Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘church’

FAVOUR #2    14/8/16amgods-favor-st-pats-550x320

Joshua’s long day

Joshua 10:12-13 AMP 12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord handed over the Amorites to the sons of Israel, and Joshua said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, And moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13  So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation [of Israel] took vengeance upon their enemies.

 

Some days God moves heaven and earth for one of His sons! What qualified Joshua for this outstanding miracle?

The story…

5 Kings attacked Gibeon – They were afraid of Israel and because Gibeon had surrendered to Israel they went after them in revenge. The Gibeonites ask Joshua for help and he takes his men up to Gibeon. The Lord said I have given them to you, do not fear.  Joshua went up all night to march on them. They fought all day and God threw down great hail stones upon them. More died from the hail than from the sword of Israel. The Joshua asked God for something big. Sun standstill. They had already been awake 36 hours when the request was made for another 24 – that’s passion.

Whose side do you want to be on?

I want to be on the Lord’s side. That’s the winning side. When you are on the Lord’s side you get the favour of God on your life. Supernatural help so that you can accomplish His purpose.

WE ARE IN A SEASON OF GOD’S FAVOUR

What is God’s Favour?

It is the loving kindness of God, it is His help and blessings. Favour is God working with you to help you and give you victory in a supernatural way. Grace is the New Testament word for favour. It means unmerited favour or goodness. Do you want the favour of God on your life? Can I share with you how to obtain it?

God is no respecter of persons. That means He doesn’t have favourites. His blessings are available to all. But there is a way to receive. We receive by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. He that doubts is like the wave tossed to and fro, let not that man thing he will receive anything from the Lord. He loves all equally, He has no favourites but He gives favour to anyone who qualifies for it. So what qualifies us for favour?

You can position yourself for favour. There are two things that position you for God’s favour: passion for His purpose and putting God first in everything.

Joshua obtained extraordinary favour. You can see his passion to fulfil God’s purpose to take the Promised Land and occupy the land God had promised to Israel. If he can march all night, fight all day and still ask for another 24 hours then I can see he has passion; and what for, to see the enemies of Israel routed. When you have a passion for your own To Do list and God’s purpose is on the bottom or non-existent, then you are not going to be seeing the favour of God. We can often live our lives as if God’s work and His purpose are for someone else. We think that we are not qualified or we don’t have a passion for what He loves.

The second criteria to position yourself for God’s favour is to put Him first in everything.

Ps 1:1-3 AMP

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers). 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night. 3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

You can position yourself for God’s favour. In Psalm 1 we see the man under favour has sought Gods law above the advice of sinners. He has valued God’s ways above the ways of scoffers and those who ridicule. You can position yourself for God’s favour. Don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, hang with the scoffers, but instead delight in God’s law. This is talking about the focus of your life, your values, your passion for the things of God, His ways and His wisdom.

Putting God first in everything we do positions us for favour.

Here’s the big thought for today… There is favour for you if you want it.

Psalm 2:12 …favoured by God are all those who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 84:4 …favoured are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence.

Psalm 84:5… favoured is the man whose strength is in You. In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Psalm 84:12 …favoured is the man whose strength is in You. [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

Think about what we put first in our lives. A report came out this week that the average Aussie puts 46 hours into screen time per week, and only 6 hours into face to face relationships. That’s a lot of discretionary time!!  We say we are too busy for this and that, too busy to spend time with people we love. The result may well be a lack of connection and unhealthy relationships.  Others say I’m too busy for prayer, too busy for reading God’s word and too busy to get to church; but the average person spends 46 hours a week looking at a screen! And folks that doesn’t include work screen time.

Favour comes when we put God first in our possessions. When we give our tithe, the first tenth of our gross income, it’s just that – the first tenth. It’s not the last tenth or even the second tenth. Tithing is a principle that God gave His people. It is a demonstration that God is first in our possessions and our living and our income. The first commandment was to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, in the New Testament He asks for first love, when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan the first city was for God – Jericho. He calls for first fruits of every harvest, He says seek first the kingdom then all these things will be added unto you. If you can get this principle: God wants to be first in your life in everything. If in anything He is second that’s idolatry. He specifically says that the first tithe belongs to Him and is for the house and for the ministry. It’s so that there is meat in His house to meet every need. But it’s not without reward. Here is His favour! His promise is for open heavens, for abundance and so if our attitude is faith, there’s a joy in bringing God that which is His, but if there’s unbelief, then there is a sorrow for something lost.

