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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

hearts-on-fire-intercessory-prayer

One day many years ago I prayed for a young man called Ross who had decided to move back to Townsville from Brisbane. I could see in him such potential. I prayed for him and I asked God if He would bring him back to Brisbane to serve in our church again. He did come back and He made a great impact for God in our movement. What might have happened if I never prayed that prayer?

Luke 18:1 (AMP) Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart,

Prayer is the power of God in your mouth. Prayer is your lifeline to heaven. Every Christian believer has a relationship with the God of the impossible. If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to His children. You and I are not standing afar off asking a reticent God for His favour. We are His adopted children. We are His offspring the apple of His eye and joint heirs with Jesus. Will He not answer our prayers when we call upon Him?

Some Christians may be put off prayer because they think it’s boring or they find no answers. But the truth is they haven’t entered into the deep relationship that comes with knowing Jesus intimately. How can I not converse with the one I love? It’s not at first about getting something from God but it’s all about relationship with Him.

To be born again is to be in relationship with Him; we are now sons and daughters of the most high God. Now once you have relationship, then His heart is transferred to you and you have now got His desires and His passion for this world. To make His love known and to bring His kingdom to earth. Now we become His co-labourers and engaged in the work of the kingdom – to be about our Father’s business.

So why pray? – It’s life giving, it’s effective and it changes your future for the better.

If there is one thing I want you to know from this message today it is this – You have the power to change the world through your prayer.

1 Samuel 1:1-19 (ESV)

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.[a] 6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

 12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

 19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.

Here is a prayer that changed the world! Hannah prays for a son and his future is to be a prophet in Israel. Samuel was one of the greatest men of God in the Old Testament. He guided Israel and established the reign of King David and walked in honour and integrity all the days of his life. Will your prayers change the world?

YES THEY WILL!         YES THEY WILL!       YES THEY WILL!

Why should we pray? It’s life giving, it’s effective and it changes your future for the better. Prayer invades everything we do. Here in this Church we have a high value on prayer. We see prayer requests answered all the time. Last week we prayed for a man with a bad back and this week he told us how his back is completely healed and the physio gave him a good report. Lots of prayer requests go up on our facebook page every week and people are praying for one another. Prayer takes place in our small groups. Believers pray for each other, for the loved ones we know who need a miracle and for the church, the government and world affairs.

We meet for prayer in the Kid Town room every weekday morning from 6-7 am. Everyone is welcome. This has been our practice for about 20 years. That’s a lot of prayers. Look at the prayer discipleship that has occurred through this time as we have mentored and developed people who came to pray and seek God with us.

At HUB leaders meeting we pray, teach on prayer and form a teamwork that is powerful. At certain times we call the church together to pray as a whole. In this corporate prayer environment we storm the heavens and we make ground for the Kingdom. Such a prayer tie will take place today right after lunch at 12.30-1.30 here in the Auditorium.

Let’s go back to 1 Samuel and learn about prayer…

Hannah had a good husband. She was blessed. She lived in a healthy environment; but she had no kids! It’s normal to want to have children. In this time when Hannah lived, a woman’s worth was enhanced by her ability to bear children for her husband. Although so many things were good in her life there was one thing that was not good. A big gap existed in her life experience and she was not happy! She wanted to reproduce. As believers we want to reproduce too! We want to see others come to faith. Yet countless Christian believers live their whole life and never lead another person to Christ. And yet someone led them to Christ or at least prayed for them. They long to reproduce but nothing is happening. The one big difference between them and Hannah is that Hannah prayed!

It gets worse! She was taunted by the other wife, Peninnah. As if it wasn’t hard enough being childless, now she must endure ridicule from fatso! But actually who’s the problem here? Look at verse six, the Lord had closed her womb! Thanks a lot God!! As is life isn’t hard enough here, you have to come along and close my womb for fun so can watch the Hannah and fatso show for a few laughs!

