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Christmas front

Mary sees Elizabeth – Luke 1:39-45(AMP)

39 Now at this time Mary arose and hurried to the hill country, to a city of Judah (Judea), 40 and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him. 42 And she exclaimed loudly, “Blessed [worthy to be praised] are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed [spiritually fortunate and favoured by God] is she who believed and confidently trusted that there would be a fulfilment of the things that were spoken to her [by the angel sent] from the Lord.”

The background to this story is that very recently, Mary, who is a young woman probably only about 16 years of age, is betrothed to marry a young man called Joseph. Mary receives a visit from the arc angel Gabriel, who tells Mary that she will become pregnant with the Son of God and that He will save His people from their sins.  This is obviously pretty big news! If this happened to someone today, we would most probably find it way too hard to believe! Nevertheless this was the key moment in history for God’s plan to intervene into the world of mankind who had become so estranged from God, violent and evil in his ways so that a saviour who was long promised was now about to be born.

This Saviour was the long promised Jewish Messiah, who the prophets foretold about for centuries. The bible is the most amazing example of supernatural occurrences such as the hundreds of prophecies that foretell of the birth of Jesus Christ. Such prophecies spoken and recorded centuries before His birth tell of the place of His birth, His place of growing up. His visit to Egypt. The destruction of children and babies around that time by Herod who chose to try and destroy the infant Jesus. And so on it goes. Any scientist who looks critically at these prophecies would likely come up with the conclusion that supernaturally men wrote what God inspired them to write and only God could have designed and written the bible. One scientist who took just eight of the prophecies about the coming of Jesus, calculated that the chances of any one person in history fulfilling just these eight prophecies was one chance in 10 raised the power of 54!

No doubt after the visit of Gabriel, Mary was deeply moved and starry eyed about this wonderful experience of an angelic visitation and the incredible news that God now lived on the inside of her womb!! However along with this surreal news came the hard cold realities such as morning sickness, the task of telling Joseph, the challenge of telling her parents – “Hey Mum, Dad, I’m pregnant!” You know when you’re a parent the story of the angel appearing would be lost somewhere in the stunning news that your baby daughter is PREGNANT!

When you first receive Jesus as a new Christian, you have this amazing time of wonder and sense of God being so very real, but then then the hard cold realities arrive in your scene too. You realize, “Hey my life belongs to God now, ummm, does that mean I don’t sear now? And no more sex before marriage for me! And that bit of weed I left in the car needs to get flushed etc etc….  Not that it isn’t worth it because, hey, I’ve been saved from hell; and now I know Jesus who is awesome, but yep, things need to change and there are consequences. I remember when I told all my friends at Uni that I had become a Christian. It wasn’t a bubbly gooey feeling of peace and love at the time!

For Mary it was now time for evidence. It was time for God to show up and confirm the wonder of what had just happened to her. She didn’t have to do this journey alone, God was walking the path with her all the way!!!  So Mary drops over to see Elizabeth. The angel had initiated this because at Mary’s visitation the angel tells Mary, “Your cousin Elizabeth is now pregnant also, she’s the one that was barren and couldn’t had kids!!” That pregnancy is linked to yours somehow. The reality was that Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist. He was to be the forerunner to Jesus, six months older than Jesus and at the time of his unveiling to Israel would be a prophet to declare the soon coming of Jesus.

At the first meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, the baby leaps in her womb, a sign of recognition about who just arrived, the mother of my Lord! Not only that, but Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, this is something that was not to take place for others until the death and resurrection of Jesus when all the disciples were filled with and controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Elizabeth prophesies the whole story about what the angel had told Mary. What a confirmation for Mary, and what a welcome encouragement for her to know God is doing something wonderful in me and it’s all part of a much greater plan! Elizabeth says “Blessed and favoured is the one who believed and trusted in what the angel had said!”

When you become a Christian you are inviting God on the inside of your life. There is evidence; God shows up and does amazing things for you because He wants your faith based on His word to bear fruit. At the early stages of your faith walk with Jesus you do have some challenges like telling others about your faith and having a change in your life style, but God will shows up in your world and will not leave you alone. He wants to walk this walk with you and show you that He is doing something wonderful in you and its part of a much bigger plan.

Now for so many of you it’s time to trust in and believe just as Mary did. Give your life to Jesus Christ today and allow God to come and live on the inside.

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Christmas MESSAGE     Christmas front

GOD INSIDE OF YOU – THE ANGEL COMES TO MARY

Luke 1:26-36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FAITH FOR FINANCES – #3AM Faith For Finances

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

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

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

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

Exodus 20:4-6 (AMP)

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

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

Matthew 22:34-37 (AMP)

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

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

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

IS GOD FIRST IN YOUR LIFE?