We are in a season of Gods favour. You can position yourself for His favour by having a passion for His purpose and by walking the Psalm 1 road, putting the kingdom first in your life. Perhaps you’re asking what I can do.

If there’s a take away goal from this message it’s this: Renew your passion for God and put Him first in everything and watch what happens.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. If you thought about what deep passions you have in your life – what are they?
  2. How many of those passions are the ones God has set for your life?
  3.  What are your priorities – whats most important to you in your life?
  4. Is God first in every area?
  5. What can you do to change today – to follow His passions and put Him first in everything?

Read Full Post »

YOUR PLACE IN THE NATION – 3 JULY 2016 AM banner_PRAY4AUS_web_1200x628_1605

Today we begin a series on prayer through July 2016. I would like to open by reading Winston Churchill’s speech from the Second World War. Winston Churchill’s speech ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ is one of the defining speeches during the second world war. It uses the technique of repetition to very good effect.

Winston Churchill – 4 June 1940

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,

we shall fight on the seas and oceans,

we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,

we shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

The context was war. The threat is very real and very serious. This is how we as Christians here in Australia must perceive and understand the situation within our own nation. Think about the spiritual condition of the nation. We are at war with satan, with spiritual forces that want to remove the gospel and the power of God from the nation and reduce Christianity to a powerless religion. Is that what you want? If not then this is a rallying cry for all of us and for anyone who will hear.

The result of this speech of Winston Churchill was to unite the people of Great Britain to call them to action and to give them a belief that the victory as achievable.

There is no complaining in this time of focus, no focus on the small things that seem inconvenient. The focus is now on the main thing that really matters. They understood the threat, they knew their job, and they chose to never give up.

There is a spirit realm, and we live in it we are surrounded by it. It is always active and always talking to us. We must not be ignorant of the devil’s devices. Many Christian’s live their daily lives oblivious to the activity of the spirit realm around them. Powerless to recognise it, and powerless to shift it or change situations and circumstances affected by it. Instead God calls us to rule and reign with Him in it! We are people of authority! Do you wield that authority?

Ephes 6:12 AMP

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

Luke 10:19 AMP

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

There is an enemy. A decline in the power and effectiveness of Christianity in Australia shows that the enemy has won some victories. The church needs a renewal, a boost to revive the life and power of the church. Godlessness abounds through the efforts of some to redefine marriage, promote the extremely ungodly Safe Schools Program and understanding that in Victoria we have the worst Abortion laws in the western world.

Your job or role is to influence the spirit realm not to let it influence you. HOW?

We must pray! Never feel that your prayers are powerless or worthless. You can move mountains when you pray. What convinces you? Satan’s message that prayer is boring, irrelevant and powerless OR God’s prompting of the Holy Spirit in your life saying, “All men aught always to pray and not give up!”  God calls us to pray.

2 Chron 7:14 AMP

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

ONE Thing I want you to know – YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THINGS

Through Worship – Remember the story of Jehoshaphat. Through declaration – Say to this mountain – Mark 11:23 AMP

Think about your family today, is it where it should be?  If not do not despair, it can change. It’s time to pray, and to pray with a real belief that you can make a difference and things will change. This month we will be seeking to inspire you the ray and to discover the power that you have in prayer.

Think about your church. It’s time to pray for revival. To pray for souls, miracles and money. To have a passion for the church as a whole and your church here at Plenty Valley. What we long to see is many people coming to Christ. Pray for the people you know and are close to. Pray for this local area.

Think about your nation. Pray for the rise of the church. That Christianity will be leading and influencing in this land. That we will experience righteousness in the land.