However, God had a plan. He always does, and we, of course, are NOT smarter than God and we don’t know everything. He needed a breakthrough in Israel. He needed a good man to bring the God life back to this backslidden nation. But where would he find a good man? It had to be birthed in passion and desire.

Why don’t you be honest – your life is not that bad! There’s a lot of things working for you. You live in the best nation on earth, you live in the most liveable city on the planet, voted for 5 years running! Furthermore for most of us count our blessings in our health and our family life. BUT… there’s something in your world not working for you. There’s something that you long for and it’s not just a selfish request – this is something really important. Have you considered two things?

  1. God created the problem.
  2. In solving it there’s a much bigger purpose behind it.

God wants your heart first, He wants to hear from you. He has a covenant with you, you’re His son, daughter, agent, and soldier. But there something bigger at stake too. There’s purpose in this prayer request you’re going to make. It had wider implications. If God is behind this lack, this need, this gap in your life – then He has plans. HE WANTS YOUR ATTENTION!! Are you going to pray or whinge?

Hannah prayed!

Here’s seven things about Hannah’s prayer you must know…

  1. Hannah goes to pray (Vs 9) she is compelled by passion. Prayer isn’t a ritual or a duty but it is fuelled by passion.
  2. Did you know that desire is the volume knob of prayer? Making a loud noise doesn’t impress God but intense desire breaks through every barrier. Mark 11:24 (ESV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. This word “ask” means to crave for, to desire. It has a strong sense of meaning. It’s not casual, it means to make a demand!
  3. Hannah makes a vow. This is not a bargain. This is not Hannah saying, “If you do this I will do this.” This is surrender! Hannah is saying, this is going to cost me something. I’m committed to the outcome. I’m willing to pay the price, and all I get, it’s not for me, I acknowledge it all belongs to you. In the Kingdom, if we can get this… God wants the first part. First commandment, First love. First tenth of your income. Seek first the kingdom and then all these things shall be added. Are you getting it?
  4. Hannah was misunderstood. Eli thought she was drunk! Passionate pray-ers will be misunderstood. Just pray quietly people will say to you. Don’t go overboard. Pray with dignity and properness, pray with decorum! Religious prayers, words without meaning, dribble without passion never moved the hand of God. Hannah prayed with bitterness of soul. Look at Verse 10 and 16 “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. All along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Sounds like a deep prayer that’s meant for Gods ears not people.
  5. Hannah found agreement. Eli listened and he heard her cry and his immediate response was, “Lord grant this prayer.” There is power in agreement. When you can find someone to listen then share that big passion and pray together.
  6. Hannah found immediate peace. That is an evidence of faith. Hannah was greatly distressed but after the prayer with Eli she had peace.
  7. Hannah received her answer. Nine months later she had a son and called him Samuel and He was mighty for God. She gave him up to the Lord to serve in the house of God but soon God gave her five other children after that, three sons and two daughters. (! Sam 2:21)

Now it’s your turn to pray. What do you need changed? Will you pray with passion? Will you come into agreement? Will you know when you have broken through? It’s time to change our City and our Nation. The need is great and the power is in your mouth. Let’s pray with power confidence and passion and se God’s hand move through us. If there is one thing I would say to do from this message it would be – change one thing this week to give yourself more to prayer.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Are you a “pray as you go” person or do you need to get alone with God behind closed doors?
  2. Tell us about your prayer journey.
  3. How can we know how much prayer is enough prayer?
  4. What makes you want to pray?
  5. What stops you praying?

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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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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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Did any heads turn when you used faith? Activate Faith

Did anyone gasp when you used faith?

Did anyone criticise you when you stepped out in faith?

Does this video make you squeamish?

The Story…

 

Matthew 14:22-30 (MSG)

Walking on the Water

22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

In this story Peter chooses to obey Jesus even though all the natural knowledge and instincts were telling him, “No don’t do it!”