Is He first in your time?

Is He first in your emotions?

Is He first in your money?

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

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

The firstborn

Exodus 13 (AMP)

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

The first fruits.

Leviticus 23:10(AMP)

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

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

Proverbs 3:9-10 (AMP)

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

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

Joshua 6:17-19 (AMP)

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

The first tenth

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 27:30-33 (AMP)

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

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

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

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

Let’s talk motives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

 

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Heroes of Faith Full

HEROES OF THE FAITH #2AM – OVERCOMING THE ODDS

 

 

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

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

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

Listen to this story of heartbreak in the bible:

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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Heroes of Faith Middle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

 

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NATION CHANGING FAITH #5PM Small Nation Changing

Jeremiah 1:4-10 NLT

4 The Lord gave me this message:

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”  7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”

Jeremiah was about 17 when he was called by God. Imagine if you were Jeremiah.

You believe in God, so who is He to you? Only by revelation does a person come to faith and have a true and clear knowledge of the God who steps out of the pages of the bible and comes to life in your own experience. My experience of God began when I was 20 and invited to witness a church service where supernatural things were spoken of and seen. I experienced the drawing power of God’s spirit leading me to yield my life to Him. Perhaps at that very moment others around me may have decided that God was not real and the call to follow merely a human device of religion. But for me it was irresistible and a revelation of who God is and what He wants for me. If you have only experience, you are an existentialist and you have only a weak and shifting foundation on which to build your life. But if your experience matches the explanation given in the Christian scriptures then your subjective experience is supported and corroborated by the divinely inspired and infallible word of God.

Who is God to you?

  • Is He the God of your parents and you’re here because it’s been part of your practice since you were a child?
  • Is He the stained glass window subject that gives you a certain joy as you look at the beauty of a religious experience?
  • Is He the convenor of the meeting place of people you care to hang out with so that you can find friendship and entertainment?
  • Is He the idea that challenges you to prove He doesn’t exist as you pick holes in the preacher’s rhetoric?
  • Is He the semi-essential back stop prayer answering God who you turn to when things go bad?
  • Is He the wisdom and advice so needed to help you make your own way through life without making too many critical errors?
  • Is He the unfathomable God who calls you out of your own life plan and into His great purpose and your scared spitless about what He is possibly going to ask of you?

If it’s the last one – then you may be called of God. That is, you know you are called by God, while others are yet to receive such a revelation. I believe every Christian is called by God. There is the primary calling to be with Jesus. But there is also the specific calling to serve Him in a unique and purposeful way that’s only for you. Jeremiah was called to obey God and change nations. His only tools were words.

NATIONS CHANGE WHEN PEOPLE OBEY HIS CALL

ASK YOUR NEIGHBOUR – WHO IS GOD TO YOU?

Life sucked for Jeremiah, because some people didn’t like his prophecies, they tied to kill him; he was beaten and placed in stocks; later he was thrown down a well and left to starve until a foreigner rescued him, only to be thrown in prison. Couldn’t he just walk away? Did he have to obey God and suffer so much for it? He tried to walk away.

Jer 1:6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

But God says:  The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.

Jeremiah 20:7-9 7 O Lord, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled.

You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me. 8 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the Lord have made me a household joke. But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name,

his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!

But then Jeremiah admits: Jer 20:11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonour will never be forgotten.

It’s hard to resist God. He will have His way eventually, look at Jonah! But remember the Lord is good and gracious and kind and His rewards are great. He will never overlook the faithful person who serves Him and suffers for it.

What does God want for your life? Are you content to be a spectator, or do you feel the fire like Jeremiah?

WHAT DO CALLED PEOPLE DO? – THEY OBEY GOD!

Here’s what I see for this church. I see a large number of people who can’t get enough of God’s presence. They spend time in His presence listening to and singing along with great worship music. They devour the word of God, reading it, listening to it and memorising it. Everywhere they go they speak about Jesus because they are so thrilled about what He has done for them.

I see teens going into school and being radical for Jesus. They are respectful and honouring towards teachers and principals, but towards students they are like leaders who are afraid of no one. They pray for students and see healings and miracles. People follow them and ask for help. They pull together big numbers of students into lunch time meetings where people sing worship and praise, and gust speakers come and share the gospel. The students are better preachers though, and they carry God’s power on them. The principal and teachers are uncomfortable about all this but it’s impossible to slow down.

I see uni students preaching in the open air in auditoriums and at the refectory. They are bold and outspoken and even as they face opposition their words are filled with wisdom and touch people’s hearts. There are lots of urban connects on campus and in the residential colleges. In every UC group there are healings and miracles. Prayer is answered and people sense the call of God to serve their generation. Church is everywhere these Christians gather, but they come together on Sundays to bring others and worship with anointed worship leaders and hear life changing messages. They know their calling and many will go back to nations where they came from and start churches and experience a move of God.

Called people will serve God as business people who generate finance for Kingdom projects; teachers who train children to fear the Lord and Honour God; media people who will create video and graphics that accurately depict God’s love and His purpose for people, creating TV shows and movies for the public to find truth. I see called people who are lawyers who will become judges who will uphold godly values and defend the innocent and the poor. I see scientists who will discover cures for disease and discover amazing inventions to help people through God giving them revelation about the scientific world. I see called people being nation changing police members, nurses, doctors, politicians, artists, counsellors, finance workers, it people, engineers, and so many other professions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What does it feel like to be called by God?
  2. Do you think being called by God is just for some special Christians?
  3. Can  a person say “No” to God?
  4. If God has called you to do something for Him what should you do next?
  5. What should you do if you don’t feel called by God?

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tag - born for more - portrait - pos_renamed_26541

Psalm 72:19 Blessed be His glorious name forever; let the whole earth be filled with His glory! Amen and Amen!

Psalm 47:8 AMP

God reigns over the nations; God sits upon His holy throne.

God is the creator and mover of nations.

He is big and he is able to change the destiny of nations.

At some point in the future Jesus will return to earth and all nations will bow to Him. He will reign on earth for 1000 years and those who have obeyed Him will reign with Him. God wants to give you a revelation that you are part of the biggest movement and events on earth – the church. The church is not small, impotent or insignificant, it is His bride and central focus – Jesus will use the church to bring His will to pass on earth. God can change nations in short periods of time. He puts one up and takes another down. God moves on nations according to His mercy and He hears the cry of His people.

God’s people, the Israelites, were living in Egypt after the time when Jacob and Joseph and the family went down to Egypt after the selling of Joseph into slavery. After many years a new Pharaoh arose and forgot the good that Joseph and his people did for Egypt. Now they were oppressed into slavery. And soon their cry arose to heaven. God help us. It was time for a deliverer.

Ex 2:23AMP  However, after a long time [nearly forty years] the king of Egypt died; and the Israelites were sighing and groaning because of the bondage. They kept crying, and their cry because of slavery ascended to God.

God raises up a deliverer. Who will He raise up in Australia? He is looking for people like you to lead others out of oppression and into the Promised Land. There’s a call going out. Can you hear it? Often young people hear it because they haven’t got the loud voices of mortgages, broken marriages, troubled teenage children and disappointment speaking to them. It’s been a pleasure to give up a career in Electrical Engineering and serve Jesus in the church. What will matter in 100 years from now?

In 1991, 1992, 1993, INC sent teams into Kiev in the Ukraine, to preach the gospel. We found a people crying out for God. For 70 years Communism had dominated the former Soviet Union, saying there is no God. The result was oppression, poverty, and millions of broken lives. Now they were ready for the answer – the gospel.

We preached the word and God was changing the city and the nation.

Is there a cry? Will God hear from us, from you, about this nation? Do we cry out to God about our nation? Does it bother us that Australia has largely abandoned faith in God? Does it concern you that the church is ridiculed by Main Stream Media? Does it touch your heart when family Violence rises continually, when ICE addiction threatens countless lives, when the State government bans religious education is schools?

What do you want for your life? Is your life focussed on happiness or getting things, or having a dream job, or living in a place where you desire to be? What dreams and goals fill your mind and heart? Essentially, what are you living for?

I’m living for Australia for Christ. It’s a focus for life. I want to be a part of Jesus’ plan for this nation. Think big about who our God is, don’t be or feel oppressed by lack, ungodliness, ungodly humanity around us, for God has big plans for the whole earth and for Australia.

So how should we respond?

  1. Let God know…. I surrender my whole life to you, everything I am, everything I’ve got
  2. Serve Him wholeheartedly walk away from sin, pray, read your bible, go to church every chance you get,
  3. Be part of a UC group, serve others.
  4. Study and seek to grow as a leader.
  5. Find your gift and calling.
  6. Work hard, live a passionate life, never give up.

What’s your Price? What will you sell out for? What will take your attention, occupy your mind, steal your focus away from the call of God?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. List all the things that you think stop you from serving God wholeheartedly.
  2. Now ask each other who in the bible had similar objections to serving God?
  3. In a hundred years from now, what will be the most important things to you? (Yes you’re dead and you’re in heaven)
  4. Can you hear a cry in Australia?
  5. What is tour gift or calling to serve God?

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