ONE thing that I believe we can do as a result of this message is – PRAY – In your world – Make time – For example think how you would make time if you had a kid sick in Hospital. Pray with others   –  Get together in UC Groups, at Church Mon-Fri 6-7am, at Church – Sunday 31st 12.30 – 1 hour.

Listen to the words of Jesus today, “Will you not watch (pray) with me one hour?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Describe your prayer practice in an average week.
  2. Why do we feel inadequate in prayer sometimes?
  3. What can we do to overcome the reluctance to pray?
  4. Work out a positive plan to pray in the UC group each time you meet.
  5. What goal can you set to pray in your own personal time between now and next time you meet at UC group?

Read Full Post »

Truth.truth

Have you ever told a lie and got away with it? How did you feel?

Truth is a very important subject.

To study truth involves understanding philosophy and theories of truth that are very complex and too deep for a church sermon.

But how do you know you have the truth?

Basic truth often referred to as the correspondence theory of truth is that something is true if it can be proven by already known truth.

For example, Is it true that I am the oldest person in the room? To know whether that is true you would need to know the ages of every person in the room at a given time. It may be true today but what about tomorrow?

Another example is. Is it true that there is a kind of star called a black hole?

There are many theories and calculations that lead to that proposition but it can’t be objectively seen or proven.

What about Jesus is God?

Whether this statement is true or false is of great importance.

How can you know if such things are true or not?

  1. The evidence
  2. The Possibility of deception
  3. The knowledge through revelation.

The Evidence.

To some people no amount of evidence will be sufficient to prove to them that Jesus is God. But to many the scientific, literary and logical evidence is welcome and helpful. Two examples of writers who cover this topic well are Lee StrobelThe Case for Faith and William Lane Craig Is Jesus the Son of God?

The same evidence has led tens of thousands of scientists to believe in the biblical account of creation and the same evidence had led thousands of other scientists to have an atheistic view of the world.

Evidence that Jesus is God can be found here and here.

The possibility of deception.

Any person can be deceived. How can you know that you are thinking in a clear and coherent manner? How can you know that you are seeing and hearing evidence in the same way another person receives it?

Prov 16:2 AMP

All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions], But the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth].

 

Mark 4:24-25

Then He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By your own standard of measurement [that is, to the extent that you study spiritual truth and apply godly wisdom] it will be measured to you [and you will be given even greater ability to respond]—and more will be given to you besides.

25 For whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a yearning for truth], even what he has will be taken away from him.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11Amplified Bible (AMP)

9 The coming of the [Antichrist, the lawless] one is through the activity of Satan, [attended] with great power [all kinds of counterfeit miracles] and [deceptive] signs and false wonders [all of them lies], 10 and by unlimited seduction to evil and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not welcome the love of the truth [of the gospel] so as to be saved [they were spiritually blind, and rejected the truth that would have saved them]. 11 Because of this God will send upon them a misleading influence, [an activity of error and deception] so they will believe the lie,

Knowledge through revelation

The understanding that things can be known in a spiritual sense of knowing as separate from an intellectual sense is the basis of faith. The scripture in Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]., shows the existence of evidence not conveyed through the five senses. In examining (St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica 1) he asks, “Without grace can any man know truth?” He answers by saying, “Yes, there is some truth which comes by natural light and there is some truth which comes as act of sanctifying grace.” I would say that Faith is not primarily intellectual but is spiritual and is accessed through the intellect.

If you believe that Jesus is God then that becomes true for you when you receive that knowledge by faith. You may be convinced intellectually but then later you could be dissuaded by an higher intellectual argument or deception.

You need to hear the evidence from the Spirit of God.

Jesus said John 8:32 AMP – And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].”

John 14:6 AMP Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How would you define truth?
  2. How important is it to you that your faith rests on provable facts?
  3. Do you have a “knowledge of God” in your heart?
  4. How would you go about finding evidence of truth about the bible?
  5. How would you find revelation knowledge from God?

Read Full Post »

A Mother’s Day Message for Men.

