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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Love’

LOVE OF THE FATHER   #1 AMLove of the Father Individual

Today is Father’s day and this month is the theme LOVE OF THE FATHER. I want you to know that this month we are not talking about bad fathers, we are going to celebrate the great fathers in the house. Today we celebrate all the fathers. Each Sunday we will be speaking about the Love of our Heavenly Father; how strong it is, how unending it is, how much we need it. When any person receives a revelation of the Love of the Father, they will find healing, they will find wholeness, they will find acceptance, and they will find their rightful place in life. But first we need to talk about separation.

STORY

I have four sons and as pastor I have had the privilege of marrying them to their sweethearts. One of the most emotional times I have ever experienced was conducting my first son’s wedding. I think I cried more than the mother of the bride! One of the biggest hits that I wasn’t prepared for was the moment when, after the reception was over, the first son drove away with his new bride to begin their new life together. I broke down. It was a real sense of loss, a sense of – this boy is now out of my life forever. Twenty-one years of raising him and now he’s gone.

I remember way back to the time when Chris was pregnant with our first child. I began to think about what we were in for being a parent. I asked myself the question, “Will I be a good parent? Will I be able to provide for my family? Will I be able to raise my children with wisdom?” The responsibility seemed daunting.

It is a big change when you move from manhood to Fatherhood. Fatherhood now means you’re responsible for more than just yourself and your wife; you are now bringing a new life into this world, and you are responsible for their welfare and success and there seems to be a lot of things that can go wrong. The child you’re raising can make choices too. That child can choose to do wrong, they can choose to walk away; and although you want the very best for them, as a father you cannot always control the outcome.

When your son or daughter walks away, that’s a pain that no father can bear. Let’s look at the pain of one father in the bible. Luke 15:11-24.

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (NLT)

Sometimes sons or daughters walk away. The pain of that experience for a Father is intense. It’s a nightmare for the Mother too, and she worries overtime about what will happen to them. The Father will question himself, was I a good parent? Was I firm enough? Did I give them enough wisdom and instruction? Did I train them up to face life?

Let’s look at the Father in this story. He is gracious, he lets the son go, even though he knows full well that it’s a foolish move; but there’s some things you’ve got to learn the hard way. There’s two really powerful thoughts in this story.  The father saw the son coming home “a long way off” – that proves he was waiting and watching for him to come, there was hope. Secondly the father ran to meet him. This speaks of passion, acceptance and joy.

No matter what you have done in your life, no matter what mess you got yourself into, no matter how stupid you were, no matter how many people hate you and reject you; there’s a heavenly Father who is waiting for you to come home. There’s someone who loves you unconditionally. Look and see and feel the Father’s heart today as you watch this Father stand at the farm gate waiting for the lost son to come home. There’s hope in that father’s heart for restoration and moving right back to full sonship. Did he deserve it? – No! But here’s the power of the Father’s love: He made a way for you to come back and find forgiveness.

When you have “come to your senses” like this prodigal son; God’s love for you is total acceptance! His generosity is complete with restoration to full sonship, inclusion in the family and bountiful provision. This great story illustrates the LOVE OF THE FATHER. All that is required to receive that love is the attitude the Prodigal Son had – he came to his senses, or as it says in another translation, “he came to himself” it’s that realisation that I cannot make it on my own, I need the Father. Consider the restoration from the father which we will unpack in coming weeks. He gave the Son the robe which speaks of righteousness – being in right standing or right relationship with God. He gave him the ring which speaks of sonship and authority. Not a hired hand but a full son of the father. He gave him sandals which speak of provision because servants have bare feet but sons have sandals provided. He gave the son a fatted calf which speaks of the sacrifice that is pleasing to God and the highest form of celebration. Not only that but it shows the preparation of the calf over time as though the father was expecting the son to one day return. As we unpack these ideas later I am praying that you will experience from God a revelation of His righteousness, His gift of sonship, His provision and His joy of celebration over your salvation and acceptance by the Father.