Have you heard the voice of God? It’s that nagging feeling that you can’t get rid of. It’s like you conscience gnawing away at you on the inside except when it’s God’s voice there’s an urgency attached to it. You can ignore it for 30 years but it still feels more urgent every year.

Peter turned heads with his big day out. When was he last time people noticed your faith?

It’s vital to hear the voice of God

We get caught up in the hum drum of daily lives. God waits patiently by.   He has already spoken the command to us and we are preoccupied with the petty unimportant trivialities of life.

Are you ready to step out of the boat and activate your faith?

 

What has He called you to do?

MY STORY

When I was at Uni – I wanted to serve God. That was passion, commitment and dedication talking. But what was God saying? “Get a job!”

Can you hear God say what you don’t want to hear?

Then later when I’m settled into to a high paying job, God calls – “Now come and work for me” So now I ask God directly, What do you want me to do? He responds with these words etched into my heart; “What good is an arrow that never flies, what good is a wind that never blows, what good is a fire that never burns?”

God usually speaks in a way that you least expect and couldn’t make it up.

I was expecting a “Yes” or “Wait on me” or “Your time has not yet come”

Isn’t it time to activate your faith?

So many times we have heard it and we discount that word.

 

Obedience has a cost.

The disciples

Luk 5:10  And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon (Peter). And Jesus said to Simon, Have no fear; from now on you will be catching men!

Luk 5:11  And after they had run their boats on shore, they left everything and  joined Him as His disciples and sided with His party and accompanied Him.

MY STORY

Five years at Uni. I had a new job an Electrical Engineer paying well. My whole career was ahead of me. I came to work for a church in an unskilled position for a quarter of the pay. Then after about 6 months the church went through a financial crisis and my pay was halved. We learned faith. Is God our provider or not?

WHEN WILL YOU GET OUT OF THE BOAT AND OBEY GOD?

Fear will stop you obeying God.

Peter

Mat 14:26  They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

Mat 14:27  But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Mat 14:28  Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

The mind is often an adversary in your walk with God. It will think of a huge number of reasons why obeying God is a bad idea. Think of Peter’s dilemma. How experts would be happy to give you advice that walking on water is just impossible?

Fear will target your insecurity.

If I obey God how will I provide for myself?

Wrong – God is your provision.

Fear will target what others think.

If I obey God every one will think that I am a fanatic, unbalanced, crazy even!

Wrong – Psa_118:6  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? [AMP]

Ultimately, eternity will tell the story of your obedience.

In a million years from now – what will really be important to you?

What decisions will really impact eternity?

2Co 5:10  For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. (AMP)

I want to draw your attention to what God has called you to do. Not the day to day little acts of obedience, though they are important, but to what the big picture call is saying to you.

That has God asked of you – what has He called you to do?

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO ACTIVATE YOUR FAITH?

Maybe for you, activating your faith looks like this….

  1. You decide to go to Schoolies with Red Frogs this month.
  2. You decide to give that amount God put on your heart for Kingdom Advance Offering.
  3. You stand up in class and share your faith.
  4. You quit your job because you actually believe there’s something better for you.
  5. You decide to follow Jesus in spite of what your family and friends say or think.

Put aside fears, forget what others will say about you, look past the inconvenience of today and get out of the boat!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. When was the last time you were scared to act in faith?
  2. So you failed once, why wouldn’t you have another go?
  3. When was the time you stepped out in faith and you’re proud of it -tell your story.
  4. What is the faith challenge you face right now?
  5. When will you step out in faith?

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FAITH ACTIVATION   #1AM Activate Faith

This year we have been sharing about faith the whole year. I hope it has been a year of growth for you. Have you noticed that your faith is growing? Have you activated your faith? How do you actually tell if your faith is activated?

Remember the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water? I hope that sometimes you feel like Peter as he stepped out onto the water that day. The feeling of sheer panic, exhilaration and bold courage all mixed in together that makes you feel truly alive!!!!!!