Building Great families – May 2016great families

Violence has always been with us. Has there been more or less violence now than in the past? It’s impossible to tell, however from the earliest history we know that war took millions of lives and the same thing is taking place all over the world today. Violence is ugly, it’s repugnant, but we can’t get away from it as part of the nature of man. Here’s what God says about man in the days leading up to the flood of Noah. Gen 6:5-6 AMP  The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. 6 The Lord regretted that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was [deeply] grieved in His heart. Things haven’t changed much since then. We say we live a civilised society, yet we see even in this land of peace and safety, acts of terrorism, gang violence and family violence such that one woman is killed on average every week through current or former partner violence.

Some would say that God is pretty violent Himself because throughout the Old Testament, God instructs Israel to wipe out nations, killing millions of people including women and children. These commands were always to execute judgement. God is a righteous and just God and His sixth commandment is Ex 20:13 AMP  “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).”

However God is a capital punishment advocate who deals out the death penalty for a number of crimes including cursing your parents. In the events of the Old Testament God uses Israel to execute His justice upon the heathen nations of Canaan who were extremely violent themselves. Their own practice of sacrificing their children in the fire to their gods was specifically mentioned by God as one reason for this judgement. Deut 12:29-31 ESV “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” The Old Testament shows the judgement of God against sin to be unavoidable. However we see this, the clear message of the Old Testament is that God is a holy God who judges all manner of sin and His justice is without compromise. Even Israel received this judgement when they too also strayed into idolatry and evil practices.

War has continued throughout the centuries with World War I being the “war to end all wars” yet sadly it was not so. World War II and subsequent wars like the Vietnam War and the war of Desert Storm in Iraq have continued unabated. We have seen genocide committed over and over again in examples like Pol Pot’s regime where millions died in Cambodia; such as the genocide in Rwanda and the Congo where still today life is cheap. In a short digression often non-Christian critic will say that religious wars have killed more people than any other wars. But this is a complete myth.

In our Australian culture of egalitarianism and giving everyone a fair go, still we have a great deal of violence. The statistics for family violence have risen steadily for many years. This is due to increased reporting as well as increase in prevalence. Christian or not Christian, the community view has begun to change in the way that we see violence as being unacceptable especially in the home. Yet as much as we dislike it and protest about it, we see it continues relentlessly. Violence is perpetrated mostly by men. Men from every ethnic background and every socioeconomic background. So men need to be part of the answer.

There’s a job to do for all of us men here today. – Ensure the next generation does not make violence their choice in resolving conflict. We have a responsibility to raise our families without violence and to work for an end to violence in our community.

The culture that men carry either implicit or explicit is that women are somehow less than men. This ingrained cultural norm stems not just from the woman being the weaker sex physically, but from the traditional roles men play in terms of being driven by achievement and women by nurture.

The underlying foundation of violence against women is gender inequity.

Gender equity is a very important concept and is supported by the bible view that men and women are of equal value but have different roles. The White Ribbon Organisation in Australia is an organisation of men who believe that violence against women is wrong and they want to do something about it. I am a White Ribbon Ambassador which means that I am authorised to speak on behalf of White Ribbon and for the cause of ending violence against women. This local church has held four annual White Ribbon Dinners over the last four years and sought to bring awareness and resources to the community around us to work on the prevention aspect of this important initiative.  Also I serve on a non-church committee to organise the empowering of White Ribbon Ambassadors across the State. IMG_4331

Violence in this community.

This Whittlesea Local Government region each year has the worst or second worst statistics for family violence in the State of Victoria. My role as Police Chaplain has given me a deeper understanding of this issue as I seek to care for the Police members in this local area. It may surprise you to know that around 50% of our local police effort goes into addressing family violence. We want to be part of the answer and we want to impact our own local community so that over time we see a reduction in this type of crime. If we are going to make a difference, here’s how you and I can make a difference.