This story is dear to God’s heart because he lived through it in times past.

Listen to this passage, Gen 3:22-24

22 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings[e] have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” 23 So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. 24 After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.(NLT)

Imagine the pain of God the Father as He forced Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden on that tragic day when Adam chose to disobey God and brought upon himself the result of sin – separation from God. However a plan was in place from before the foundations of the earth that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, would choose to come and die on the cross and receive the judgement due to us all. By standing in our place He suffered and died for us that we may be pardoned and be forgiven if we too would come to ourselves and realise our great need of God.

The LOVE OF THE FATHER is life changing and healing. He has made a way for you and me to come home to Him, to be forgiven and completely restored to full sonship. Of course we don’t deserve it, but so great is His love to save and forgive and heal that if we will only turn to Him we can receive everything.

Will you begin the journey today?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Why did the son leave and take his inheritance money?

2. What was it that made him come to his senses?

3. Do you think many people come to their senses like that?

4. What did the Father restore to him when he arrived home?

5. How much of those things do you feel you have received from God yourself?

 

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LOVE PRAYS  # 1  amhearts-on-fire-intercessory-prayer

Why pray?

Have you ever felt powerless? Have you ever felt like you desperately wanted to change the unchangeable? Have you longed for a friend or loved one to come to Christ but your sharing of faith falls on deaf ears? Then you need to learn to pray and become confident in prayer.

MY UNCLE

Talk about saved from the fire!

My great uncle was so anti Jesus that he told me when I got saved, “Don’t ever mention that name in my house ever.” But my great aunt got saved watching the TV program that our church ran in the late 70’s. Then one day my great uncle had a stroke. He went to hospital and was in a bad way with one side of his body paralysed. I went to see him and all the family came. He was about 76. Two days later his wife dies in her sleep. Wow, if my great uncle finds out that she’s gone he has nothing to live for, surely he will breath his last. I prayed. All the family left me alone as I told him. He was very visibly shaken. I told him if you ever want to see you darling wife again the only way is to ask Jesus to forgive you and save you, if that’s what you want then squeeze my hand. He did! I prayed a prayer with him and ten hours later he died and went to glory. That’s cutting a bit fine! I prayed a desperate prayer because LOVE PRAYS.

When my kids were very small, they would get sick with things like tonsillitis and some nights Chris and I would be up for hours as they cried and were very distressed. They wouldn’t go to sleep so we took turns and paced the floor with them in our arms and we prayed. Were we tired? – yes! Did we want to go to bed? – Yes. But LOVE PRAYS.

As a youth leader in Brisbane one of my larrikin youth contracted a melanoma cancer and he had a brain tumour. He had an operation but another tumour grew back. He was desperately ill and I stayed up all night at the hospital praying for him in his final hours. He literally died in my arms. I didn’t enjoy being there, I didn’t see the victory I wanted, I didn’t see his mates there, it was just his mum and dad and me. I prayed because LOVE PRAYS.

We went through some really tough days in the Brisbane church. At the time I was the Assistant pastor and the senior pastor fell into adultery. I began to pray in earnest for the church and for the sheep. I could see the great damage that could be caused and how the devil could have a field day with this situation. It even went to the newspapers. At the time I rose early to pray for the church and God showed me a picture of a great tower similar to the high voltage power line towers that had been broken down. It represented the church and as I prayed over the next three years I watched it grow back up to its former strength. Jesus loves His church and I love what He loves so I prayed. I prayed for a long time because LOVE PRAYS.

At one point the church in Brisbane was deeply struggling, I was deeply struggling too and I knew that working with the staff of the church would be so much easier and more effective if a couple who had been posted overseas to New Zealand could come back to the Brisbane staff. It was impossible as they were senior pastors of a church in Auckland. But I stood on the beach at the Sunshine Coast one night and looked over to the far distant land of New Zealand over the horizon and I prayed a prayer of desperation. I shouted to God, “Send this couple back to help me.” Two months later they were back on staff in Brisbane. I loved the church and wanted to see it flourish and grow. I prayed because LOVE PRAYS.