That’s stepping out in faith and activating your faith. Maybe for you it looks like speaking up boldly and sharing your faith in the office where you work even though you are fearful of repercussions. Maybe for you it’s choosing to be a giver even when money is tight because you have a confidence that God will supply all your needs.

Here’s a story about faith activation.

Mark 2:1-5 ESV

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus seeing their faith…

Did you know God sees everything? He’s what’s called Omnipresent. He’s everywhere. He’s watching over you all the time. There’s never a moment in your life where God is not present with you in reality. God is never far away.

“Jesus seeing their faith” – faith is something you can see!!!

CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR FAITH? – How would they see it?

Is your faith activated?

About four years ago Chris and I decided to go to the gym. We did this because wanted to be healthy, to be fit and to not loose muscle mass as we age. We have been going an average of 3 times a week for four years. See Tas for evidence. Tas sees all!!! If I said I want to be fit, but then never went to the gym, then I would just be full of hot air!! There would be no evidence that I really want to be fit. But if you see me physically present at the gym then you know I actually believe that I want to get fit.

Do you get it?

My actions show what I truly believe, better than what I say.

The truth is I also want to be “faith-fit” I want to develop my faith so that it grows and gets “pecs”! But can I get more faith, or grow in faith, just by talking about it? No, I must do something to show my faith.

Do you believe that the bible is divinely inspired and the infallible word of God? If the answer is, yes, and you actually believe that, then you would demonstrate that by reading the bible lots! So your record of bible reading is the evidence of how much you believe that it’s the word of life and how hungry you are to receive that life.

All throughout your life you are acting and behaving in ways that demonstrate what you really believe deep down on the inside. What you really have as values in your heart will be shown by your actions.

So if you want to be faith fit, what does that look like?

Maybe it would look like this…

  1. You would be active in inviting people to one of the 5 services for Christmas in December.
  2. You will come to the Kingdom Advance dinner this Saturday night and sow financially into the missions projects of our church.
  3. You are praying for the people you love around you.
  4. You head off to your UC group because you believe you have a place to love give and serve one another there.

When you have faith it shows!

James 2:14-26 ESV

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Faith without works is dead – it’s all talk!!

Abraham showed by his amazing actions that he truly believed what God had spoken to him. He believed that his son would be the beginning of countless offspring. So when God asked him to sacrifice his son, he just believed that somehow he would live! He would either be raised or God would let him live.

THAT’S EXTREME FAITH – BETTER MAKE SURE YOU HEARD FROM GOD!

Abraham could have said I believe in God and what He said, but that would not have been sufficient. God said, “Show me.”

Rahab the harlot lived in the wall if the city of Jericho. She heard about Israel and decided “I know whose side I want to be on!” and she hid the spies that came to scout the land. They made her a promise. When we come back with our army we will spare you and anyone in your family (same promise today) if you hang a scarlet thread out the window to indicate that this is where you live. She obeyed – she showed her faith by her works.

Some years ago Chris and I met a great young man in one of the restaurants here at Plenty Valley Town Centre. His name was Nick. We shared our faith with him. Then over the years we kept on bumping into him often in the shopping centre. He had changed jobs but we saw him every six months or so and had a short chat.

Then about two weeks ago we bumped into him again this time shopping in Woolworths. He had a story to tell about how he felt God was trying to reach out to him. I shared with him that Jesus loved him and wanted to reach into his life and gave him a card with the church address. Then only last Thursday he showed up at church unannounced. (Often I’m not here on a Thursday) and he asked me an important question. Within 15 minutes he had invited Jesus into his heart.

Faith without works is dead. If you believe that Jesus died for each person you meet, then you take action and share with them the good news.

So let’s have a passion to get fit!! Faith fit!! You can get faith fit by…

  1. Reading your bible regularly.
  2. Listening to the podcasts of all the faith messages.
  3. Decide to step out of the boat and act in faith.

Here’s a way to take action to show your growing faith….

  1. Invite people to come this Christmas to one of the services where we have a special Christmas presentation every Sunday morning and night in December.
  2. Give financially to the Kingdom Advance Dinner this Saturday night.
  3. If you haven’t done so yet – give your life to Christ.

May each of us experience faith activation now and on into the future.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever had that feeling that Peter might have had when he tried to step out of the boat and walk on the water? A kind of feeling of sheer panic, exhilaration and bold courage all mixed in together that makes you feel truly alive? If so what was your challenge?
  2. What holds you back to step out in faith?
  3. Are there some areas of life where you have faith and other areas where you find it hard to have faith?
  4. How do you decide to step out in faith?
  5. In what ways can you build and increase your faith?

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Faith For Finances

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

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

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

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

First of all how do we define rich?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is generous, Romans 8:32 (AMP)

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

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

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

He wants to do good to His children.

Matthew 7:11(AMP)

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

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

The church has held doctrines of poverty and prosperity

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

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

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

Philippians 4:19 (AMP)

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

2 Cor 9:8 (AMP)

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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Mission Impossible #2amMission Impossible 1

To say that God is a miracle working God is pretty obvious right? After all He created the heavens and the earth. That’s about the biggest miracle of them all. The question that we are most interested in is; will God provide a miracle for me? Our own need of a miracle is maybe a little lower of the scale of impossible compared with creating the heavens and the earth but nevertheless it’s still impossible for us to achieve on our own and so we need God’s help.

I remember the first miracle I ever saw was when as a brand new Christian I was about 20 years of age and while doing my own car repairs I was really frustrated, which happened a lot to me!!! I was fixing my brakes on the car and having taken off a brake line with attached nut I had made the mistake of cross threading the nut and ruining the thread. Thus meant buying a whole new brake line and nut, expensive, hard to find and delaying. So after a few expletives I “told God” to fix it if He was so powerful!! Well He did! And after washing the nut in petrol and looking again there was a fresh new thread on the nut. I was amazed and humbled and quickly apologized to God for my impatient outburst.

Once you have seen a real unexplainable miracle, you’re spoiled for life. You can’t go back to normal living anymore. You are now in the realm of expecting a lifetime of miracles from your amazing heavenly Father. Now I can tell you about lots I miracles that I didn’t receive as well as many that I did receive. The exciting thing is that as with everything in God, there is not secret formula for getting prayer answered, it’s about faith. It’s about getting faith and maintaining faith.

My first big failure in asking for a miracle was as a Youth Pastor in Brisbane, we had planned a massive outdoor concert in the King George square in the middle of Brisbane city one Saturday. It was to be an outdoor concert to use music and testimonies to preach the gospel and see many souls won for Christ. The weather forecast was not good and we started to pray early, a few days out. The more we prayed the more the clouds came and the more the rain set in. On the day “in faith” we even set up all the staging and sound equipment in the rain in expectation of a miracle that the weather would clear and we could miraculously go ahead. It never happened. Right up until the start time it was literally bucketing down rain and we had to dismantle the stage and remove all the equipment in the pouring rain. I was deeply disappointed because we had lost an opportunity to preach to lost people, we had seemingly not received from God a miracle that was obviously in tune with His will and purpose and we had worked hard in the pouring rain in difficult circumstances for no gain. I informed all our youth that we would meet at church that night instead and have the concert there. It’s funny how God has a different idea of what we need and that afternoon despite being deeply disappointed I prepared a new message to preach at the concert that night at church. Some of the singers and people sharing made awkward comments about the disappointing morning we had witnessed; but God had a plan and God really helped me turn it around into a big challenge for our youth people to press into God no matter what the outcome or experience that we faced.

The biggest miracles I have ever seen are salvation miracles, where lives are changed by the grace of God and people’s lives are turned around by God. Some of those miracles are sitting here today. This month our theme is Mission Impossible. It’s a focus on how to receive a miracle from God. To receive a miracle you need miracle faith. It’s having that audacious faith that against all odds you believe that God has a miracle for you. You never stop to think whether you deserve it; you never try and figure out if you have enough faith, you just charge the gates of heaven for a massive miracle that you demand from God!

Here’s a great example of that kind of faith from God’s word. The background of this story is that the people of Israel had crossed over the Jordan River and now are beginning to invade the land of Canaan. They have had one defeat at Ai and many victories like Jericho. The next big city to fall was Gibeon. These mighty warriors knew what was good for them and decided to surrender rather than die and became Israel’s slaves. The surrounding Canaanite kings weren’t very impressed with that and decided to attack Gibeon and teach them a lesson.

Joshua 10:1-15(NLT)

1Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies. 2 He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.

3 So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. 4 “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.” 5 So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.

6 The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”

7 So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. 8 “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

9 Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.

12 On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said,

“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,

and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.

Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!

15 Then Joshua and the Israelite army returned to their camp at Gilgal.

Lessons from Joshua’s miracle.

  1. Joshua was going about the task of completing God’s will and purpose when the need for this miracle arose. He didn’t need a miracle to defend the Gibeonites. He set out to defend them as a natural course of action that continued the Israelite journey to conquer the land of Canaan and take over all the cities. It wasn’t until the middle of the battle that he realized he need more daylight hours to complete the task. Let’s be about God’s business. What has He asked of you? What is your calling and the task He has given you in this vineyard? When you are about the Father’s business there’s a bigger expectation that you can call upon the Father’s resources.
  2. Joshua heard from God straight away. God said “Go up I have given them into your hand.” Hearing from God is so helpful in moving forward. Be in His word and listening in prayer, He will be speaking to you as God is always speaking, we just need to make the time to be still and know that He is God and hear the instructions we need from Him.
  3. Joshua was passionate. He and his army left one afternoon and travelled all night to reach Gibeon and then began the fight. You can be tired but if you have passion then your energy comes and you can do amazing things. You will be amazed at what you can achieve when you have passion. Laziness, apathy and “she’ll be right” attitude will rob you of energy and determination to see great things take place for you and your family.
  4. The first miracle showed God was with them. As they gave chase to the enemy, God rained down hailstones upon them and God killed more of the enemy with hailstones than Joshua did with the sword. When you are believing for a miracle God will show you He is at work around you. Look for the evidences no matter how small that God is working for you. Let an attitude of thankfulness surround your thinking.
  5. You’ve received one miracle keep going and believe for another. The hailstones were a huge miracle for Joshua and a great victory was obtained by them. Joshua could have been content with that and waited until the next day to continue the battle. After all they were already been awake 36 hours in this battle, so a night’s sleep would not have been out of the question. However this is where Joshua shines as a great leader. He lifts his vision for something much greater when any other leader would have settled for less and he asks for the biggest miracle since creation. Moon stand still and Sun stand still. It’s time to stretch that 36 hours into 60 hours for victory! Don’t stop at victory when you’re believing God, you’re on a roll keep on going and ask really big. Ask God for an even bigger miracle, now is the time when your faith is the biggest it has ever been.

What is the miracle you need today? Determine that you are going after it. It may take a moment or it may take a long time. No matter, God delights in showing Himself strong on your behalf. Read this story through and gain encouragement from it. Realise that God is on your side and He will be working for you.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Can anyone in your Urban Connect group share about miracles that have happened to them?

2. What about sharing also about miracles that didn’t happen.

3. What kind of lessons do we learn when the miracles don’t happen?

4. What kind of lessons do we learn when the miracles do happen?

5. List all the miracles needed in your group, write them down, begin to pray and thank God for these miracles. Remember to tell everyone when prayer is answered. tick them off one buy one.

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