  1. Review your past. How has violence characterised your behaviour? Did you grow up in a violent home? Were you a victim of violence? For some men who were victims of violence they learn from an early age that the way to deal with conflict is to hit out physically. This is how you get your own way. Violence is not only physical – it is verbal, sexual, economic, emotional, and more. Recognise what your past has taught you in terms of your values. Do you use any form of violence to get your own way? Do you hit, yell, withhold finances, denigrate, or in any way hurt your partner or children or anyone else? How does one change? Face yourself and your past. Ask forgiveness. Seek counsel and help from supportive people.
  2. Submit your life to Christ. It’s hard to change your habits especially if they are long standing from childhood. Yet in Christ we have a life changing power of handing our life over to God. The power of Christianity is not just forgiveness but power over sin because God gives a repentant sinner a new heart. Jesus was not violent, but He absorbed violence. Think about the cross, and how He endured violence against Himself. Jesus view of violence was simple: Matthew 26:52 (AMP) Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place; for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword. Change in an individual’s life is extremely difficult unless God gives you a new heart, so make it your determined purpose to surrender your life to Christ and become a new man.
  3. Review your values. Do you see women as less in any way? From an early age we say to a little girl, “How beautiful she is.” And to a little boy, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” By this we build into women the value judgement of appearance and to men the value judgement of achievement. As children grow we must be so careful about our language. Do we use statements like, “crying like a girl, or hitting like a girl.” to chastise a boy and reinforce the stereotype that girls are weak or inferior?
  4. Raise your kids without violence. Children must see mother and father loving each other and resolving conflict without violence, because they will learn from watching. It is not acceptable for any woman or child to feel fear from an angry man. Smacking is an important subject and is promoted in the scriptures. Smacking is an important tool for a wise parent to bring about a small amount of pain to a child to avoid a life time of far greater pain. Smacking is effective in very young children who are not able to reason yet. Smacking must never be done in anger and must be balanced with loving and accepting touch when a child is sorry or behaves well. Video games in particular are often violent and program a child’s mind to see violence as a strategy to gain power or pleasure. Be careful about what your children watch on games, television and movies.
  5. Champion gender equity. Men and women are of equal value. They have different roles, women are not all the same. Men are not all the same. Some women are properly suited to career and leadership, others for nurture and motherhood. No one gender stereotype is of greater value than another. Men who choose homemaking roles are less numerous but not less important or valuable. Think about how women are treated in your home, your family group. Get rid of sexist jokes, put downs based on gender.
  6. In your associations speak up for gender equity and respect for women. In your church, your workplace, your sporting club, are women treated with respect? In a committee meeting do women get an equal share of the time when asked to speak? Remember that even in 2016 in Australia women are paid 18% less than men for the same jobs. This is an example of gender inequity.

Conclusions

As godly men in this local community we can make a difference. It’s important that we become aware of the issue and review our inner core belief systems about how we think about women. You may not be violent but do you promote the unhealthy stereotypes of thinking and behaviour that are so prevalent in Australia? Let’s speak up for respect and equity. Lets’ take the pledge at White Ribbon.

I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

Go to http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/myoath-popup

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What family environment did you grow up in? was there violence?
  2. How did this affect you?
  3. What values do you want your kids to hold regarding violence?
  4. How will you influence them?
  5. How can you influence your workplace for gender equity?

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Pastors, leaders, church members do you want to grow as a leader?BE FUN THEY SAID

Why be a leader? – Together Everyone Achieves More. – Love.

It’s challenging to be a leader. Being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs around.

 

1 Sam 30:1-6 AMP

Now it happened when David and his men came [home] to Ziklag on the third day, [they found] that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev (the South country) and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2 and they had taken captive the women [and all] who were there, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off [to be used as slaves] and went on their way. 3 When David and his men came to the town, it was burned, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until [a]they were too exhausted to weep [any longer]. 5 Now David’s two wives had been captured, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Further, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all of them were embittered, each man for his sons and daughters. But David felt strengthened and encouraged in the Lord his God.

What do we learn from this story?

  1. David is doing God’s will when calamity strikes.
  2. David is under the most intense pressure of his life. Stress
  3. In the leadership stretch it doesn’t seem fair.
  4. Although David’s men practically worshipped him, in this situation they turned against him.
  5. David suffered personal loss as well as a leadership crisis.
  6. This was David’s final test before Kingship
  7. God organised this situation.
  8. The stretch didn’t finish when David became King.