When I came back from Thailand this year on June 16 I felt God calling me to separate myself to pray for the city. I have felt His call to do this for a long time, but finally I obeyed and since June 16 I have been in this church at 5am each week day to pray for two hours. I love the lost people of this city so I pray for the people of this city. I pray because LOVE PRAYS.

Jesus Prayed for the church, for us. John 17: 9,20,21.

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying (requesting) for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they belong to You.

20 Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,

21 That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me. (AMP)

In Ephes 5:25 it tells us husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church. Jesus prayed for the church because LOVE PRAYS.

LOVE wants the best, wants the answer, wants to see breakthrough. However we realise that we can’t do anything in our own strength, so we pray because prayer releases God’s strength and power.

Mark 11:24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].(AMP)

Matt 7:7 Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.(AMP)

Prayer connects you to eternity.

Prayer connects you to impossibilities.

Prayer connects you to the divine.

Prayer makes the impossible possible.

Prayer is unavoidable if you’re hoping for more.

Prayer is like breathing to a Healthy believer.

Prayer lets you live in the future of hopes fulfilled.

Prayer sets you down beside God and makes you part of His team.

Prayer is lifeline to all your resources.

Prayer is a conversation with eternity.

Prayer opens your heart to God, your eyes to the spirit and your ears to hear his voice.

Prayer is more than words.

Leonard Ravenhill says “The ministry of prayer is open to all.  It is the highest of all human offices.  The spiritual adolescents say ‘I’ll not go out tonight, it’s only the prayer meeting.’  It may be that satan has little cause to fear most preaching.  Yet past experiences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God’s people praying.”

Jesus was in His greatest moment of need, the garden. See this clip…

http://youtu.be/bsHH0HYgmSs    Also see Matt 26:36-45.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray. And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed. Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me. And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire. And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour? All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again a second time He went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep. So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words. Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of especially wicked sinners [whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God]. (Matthew 26:36-45 AMP)

In His moment of agony, He cried out to His disciples, will you not watch with me one hour? So great the need; yet so lacking the response. It did change later when these men were filled with the Holy Spirit! At Jesus moment of terror He needed someone to stand with him and intercede. He needed the support of men who were with Him in the battle, but perhaps God ordained that He faced all that alone, so that He could carry your lack of support and offer you the answer that you are never alone because he was alone for you.

Now that Jesus work is complete in terms of atonement he sits at the right hand of the Father on high. And now He has a great need again and he asks for your support. Once again He needs someone to stand for Him and intercede. He needs the support of men who are with Him in the battle. Will the church fail Him and fall asleep again as the early disciples did? Will He receive the team and the support He longed for and lacked back then in this current quest He so passionately leads. Here is His quest; His great commission…

Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples and teaching all things I have shown you. Praying for all men everywhere, because I desire that none should perish, but that all may come to repentance. (Matt 28:19-20; 1Tim 2:1-4; 2 Peter 3:9)

The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who not believe lest they should see the light of the glorious gospel. (2 Cor 4:4) but we have power over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19)

It’s our turn now. If we love the ones God has given us, we will pray. If we love the people of this city, we will pray. If we care for our nation, we will pray.

Because LOVE PRAYS.

Here’s what to do now…

  1. Pray for your lost friends and relatives in your own time. Make a record of your prayer times in the Prayer Tally website.
  2. Find a way to pray with others. Here’s some ways to do that…
    1. Find a friend and pray together.
    2. Pray at UC group
    3. Pray at church Sunday morning 9:30-9:50am
    4. Pray at early morning prayer times at Kid Town Room 6-7am weekdays.
    5. Plan to be at the prayer storm event August 30 7-9pm.
  3. Learn to pray by praying with others, reading books, listening to the podcasts.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. List the things/people you love in descending order – Do you pray most for he ones you love most?

2. Do you find that you pray most when things are not as they should be – when there’s trouble?

3. Do you have a confidence that God hears you when you pray?

4. Consider deeply the lost people around you. Do you love them?

5. Will you pray for God’s mercy to be extended toward them and draw them to the Father?

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LOVE REACHES OUT #4PMreaches out

YOUR ASSIGNMENT SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT…

MY GOD STORY

I was not found in church growing up. I had no knowledge of the gospel. When I was twenty and studying at uni, we had a team of people from the church I am now part of come to the uni and perform some musical items and someone preached. A friend, who was studying in my course, was a Christian and he was connected to this church. When they invited me to come along I considered the invitation and decided to go to the church that coming Sunday night. As I arrived with my friend from uni I was amazed at the size of the church (about 700 people) and the friendliness of the people. I saw other amazing things. People were healed and fell over under the power of the Holy Spirit. Others told their story of how God had set them free from alcoholism, drug addiction and broken marriages. There was something going on here!

At the conclusion of the service an appeal was made for people to respond and give their lives to Christ. Although moved and compelled, I resisted as it seemed too hard for my mind to accept it all so quickly. Later a wise person said to me, “Just pray and ask Jesus to show Himself to you. If He’s real then you will know, if He’s not real nothing will happen and you can get on with the rest of your life.”

Sounded reasonable to me; so I set about asking Jesus to show Himself to me over that next week. Well some things happened. Prayers got answered and as I considered if God was real, I thought that if He was real, then I believed He would be healing people and restoring marriages as I had seen.

The next Sunday I went back to the same church with my girlfriend with me; and I received Jesus as my Lord and saviour! A new life had begun!  I was born again. Over the next little while I joined the youth street work team and began to share my faith with others. The training opened my eyes to understand the reality of heaven and hell. It was frightening to consider the horror of hell. I became more passionate about reaching lost people. My girlfriend (who is now my wife) and I served in children’s ministry then teens group, then after about three years I began working on staff as youth leader. For me there was a very deep sense of being saved from a Christless eternity, and a gratitude for being saved. I wanted to give my whole life to Christ and serve Him forever because of what He had done for me.

Has this love of God gripped your life? Are you apprehended by God for something greater? Are you called? Do you say like Paul, “My life is not my own.”

Matt 20:16  So those who [now] are last will be first [then], and those who [now] are first will be last [then]. [a]For many are called, but few chosen.(AMP)

John 15:16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [b]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.(AMP)

There is a call from God, and there is a response from you. How will you respond? In the parable of the marriage feast the servant goes out to ask who will attend the supper but many refuse to attend, finally the host says to the servant, go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be full. (Luke 14:16-24.)

Has the saviour called you? How have you responded? When God has touched your heart with His great love you are marked forever. This world cannot offer the peace and the joy that serving Him can give. All this world has is temporal and will one day pass away, but what is eternal will endure forever.

With His love on board you see the world differently. Ezek 9:4 And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it.(AMP)  How do you see your city?

When you’re called, you have a one track mind – God’s purpose, His kingdom comes first at all times. Nothing puts you off the glorious task of serving Jesus and winning lost people to Christ. I love the single mindedness of Paul in this story in Acts 21:10-14. 10 While we were remaining there for some time, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

11 And coming to [see] us, he took Paul’s belt and with it bound his own feet and hands and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit: The Jews at Jerusalem shall bind like this the man who owns this belt, and they shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles (heathen).

12 When we heard this, both we and the residents of that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 Then Paul replied, What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart like this? For I hold myself in readiness not only to be arrested and bound and imprisoned at Jerusalem, but also [even] to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.

14 And when he would not yield to [our] persuading, we stopped [urging and imploring him], saying, The Lord’s will be done! (AMP)

Paul knows what he’s called to. The prophet was right, and Paul would indeed be bound in Rome for the gospel, but did not interpret the prophecy to mean don’t go. He had a higher purpose. He intended to take the gospel to the heart of the empire! What are you called to?

Don’t choose Role or title, choose to serve – choose to go for souls. Choose to place yourself under a teacher or mentor or coach who will help you grow.  We Australians have a very independent mindset. It’s unhelpful and anti-biblical. It stems from our nations roots in growing out of a penal colony where there was a disrespect for all in authority. You will need to push that aside if you intend to be a disciple.

Consider the call of God for your life. To what are you called? Can you see the plight of the unsaved in your world and ask what can I do about it? Would you lay down your life for God and His great passion – to reach people with the gospel?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. How do you know if you are called

2. Can you be called and not be called to a ministry such as pastor teacher etc?

3. Is your life and the result of your years to be more than just family job and pleasure?

4. What do you believe you are called to do for God?

5. What is your next step in your mission?

 

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LOVE UNCONDITIONAL #4PMdepression

When everything goes wrong…..

They say bad news comes in threes, but for some people it seems to just keep on coming…

Everyone feels overwhelmed at times, so how do you handle that when it comes?

One good friend of mine arrived home to see his house going up in flames. His reaction? God is good!

Ps 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [yes, a rock that is too high for me].

Ps 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed and fainted [throwing all its weight] upon me, then You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a snare for me.

God knows exactly how you feel. Heb 4:13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenceless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

14 Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him].

15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

 

David calls out to God in the depth of his despair.

Ps 6:6 I am weary with my groaning; all night I soak my pillow with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping.

Ps 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.

O my God, my life is cast down upon me [and I find the burden more than I can bear]; therefore will I [earnestly] remember You from the land of the Jordan [River] and the [summits of Mount] Hermon, from the little mountain Mizar.

[Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me.

Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock, Why have You forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

 

Ps 116:1 I love the Lord, because He has heard [and now hears] my voice and my supplications.

Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.

The cords and sorrows of death were around me, and the terrors of Sheol (the place of the dead) had laid hold of me; I suffered anguish and grief (trouble and sorrow).

Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech You, save my life and deliver me!

Gracious is the Lord, and [rigidly] righteous; yes, our God is merciful.

 

Does it surprise you that a person who was such a great and accomplished leader went through such a time of deep depression?

My darkest moments

I wasn’t when my I was sick, it wasn’t when others in my family fell ill, it wasn’t when I lost money in a bad investment…. It was when I thought I had failed God.

Jesus knows and cares about your darkest days. He carried the weight and the pain of it all. The cross is the place where Jesus bore all the difficulties and troubles that weigh down your soul.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

When you are feeling overwhelmed then it’s time to turn to Jesus and receive His love. When you consciously acknowledge that He carried all that weight for you, then cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you. Meditate on what He has done for you at the cross. Meditate on how much He loves you and how He knows your situation and how you feel. Roll your burden onto Him and enter into His rest.  (Read and mediate on Hebrews 4)    If you believe you cant handle your feelings go to see your doctor for further advice. Try also this website – http://www.beyondblue.org.au/ 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Why are feelings so difficult to handle – they are only feelings?

2. Can a person who suffers with depression still achieve great things?

3. Would you say King David suffered with depression?

4. Did Jesus know these down feelings?

5. How can we receive the answer from God when we feel down?

 

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LOVE UNCONDITIONAL #3AMchesed_etymology

God’s insatiable desire to love you in spite of you can never be quenched.

If I could ask anything of God today it would be that He would reveal to you His mighty loving kindness.

Psalm 69:16

Hear and answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is sweet and comforting; according to Your plenteous tender mercy and steadfast love turn to me.

Today I want to reveal to you a secret in the word of God – the revelation of God’s Chesed – His loving kindness, and how it is His everlasting passion to do good to those who are in covenant with Him in spite of their faults and failings.

King David knew and understood God’s loving kindness and how it was there for him as part of God’s covenant promise to him.

Ps 18:50 – strong deliverance came to David through God’s loving kindness.  Vs50  He gives great [a]deliverance to His king, and shows loving kindness to His anointed,
To David and his [b]descendants forever.(NASB)

Ps 31:7 – When in great trouble and adversity, David rejoices in God’s loving kindness. Vs7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your loving kindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul (NASB)

Ps 51:1 – After great failure, deal with me according to your loving kindness. Vs 1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.(NKJV)

King David deeply understood the loving kindness of God. 127 times loving kindness is mentioned just in Psalms alone. The phrase “Your mercy and loving kindness endures forever is mentioned 43 times.

Chesed is a Hebrew word commonly translated as “loving-kindness,” “kindness” or “love.” Chesed is central to Jewish ethics and Jewish theology. Many Jewish thinkers view chesed as the primary virtue. Chesed is valued by religious Jews of all denominations. It is considered a virtue on its own, and also for its contribution to tikkun olam (repairing the world)

Loving-kindness” is used as an English translation of chesed, originating with the Coverdale Bible of 1535. Although some consider it to be a somewhat archaic translation,[1] it remains one of the most common translations.[2] “Love” is often used as a shorter English translation. Daniel Elazar has suggested the translation of “covenant-love.”[8] “Grace[9] and “compassion[10] are also occasionally used as translations of chesed. In Greek Eleos (often understood as mercy or pity) is the word used by the Septuagint to translate “chesed” into Greek. Chesed has also been understood as linked with the Greek word agape and its Latin   equivalent, caritas (charity).

Chesed is the core ethical virtue ascribed to God.

A statement by Rabbi Simlai in the Talmud claims that “The Torah (The first 5 books of the bible) begins with chesed and ends with chesed.” This may be understood to mean that “the entire Torah is characterized by chesed, i.e. it sets forth a vision of the ideal life whose goals are behaviour characterized by mercy and compassion.” Alternatively, it may allude to the idea that the giving of the Torah itself is the quintessential act of chesed.[12] The following are actions undertaken in imitation of the qualities of Chesed:[13]

  • love God so completely that one will never forsake His service for any reason
  • provide a child with all the necessities of his sustenance
  • leading a child into covenant relationship with God
  • visiting and healing the sick
  • giving charity to the poor
  • offering hospitality to strangers
  • attending to the dead
  • bringing a bride to the chuppah marriage ceremony
  • making peace between a man and his fellow

In the Torah loving kindness is epitomised by Exodus 34:6-7  And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth,

Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.(AMP)

 

When Miles Coverdale, translated the bible in 1535 it is one of the words he used in the Psalms to translate the Hebrew chesed into loving kindness when it refers to God’s love for his people Israel.

The theological importance of the word chesed is that it stands more than any other word for the attitude which both parties to a covenant ought to maintain towards each other. It combines the twin ideas of love and loyalty, both of which are essential. Yet it must convey the idea of the steadfastness and persistence of God’s sure love for his covenant-people. The etymological core of the word is ‘eagerness, keenness,’ God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. The continual waywardness of Israel has made it inevitable that, if God is never going to let Israel go, then his relation to his people must in the main be one of loving-kindness, mercy, and goodness, all of it entirely undeserved. For this reason the predominant use of the word comes to include mercy and forgiveness as a main constituent in God’s determined faithfulness to his part of the bargain. It is obvious, time and again, from the context that if God is to maintain the covenant he must exercise mercy to an unprecedented degree. The loving-kindness of God towards Israel is therefore wholly undeserved on Israel’s part. If Israel received the proper treatment for her stubborn refusal to walk in God’s way, there would be no prospect for her of anything but destruction, since God’s demand for right action never wavers one whit. Strict, however, as the demands for righteousness are, the prophets were sure that God’s yearnings for the people of his choice are stronger still. Here is the great dilemma of the prophets, and indeed the dilemma of us all to this day. But this much is clear: when we try to estimate the depth and the persistence of God’s loving-kindness and mercy, we must first remember his passion for righteousness. His passion for righteousness is so strong that he could not be more insistent in his demand for it, but God’s persistent love for his people is more insistent still. The story of God’s people throughout the centuries is that their waywardness has been so persistent that, if even a remnant is to be preserved, God has had to show mercy more than anything else. It is important to realize that though the Hebrew chesed can be translated by loving-kindness and mercy without doing violence to the context, yet we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that. The word stands for the wonder of his unfailing love for the people of his choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between his righteousness and his loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension. One may describe His loving kindness as aggressive kindness, goodness and mercy toward us.

Excerpts from – Bibliography: N.H. Snaith, Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, London (1944).

An example of God’s pursuit of Israel is in Hosea.

Psalm 57:10

For Your mercy and lovingkindness are great, reaching to the heavens, and Your truth and faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalm 59:16

But I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy and lovingkindness in the morning; for You have been to me a defense (a fortress and a high tower) and a refuge in the day of my distress.

Psalm 63:3

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

Psalm 66:20

Blessed be God, Who has not rejected my prayer nor removed His mercy and lovingkindness from being [as it always is] with me.

Psalm 69:13

But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord. At an acceptable and opportune time, O God, in the multitude of Your mercy and the abundance of Your lovingkindness hear me, and in the truth and faithfulness of Your salvation answer me.

Psalm 85:10

Mercy and lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 86:5

For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and lovingkindness to all those who call upon You.

Psalm 86:15

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and lovingkindness and truth.

Psalm 89:2

For I have said, Mercy and lovingkindness shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness will You establish in the very heavens [unchangeable and perpetual].

Psalm 103:4

Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercy;

Psalm 103:11

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and lovingkindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

Psalm 106:7

Our fathers in Egypt understood not nor appreciated Your miracles; they did not [earnestly] remember the multitude of Your mercies nor imprint Your lovingkindness [on their hearts], but they were rebellious and provoked the Lord at the sea, even at the Red Sea.

Psalm 106:45

And He [earnestly] remembered for their sake His covenant and relented their sentence of evil [comforting and easing Himself] according to the abundance of His mercy and lovingkindness[when they cried out to Him].

Psalm 107:8

Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and lovingkindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!

God’s loving kindness is everlasting. He is persistent in desiring your ultimate good. He longs for righteousness but as soon as we turn to Him, He abundantly pardons and then goes into overdrive with mercy, protection, provision, deliverance, peace and life. As you read the Psalms from now on; every time you read loving kindness, stop for a moment and recognise God’s intense desire to love you and show you mercy and kindness.

Never again feel lost, abandoned, alone or without hope. Remember God’s loving kindness. Remember His intense desire to bless you with kindness. As you turn your heart to Him he will abundantly provide for you.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1.  Describe in your own words what you think the Hebrew word Chesed means.

2. So often Christians think that God has abandoned them, or doesn’t care about them because trouble has come their way. Why would that be?

3. But nothing could be further from the truth. God longs to show kindness to those He is in covenant with. List all the ways God shows kindness to us.

4. What qualifies us to receive this kindness?

5. Compare Ephesians 2:4 (AMP)  with this idea of Chesed or covenant love and it’s persistence.

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LOVE UNCONDITIONAL  #2AMLove Unconditional

WHEN YOU TRULY KNOW GOD LOVES YOU TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY, YOU ENTER INTO A LIFE OF STRENGTH AND VICTORY WHERE YOU EXPERIENCE HIS GRACE AND PROVISION AND ABUNDANT LIFE.

Humanity is broken.

We live in the lucky country, but many struggle with low self-esteem, depression, loneliness, rejection, sickness, financial trouble and substance abuse.

Jesus is the answer, He is the hope of every person who puts their trust in Him. Yet we often see God as far away, aloof, non-caring, too busy running His vast universe to ever notice me let alone care for me. Yes, they have heard that Jesus loves them, but does that cliché answer their current pain? Often as I talk to people who have not met Jesus yet they see God as a judge who will punish them for their wrongs. They see God as the rule maker and the fun taker. While 70% of Australians believe there is a God, most have never experienced His powerful healing and rescuing love.

