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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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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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