You are a LEADER!

If you want to be a better leader then what are you doing to grow your leadership skills and capacity?

Testimony

Eighteen months ago due to a financial crunch I had to ask my assistant pastor to leave staff and go back to the secular workforce. That obviously meant and increase in responsibilities falling on my plate. Then last year I made the decision to begin a masters degree in Ministry and Leadership. Things got busier. In October last year I had a big input into a church in Hobart after the pastors resigned and now this year in January I found myself taking on another church in Melbourne to lead as well as this one. It’s been a stretching time!

Leadership isn’t only for the few charismatic individuals who seem gifted to lead. Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to everyone.

In the study that I have done in the last 12 months one of the biggest discoveries I have made in much reading and research is that leadership can be learned. There are skills and abilities you can learn to boost your leadership capabilities so that you can achieve more through others and see better results.

The question is: what will you do to learn more about leadership?

Leadership is relationship

How you handle people will determine your leadership level.

When it comes to decision making, you have resources, Pastors, you have the state chairman, the National Executive and your area chairman. People who will have fresh perspective and maybe direct experience of your situation. Leaders you have your pastors.

When you are working with people – it’s your people skills that you must apply to win the day and make some progress.

Three great values of a good leader: Here are the top three leadership skills you can learn.

Credibility, Confidence and Enthusiasm.

In research done with 100,000 people* on what they want from their leaders over many continents and across many decades the top four qualities that people say they would look for in a leader which would help them want to follow that person are on the screen, these are the Characteristics of admired leaders…..

These qualities do not vary across cultures, ethnicities, types of organisations, genders, levels of education or age groups.

Top four – Honesty, Forward looking, Competent, Inspiring.

These top four have remained constant over time and place.

These are the top four qualities people most want from their leaders.

In further study asking what qualities makes a person believable whether they are news reporters, sales people, doctors, pastors, business managers, politicians, or civic leaders, the measure to evaluate this is…

trustworthiness, expertise and dynamism.

People who rated more highly on these were considered more credible than others.

Notice the similarities in these three to the first four…

Honesty, forward looking, competent, inspiring.

Trustworthy, Expertise and dynamism.

Credibility

  • Credibility is the foundation of leadership, if people are going to follow you, whether you are a small group leader, men’s ministry leader, children’s ministry leader, or pastor – they will ask the question can I believe this leader?
  • Can I trust their word?, Do they have the knowledge and skills to lead? And are they passionate?
  • your behaviour earns respect DWYSYWD -Do what you say you will do!
  • Your actions are more important than your words
  • stay focused on the reality that what you say is important
  • You’re authentic when you lead according to the principles that matter most to you

Confidence

People follow confidence, Self confidence is very attractive. If you can’t believe in yourself then how will others believe in you? Self confidence is rooted in your inner core belief system. It’s how you perceive yourself to be.

The choice that you must make is: will you focus on your faults and failures or will you focus on the strengths gifts and abilities that you do have.

Where do you get confidence from?

Example of David at a young age coming against Goliath.

Where did he get his confidence from?

  1. From God – there was a strong sense of God with him and spirit led confidence
  2. He had some early wins – lions bears etc.
  3. He had time to dream. 1 Sam 17: 14-16 AMP David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem. 16 The Philistine [Goliath] came out morning and evening, and took his stand for forty days.

Later in life David had some failures. Failures can rob you of confidence. Or failures can propel you to learn and regroup – fail forward. You have to work on yourself.

Confidence is about focus.

Enthusiasm

  • Enthusiasm is a choice.
  • You don’t need skill to be enthusiastic. You need to make a decision and keep focus.
  • Enthusiasm isn’t only for loud people – for a phlegmatic or melancholy person enthusiasm is always being cup half full. It’s always seeing the possibilities, its believing that there is an answer, a way through.
  • Enthusiasm starts with a smile.
  • Enthusiasm is deciding you’re going to enjoy the journey.

*  The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.

Read Full Post »

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?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »