMFaith Prays-final-02

Sometimes in life things go wrong.

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

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

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

How do you pray?

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

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

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

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

When you have faith – you pray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 17:33-37 AMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Peter 5:7 AMP

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

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

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

Mark 9:22-24 AMP

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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FAITH PRAYS #4 AMFaith Prays-final-02

Acts 2:1-13  MESSAGE BIBLE

A Sound Like a Strong Wind

2 1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene; Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; Even Cretans and Arabs! “They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Today is Pentecost Sunday, what does that mean? That means it is the day of the year when we celebrate the day of Pentecost when the early church was baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost was 50 days after Passover which is our Easter time.

If you have faith then you will pray. AS Jesus departed the earth physically he left his disciples with one instruction, “stay here in Jerusalem until you are filled with power form the Holy Spirit.” They waited in the upper room, about 120 of them. They began to pray and wait on God. Just think what that must have been like. They experienced the trauma of watching the cruel death of Jesus on the cross, the elation of his resurrection and then 40 days of teaching about the kingdom of God. The bible says nothing about that 40 days of teaching. What did he speak about? We don’t know but this one thing I know it would have been inspiring!!! So they were now in the upper room praying for 10 days.

Could you pray for 10 days? After the roller coast ride of the last six weeks it was probably hard to concentrate. Perhaps it was a time of reflection and considering what the rest of their lives would be like.  The next few years were going to be intense, life changing and world changing.

What they didn’t have but they desperately needed was the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes they had spent three and a half years with Jesus, witnessed thousands of miracles and seen the dead raised over and over again, yet Jesus was very clear, “Don’t leave Jerusalem until you are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.”  We cannot do Gods will and God’s work if we don’t have God’s power. In fact you were designed to have God’s power resident in you.

Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit was with them and would be in them. This was to take place after the resurrection.

Christianity without being filled with the Holy Spirit is hard work. We are meant to live Spirit filled lives, thoroughly filled and flooded with God himself. If Jesus warned His disciples not to leave without it, and think what kind of preparation they had; then all the more we should need this.

How do I know if I have been filled? It’s an experience. You will know for sure if you have received this power. It’s power!

Can I be filled and not speak in tongues. Yes, tongues is the overflow. It is the one sure sign that you have been filled. If you don’t want tongues, ask yourself why? Sometimes I have met Christians who have a take it or leave it attitude about tongues and often that is because they tried to receive it and nothing happened and so now they are resigned to life without it.

Paul said I speak in tongues more than you all. Seems like it was high value to the greatest apostle of all, so it will be high value for me. Being a Pentecostal isn’t just that I speak with tongues, it is that I have a spirit led life. What are the marks of a spirit led life?

  1. I love prayer, I talk to God through the day, I converse with the Father with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit.
  2. I read God’s word and I get more than information. I receive revelation. I see things written in it that lead me in understanding God’s will in my life at this present moment.
  3. I hear God’s voice in my heart. Being Spirit led is sensing the urging of the Holy Spirit to act and obey Him in certain ways. (Bought lunch for a pastor from Hawaii)
  4. I have a passion to witness, to share God’s love with others.
  5. I have a sense of eternity that makes me a pilgrim in the earth because I have a home in heaven

These signs are for being spirit filled not just being a tongue talker. We need to be filled daily. Right through the book of Acts the disciples were filled and filled again with the Holy Spirit.

The kind of Christianity that the disciples lived was fuelled by a world changing faith. It was a nation changing team of people who were not interested in the pleasures of this world but were focussed on the kingdom of God and bringing life and hope to a dying world.

Somehow tongues and being baptised in the Holy Spirit has become an optional extra in the lives of some Australian church goers. It’s like a sunroof for your car, it’s cool and useful, but you don’t need it for effective driving experience. The truth is the baptism of the Holy Spirit is like the engine in the car. People without it are pushing their car everywhere and if there’s a big hill to go up many people just put the brake on and camp there for the rest of their life. Some even roll back to where they started and complain, “This new Christian model car is a lemon man, it’s not what I was told it was going to be!”

You’re a Spirit first not a body first. You’re a Spirit first not a mind first. In this western world we live in many people do not even know a spirit realm exists. The education system we have champions reason and excludes evidence outside the realm of empirical scientific measurable facts. However in 75% of countries around the world where the education system includes a spiritual education, the spirit world is very real people live and die by spiritual realities.

For example in Australia the Coory population live with a awareness of spirit realm. To them the dreamtime is more than a story, they have connection with ancestors. Point the bone works for them. Walkabout is spiritual.

When Jesus sent His disciples out to do the work of ministry He commanded them to Preach, heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out devils. All those tasks require the supernatural power of God. So He gave them the power of the Holy Spirit to equip them. If they needed it then, certainly we need it now. Let’s make our goal this year to be baptised in the Holy Spirit, filled with His power and receive the gift of speaking in tongues. Let’s be determined to seek God for this power so that we can do the work of ministry just as the disciples did.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. If you have been baptised in the Holy Spirit share your story of how that happened and what it felt like.

2. What are the benefits of being baptised in the Holy Spirit? (Acts 1:8)

3. What kind of things do you need power for in your Christina life?

4. What is the value of Tongues? (1 Cor 14:4; Rom 8:26; Jude 20)

5. Why are some Christians content to go without the tongues experience?

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FAITH PRAYS – MEN PRAY – A message for Men on Mother’s day Faith Prays-final-02

Men, do you want to be part of God’s ultimate purpose that will dominate and fill the earth? Is your world a big one? Is your world described by interacting with something that will change history and bring life and answers to humanity?

Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!

That sounds like a very powerful force in the earth to me. I want to part of it. I hope you want to be a part of it. I hope you want to lead your family in being a part of it. Bring your family to church men! Lead your wife and kids to Jesus and to the body of Christ, the church that He has planned will overcome and fill the earth.

Young men, listen to the old men and grow up well and wisely. Be devoted to Christ and live wholeheartedly for Him. Be a pray-er and treat all women with respect. Pray for your future wife.  Married men, learn leadership, understand that headship is leadership not dominance. Demonstrate respectful relationships to your children. Take your family to church. Ensure your children find Jesus and as they grow into teens; lead by example. Be in church, pray for your family, lead with humility, be the same in church as you are at home, no hypocrisy. Keep your teens in church and youth group or you may lose them out of the kingdom. Older men, pray for the church. Don’t abdicate your role as the leaders and the wisdom of the body. God says, honour the old men.  Your age brings experience and wisdom. Lead Urban Connect Groups, love the families, lead by example and guide the young men.

If we are going to be great men of all ages, we will be pray-ers. Prayer is not optional if we are going to be part of the church of the living God.

Let’s see what Jesus has to say to men about prayer.

Luke 18:1-8 AMP Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up).

2 He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man.

3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary.

4 And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man,

5 Yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming or at the last she come and rail on me or assault me or strangle me.

6 Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says!

7 And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf?

8 I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?

Jesus wanted to empower His own men to pray and not give up, or lose heart. So He told them a story about a widow woman.

Why?

Why tell a story about a woman to men to try and inspire men to do anything. Wouldn’t it be better to tell a story about David? Or about any man. Aren’t we men going to be more inspired about great men and what they have achieved than hearing about what a woman has achieved?

In this story the man is the problem! What’s Jesus saying here? What is He trying to achieve?

This is a story about power! The woman apparently has no power. Men may be reluctant to admit powerlessness. Perhaps a woman more readily feels powerless because they are so often dominated by men. This woman is even more powerless being a widow and having no husband to protect her. As men, are we sometimes guilty of saying, She’ll be right. I’ll fix it! It will buff out! Don’t worry about it.” This woman demonstrated that in the midst of powerlessness, she found power. The secret of her power is persistence not strength! It’s not ingenuity that wins the day, it’s persistence. It’s not the rightness of her cause that wins the day, it’s persistence! It’s not anything else but persistence.

Men ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). Come on, how many men here have fallen victim to the persistence of a woman?

Learn from the master young grasshopper!

The power this woman has is in her persistent asking. Jesus makes it clear that she won the day because she did not give up. Even in the face of unrighteous judge, she won, how much more will we win when we go to a righteous God in heaven with our plea? Jesus says we will be speedily avenged, but we still must be persistent.

We give up too soon. When we are praying, we stop before the answer leaves heaven. Sometimes we don’t start because we think we can fix it ourselves. We procrastinate or we don’t see the need. Praying men have changed the world!

Acknowledging your powerlessness is key to receiving from God. He says, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. (John 15:5 AMP)

Paul experienced powerlessness and he learned how to overcome in it.

7 And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.

8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me;

9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Cor 12:7-9 AMP)

When he felt weak, then he knew he was strongest because Christ’s strength is made perfect in weakness. When we run out of our own answers we turn to God for His answers. Men, young men, older men, pray! Don’t give up, keep on praying! Pray until you receive an answer.

When I was first married my wife and I had some disagreements and we would argue. I would feel frustrated and we would often preach at each other, trying to score points. What I learned to do was thank God for my wife. I couldn’t change her. I could try and change myself, and that was hard. But the real power lay in thanksgiving. When I thanked God for Chris, He began to work in our lives. It was important that I prayed.

Pray for your wife and kids (if you’re single pray for your extended family)

Learn the power of headship. 1 Cor 11:3 AMP But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the Head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the Head of Christ is God. Spiritual Authority flows down. Headship is leadership not dominance. When you pray for your wife you have power spiritually, God and satan recognise you are the legitimate head and you are the one in authority. If you stand in the gap between your wife and kids and the spirit realm then that spirit realm must recognise your authority over them because God says you are the head over the wife and she over the kids.

How do you pray for your family?

Bless your wife and children. Your words are powerful! Declare blessing over them.

Numbers 6:22-27 The Message (MSG)

The Aaronic Blessing

22-23 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, This is how you are to bless the People of Israel. Say to them,

24 God bless you and keep you,

25 God smile on you and gift you,

26 God look you full in the face and make you prosper.

27 In so doing, they will place my name on the People of Israel—

I will confirm it by blessing them.”

Pray for your wife, thanking God for her. Pray for God to give her mercy, strength, and revelation. Declare the covering of God’s presence over her and ask for the angels to surround her. Pray for your children, blessing them, declaring protection over them. Guard them in the spirit by asking for God’s protection over them. Stand against principalities and powers that oppose God’s purpose in their lives.

Spiritually you are the covering and the protection over your family. Guard your home. Demonstrate and promote respectful relationships in your home. There must never be family violence in your home. This includes not only physical injury but direct or indirect threats, sexual assault, emotional and psychological torment, economic control, damage to property, social isolation and any behaviour which causes a person to live in fear. In this church we are making a stand against family violence. Men we ask you to swear an oath on the White Ribbon website: Swear

I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

This is my oath.

If there is violence or disrespectful relationships in your home, don’t be ashamed, seek help, come and see me and I will help you. You can change and become the godly man that you were called to be.

Guard your home against unhealthy internet invasion. Teach your children about dangers of internet porn. 85% of 16 year olds are exposed to porn. Approximately 15% are addicted to porn. Any amount of exposure is harmful. As fathers we must protect our children from this great harm. It has the potential to destroy their sexuality and ruin them for healthy married life.

How?

  1. Talk to your kids about porn from about 8 or 9 years old and onwards regularly.
  2. Use filters in your home wifi. For example: See here.
  3. Use screens in open areas like lounge/dinning or study room not in bedrooms.
  4. Limit screen time per day. Create active living and sport.

If you struggle with porn yourself seek help. Come and see me and begin the process of change. Lead by example.

Pray for your wife and children. Stand in Faith for their salvation and security. It will take a determined effort on your part but eternity will reward you for it.

Let’s pray!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What time of the day do you find is most workable for you to pray?

2. What motivates you to pray?

3. What answers to prayer can you tell us about?

4. What things stop you or try and stop you praying?

5.  How can you overcome those things?

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FAITH PRAYS  Faith Prays-final-02When I first became a Christian I was 20, single, living at home and each night before bed I would talk to God for a while as I looked out my bedroom window over the lights of the neighbourhood. I think I got involved in prayer early in my walk with God simply because I was thankful that Jesus had saved me. Soon I prayed more because I began to imagine talking to people about Jesus and what I would say and what I imagined they might say in response. It was imagining how I might preach to an individual or a small group of people. From this scenario I would pray and talk to God about my day and my world and it wasn’t hard to let 30 minutes or even an hour slip by. Question: What motivates you to pray and talk to God? Prayer is a product of relationship. Maybe for some it begins with need. You may feel helpless and so you reach out to God for help and you begin to talk to Him. However, what truly motivates us is love, we pray because we love Jesus. When you have faith, you pray! When you have faith you know and understand the realities of your spiritual life. You fully understand that you were lost and now you are heaven bound. The realisation of that causes you to feel the great sense of gratitude for Jesus and what He has done for you. Faith enables you to know and trust that God loves you and wants to heal you and provide for you. Faith is the belief that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb 11:6)  So prayer begins with praise and thanks. It flows into asking and believing for those things you need God to do for you. It deepens with meditating on God’s word and seeking His presence and power. It closes with thanks and commitment, yet it never truly closes because our whole day can be filled with prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus to show them how to pray He responded with what we call the Lord’s Prayer, which is really the disciple’s prayer. Matt 6:9-13. You see and understand that your life is so small compared to the world and the Kingdom and yet being linked up to God makes you a key player in the purposes and plans of God that He has ordained. When Peter James and John left their nets to follow Jesus, they left behind a small world of fishing and selling their catch to a whole new world of impacting the entire planet with God’s plan of love and the preaching of the gospel. Today 2000 years later we are still talking about them and learning life lessons from them through the scriptures.  Luke 5:1-10 David was an amazing pray-er. As we read the Psalms we see a man of relationship, a man who talked much to God and thankfully he wrote many of his prayers down as the Psalms. Psalm 27:8 You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. (AMP) Perhaps you feel your vital need is something to eat or the next episode of your favourite mini-series, but your vital need is what you have been mediating on – what you have been thinking a lot about. If you have not felt a desire to pray, then simply take some time to think. There’s plenty of time if you decide to turn off screens. Think deeply, it’s called reflective thinking, about what Jesus has done for you. Imagine sitting down with Him sitting opposite you and thinking about what you might say to Him and what He might say back. Question. Estimate the average time each day that you watching a screen, other than for work. Faith Prays. There’s the natural dimension of your life. And there’s the spiritual dimension. The spiritual dimension is by far the largest. It’s the part of your life focussed on eternity. You can focus on the natural world 100%, but the natural world is influenced by the spiritual world.  You can live a bigger life when you focus on the spiritual world all around you. You can live with God, work with Him and see changes take place in the natural world because you apply faith. Will you decide you’re going to live a bigger life? Will you switch of the screens sometimes and just interact with God, give Him your undivided attention? Make prayer a vital part of your day and your life. CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE ABOUT SCREEN TIME… http://www.mychristiandaily.com/index.php/fp-left-menu/14250-jesus-vs-netflix DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Is prayer a vital part of a Christian’s life? 2. How much time do Christians pray nowadays compared to say bible times in the new testament? 3. Estimate the amount of screen time each day apart for work related. 4. Is there value in limiting screen time so that you can focus on prayer? 5. What would you like to pray about today?

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Faith in God CombinedYOU NEED FAITH TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE THE BIG THINGS YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE. YOU CAN LIVE A LIFE WITHOUT FAITH BUT – IT WILL BE A SMALLER LIFE THAN ONE LIVED WITH FAITH.

Do you need a miracle?

Do you need something to change in your circumstances?

Do you need a breakthrough in your life in some way? Maybe your health has some immoveable issues? Maybe you are sick of your ho-hum job and you want to do something different? Maybe you have struggled financially for far too long? Perhaps you have some deep fears or you have wrestled with doubts in your mind for far too long.

Then today you need to tune in really well!!!

You love God, but you’re looking for more. You’re looking for a significant shift, you’re sick of believing for the same miracles and increase but not seeing it as you hoped. You’re at a tipping point, it’s time to change up and create some momentum.

I’m going to give you an answer.

Abraham met with God

Gen 15:1-5

God I want an heir! Essentially Abraham was saying, – It’s my turn now!

You’ve just told me how you are El-Shaddai, the all sufficient one, I know you’re able, but right now I don’t’ have a son! I WANT YOU TO DO SOMETHING FOR ME!

Is that selfish? Of course not!  Jesus said: And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive. Matt 21:22

God answers Abraham, not just YES; but wait a minute Abraham, I will give you offspring that number as the stars. He believed.

 ROADBLOCK –  Abraham was old.

He made a demand of God and God answered so fast it he nearly missed it and     the answer was far greater than the demand by miles!

God loves faith!  Bold faith pursues God for undeserved answers.

While others wait around for the moving of the water, Jesus is asking you, “What do you want?”

He is waiting for someone to stand up and shout – “It’s my turn now!”

STORY 2 – Naaman the leper 2 Kings 5

He was outside the covenant. He was an enemy of God’s people, but he came and asked big for a miracle. He humbled himself and obeyed God’s direction through the prophet.

It’s my turn now!

ROADBLOCK – He was outside the covenant, he had been an enemy.

When we see other people, pastors, churches being blessed, – we rejoice of course but it’s time to stand up and shout to God, It’s my turn now!

STORY 3 – The Syro-Phenician woman. Mark 7:25-30

She came to Jesus. She’s no Israelite. She’s not entitled to covenant promises but she pushed through every doctrinal, legal, cultural and sexist barrier and shouted, It’s my turn now.

ROADBLOCK – She was outside God’s plan and purpose.

This isn’t an arrogant or selfish demand, this is a call that springs from a faith filled heart that knows God is able, and He is gracious and good and I need His help.

STORY 4 – Blind Bartimaeus Mark 10:46-52

He called out “Son of David have mercy on me” In effect he was saying, “It’s my turn now!”

ROADBLOCK – the crowd stood in the way, be quiet they said, you’re annoying!

But Jesus told them to bring him here. What do you want he asked? Bold faith stands up and says God, it’s my turn now!

It’s my turn for a healing.

It’s my turn for a financial miracle.

It’s my turn for a salvation miracle.

It’s my turn for a Church growth

It’s my turn for a personal breakthrough.

It’s time some believers and leaders decided, we are not just plodding along doing all things well, and hoping for good things to happen, and yet not seeing the big breakthroughs and advances that we truly desire.

We have decided to stand up and make a demand in faith, just like Jacob who said “I won’t let you go until you bless me”

It’s my turn now!

It’s my turn now!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What is the biggest faith challenge you have ever faced?
  2. What did doubt say to your mind about that challenge?
  3. What did/does faith say to you about that challenge?
  4. Can you accept that God really wants to bless, heal and prosper you?
  5. Can you get past any sense of it being selfish to ask God for answers to your needs?

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WATER BAPTISM – WILL YOU FOLLOW THE LORD? elevation Baptism 5

The story of Jesus being baptised in water goes like this. The whole of Matthew chapter three.

This was the beginning of Jesus ministry years. It began with the Father speaking audibly about His Son at His baptism, and culminated with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus some three and a half years later. Jesus set a pattern for us to follow Him.

Will you follow the Lord in the waters of baptism?

My story.

I was born again at the age of 20 and about seven weeks later I was baptised by immersion in water. This was a beautiful experience for me and a time when I also desired to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is a great opportunity to witness this reality to all your family and friends.

What does baptism mean? What is it for?

When John the Baptist baptised people is was in response to his call for people to repent, confess their sins and heartily amend their ways. It was a public demonstration that a person had made a new start in life to walk in righteousness, and leave the past behind. It showed the picture of a washing away of the old life.

Later water baptism took on a new and added meaning after Christ was raised from the dead as an identification with Christ of His death burial and resurrection.

For each of us Water Baptism certainly is an outward sign of an inward life change. It is an important declaration to all our friends, family and brothers and sisters that I have chosen to follow Christ. But it is a whole lot more than that too.

It is a spiritually powerful experience that prepares you for a victorious life walking with Jesus. Let’s see how Paul saw water baptism.

Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow?

2 Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?

3 Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

4 We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.

When you were born again, you became a new person, a new creation, your old life ceased and a new life began. You were crucified with Christ. Rom 6:6 We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin.

What do we do with a dead body? We bury it! And so in water baptism we bury the old life in the waters of baptism and rise up out of the waters just as Jesus was raised from the dead.

Think of it like this: Jesus died and you died (your old life); Jesus was buried and you were buried (in the waters of baptism); Jesus was raised, and you were raised into newness of life. So in this way you truly identify with Jesus.

Water baptism represents the reality of what takes place in your new birth. It is an outward sign that you are following Jesus; but much more than that it is following Jesus and partaking in the fullness of your own resurrection to new life in Christ. Far more than just a declaration, it delivers the power of God to you for real life change.

Look at his verse with me;

Rom 6:4

We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.(AMP)

This verse says Jesus was raised up from the dead by the glorious power of the Father and JUST THE SAME way you are raised walk in newness of life. When you come up out of the water after going under it, you can believe that the power of God comes upon you to raise you spiritually into a new life. – That’s powerful!

Does Water baptism help me now?

The truth and application of the reality of water baptism is something that helps you every day of your new Christian life. The apostle Peter shows us this truth when he says in 1 Peter 3:19-21

19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. 21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.(NLT)

In other words the water of Noah’s flood is a picture of water baptism. How so? Noah enters into the Ark which represents God, the ark having three levels, the top one being one with windows to let in light (Father Son and Holy Spirit). The rain comes and the water which represented judgement rose up and the Ark floated on the waters. The waters separated the ungodliness of the world whom God judged from Noah and his family.

In this same way the waters of baptism now separate us from the ungodly past now we are in Christ (Our ark).  So to apply this great truth, whenever you are tempted to sin remember your water baptism and invest faith in your experience of God’s power and truth in that you are now a new creation and the water of your baptism has separated you form the ungodly temptation coming against you.

It’s a believer’s baptism. Maybe you are saying, “I was baptised as a baby, so I don’t need to be baptised again.” The idea of baptising babies came into the church centuries ago because of fear. Fear that babies that died at a young age would not go to heaven. However baptism does not save, as we have learned in February’s theme (faith for salvation) – only through faith in Jesus Christ is a person saved. Jesus commanded is disciples, let the little children come to me. Salvation for children below the age of understanding is secure in His mercy and acceptance. After the age of understanding children easily receive Christ, but they must be led to Christ.

In all cases in the New Testament people were baptised after they believed. In Acts 2 as Peter preaches the first sermon to the early church they are moved to respond and they said what shall we do? His response was Repent, be baptised and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In Mark’s gospel he states, Mark 16:16  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.(ESV). Baptism does not save but it’s so closely linked to our salvation and path to follow Christ that it is included here in the scripture describing followers of Christ.

Another objection some people have is “It’s embarrassing to get wet while everyone is looking at me! My hair will look a mess, people might see my legs, what would I wear? It’s too cold! Etc. etc.” I’m sure there’s a thousand questions that relate to our sense of self consciousness, but all I can say is talk it through with a leader and overcome these things so that you can obey God and be baptised. We will be having a water baptism service on April 26th both morning and night.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What are some common objections to being baptised?

2. Describe, imagine the scene of the first mass water baptism as described in Acts 2:37-41

3. Can some of the group share testimonies of being baptised?

4. How has baptism helped you, changed you, affected you?

5. What would you say to anyone considering being baptised?

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FAITH SHARING #4AM Faith-440x330

Having studied at university, I had a confidence to be in that space and a desire to reach other uni students with the gospel. So when I was first on staff as a youth pastor in Brisbane in my early ministry days I felt God leading me to go the QLD Uni and do some outdoor preaching. This seemed like quite a challenge for me, but I really felt compelled by God to do it. So I went to case out the joint. I saw that lots of students ate their lunch outside sitting in the sun on grassy areas and also the uni refectory (Café) was a great place with an outdoor section that would lend itself to some preaching opportunities. So I rolled up one Tuesday lunch time and decided I’m going to preach at 1pm in the refectory. Well 1pm came and went and I was still sitting nervously at a table. 1.15pm came and went – same thing. Right through until I jumped up onto a table and began to preach about Jesus at about 1.50pm.

The most amazing thing about that experience is that my fear and nerves completely disappeared when I actually stood on that table and began to speak. I had to overcome fear because I had faith and I knew the reality of heaven and hell.

 When your faith is strong, you want to tell others about the gospel.

When your faith is strong you know God has changed your life and it’s so good that you want to tell others about it – just like this leper in Mark 1:40-45

40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.(KJV)

When I was first saved Chris (now my wife) and I joined the youth street witnessing team. We went in to the city every Friday night to share our faith with anyone we met on the streets. Over the years we must have shared our faith with thousands of people. Having faith means that the reality of your salvation completely dominates your life and eternal aspects overshadow temporary ones.

  1.  When your faith is strong, you want to tell others about the gospel.

Luke 14:21-23 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.(NLT)

When our church was in the Mill Park location, we did quite a lot of door knocking in the Mill Park area. The methodology was to take a survey and go door to door on a Saturday afternoon and ask people questions like, “What do you see as the greatest needs in this local area.” And “How can the church be part of the answer to that need?” If people were open to chatting about these things you could take the questions further and ask about their faith and then share you own faith experience.

One thing I noticed about this task was that the results were greatly affected by what you believe. If I went with confidence that God was with me, and these people would be open and receptive, I had a great time and many people allowed me to share my faith with them; but if I went with fear and trepidation expecting to be punched in the face at every door, then I had knock back after knock back and a miserable day.

It matters what you believe!

2. When your faith is strong, you believe that the harvest is ripe.

 

John 4:35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.(NLT)

 

Sometimes the people you share you faith with reject the message at first. One of the police guys I spoke to many years ago was pretty confident in his atheism. He had it all figured out. Although he was raised as a catholic, he had no ongoing faith. I shared a couple of times with him and it seemed there was no real headway being made. Then a situation arose where his young son was almost drowned and was in hospital ICU in an induced coma. The station sergeant asked me and the church to pray. I believe God did a miracle and the boy survived unscathed.

 

In sharing with the policeman later he was able to explain the great outcome in natural terms and seemed unaffected in his faith. But God was at work, and after many opportunities to share faith with him and the added impact of another policeman who was a believer also sharing with him, he came to faith and was baptised last April.

 

  1. When you’re strong in faith you believe that the word is at work in people’s lives.

 

You don’t fear failure, because you believe God is in control. A person’s immediate response is pretty much irrelevant – the words you speak when sharing your faith are like seeds that rest in their heart and it begins a work to change them. When you’re a person of faith you know that it’s God’s timing not yours and you’re at peace with His process. Our only responsibility is just to shine the light.

 

One of our regular coffee spots is in the Plenty Valley Town Centre. We have been going there now for years and we know all the waiters and waitresses very well. It’s like we do life with them. We share their highs and lows and tell them about our lives as well. One of the waitresses contracted bowel cancer and passed away a couple of years ago. Before she passed it was an opportunity for Chris to go and visit her in her home with her family and pray with her during her illness. She opened up her heart to Jesus and was assured of her salvation. These and other people could see the love and peace of God through us as we did life with them, and trust was built.

 

  1. When you’re faith is strong, you approach life with hope and joy and it shows.

 

2 Cor 2:15-16   15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing:

16 To the latter it is an aroma [wafted] from death to death [a fatal odour, the smell of doom]; to the former it is an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is qualified (fit and sufficient) for these things? [Who is able for such a ministry? We?](AMP)

 

On Friday it was time to do a phone changeover so I went down to the Telstra store in Plenty Valley Town Centre and sat with a young man who was pretty quiet in his manner, so after he completed all the paperwork to hand over my new phone I asked him about his faith in God. He explained he was brought up catholic but had no ongoing faith. I shared how I had experienced Jesus’ reality, and invited him to come along to the church here whenever he could, and gave him a card.

 

  1. When your faith is strong, you believe God is organising your day and He creates opportunities.

 

Every day you live, God is at work with you in designing your day. He walks with you and you walk with him. Nothing is wasted, nothing is frivolous. All things work together for good to those that love God and called according to His purpose.

 

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].(AMP)

 

Have a bigger expectation of God. Be confident that He is leading you every day, life isn’t random, it’s planned.

 

God has planned your day, because He knows all things and His design is for you to know Christ and be forgiven. Let today be a day when you experience God’s reality through the love of Jesus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Within your group can you make a list of all the day to day things we do that are more important than sharing your faith?

2. Is there anyone in the group who had another person share the gospel with them before they became a Christian?

3. What if that person had chickened out and not shared with you?

4. How can we strengthen our faith so that sharing it is our great passion?

5. Do you believe the harvest is ripe? What does that mean?

 

 

 

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