How do you see God? Deep down in your heart where your inner thoughts reside, how do you think God sees you? I once saw God as if He were a person busy at His desk and with piles of papers on the desk and He seemed oblivious to my presence. Or does He seem like a loving Father with arms outstretched waiting for you to jump right up onto His lap?

Mental illness is very common. One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder. These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime [1].

Suicide in Australia

Every day, at least six Australians die from suicide and a further thirty people will attempt to take their own life [5]. While suicide accounts for only a relatively small proportion (1.6%) of all deaths in Australia, it does account for a greater proportion of deaths from all causes within specific age groups. For example, suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24 [6]. Australians are more likely to die by suicide than skin cancer.

Men are at greatest risk of suicide but least likely to seek help. Attempted suicide is also an important issue with estimates that in Australia over 60,000 people a year attempt to take their own lives, the majority being women.

Depression

Depression has a high lifetime prevalence – one in seven Australians will experience depression in their lifetime [1]. Depression has the third highest burden of all diseases in Australia (13.3%) [3] and also third globally [8]. Burden of disease refers to the total impact of a disease measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity and other indicators. The World Health Organisation estimates that depression will be the number one health concern in both the developed and developing nations by 2030 [8].

Rates of depression are slightly higher in women with depression, affecting one in six (17%) compared to one in 10 (10%) men experiencing depression in their lifetime. http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Factsandfiguresaboutmentalhealthandmooddisorders.pdf

God loves everyone equally. His love is complete. He is a loving heavenly Father. However you must receive it to experience it.

WHEN YOU TRULY KNOW GOD LOVES YOU TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY, YOU ENTER INTO A LIFE OF STRENGTH AND VICTORY WHERE YOU EXPERIENCE HIS GRACE AND PROVISION AND ABUNDANT LIFE.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (ESV)

1 John 4:9-11 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (NLT)

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect ([a]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]. (AMP)

 

If He put His Spirit inside us what does that say?

I stood at the altar 35 years ago and said to Chris, I choose to live with you until one of us dies. It’s a big deal to live with someone. You probably couldn’t live with just anyone! However God says, I want to make my home within you!

John 14:23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (NLT) AGAPE love. The love that gives expecting nothing in return. This love not conditional from God’s point of view, but it is from ours.

1 Cor 6:19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, (NCV)

See God as the perfect parent.

Matt 7:11 If you then, evil 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 good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!(AMP)

God’s first priority is for us to receive His love. If someone truly knows that they are loved by God then insecurity, fear, unbelief is smashed. God is on your side, He has made provision for your every need through the cross.

As you receive His love you will be set free from insecurity, low self image, fear, low expectation etc by receiving a revelation that God’s love so big and so complete!   John 10:10 I have come that they will have life and life abundant. Deut 28:13 I will make you the head and not the tail. Above and not beneath. Ps 17:8 You are the apple of His eye. Rom 8:31 If God be for you who can be against you?

How then can one experience such love and acceptance and favour?

  • Meditate on these scriptures. (Also read 1 John 3 & 4)
  • Imagine the cross and see His love poured out for you as He died for you.
  • Watch the face of the heavenly Father as He turns away from Jesus when He became Sin for us. Jesus complete rejection and judgment that was meant for us.
  • Thank Him for this love.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Have you ever prayed for a revelation of God’s love? – Why not do it right now?

2. Love means doing the highest good for another. Describe what God did for us through Jesus Christ.

3. There are 5 love languages; Touch, words, gifts, acts of service and time. What’s your love language?

4. Do you feel loved if the love expressed to you is not in your love language?

5. Can you acknowledge God’s love for you even if you may not be feeling loved?

 

 

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LOVE UNCONDITIONAL #1AMUnconditional-Love

FEELING LOVED?

How big is God’s love for you? So high, so wide, so great, so deep is God’s love for you. Ephes 2:4-6 But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,

Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favour and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us [b]joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

So often we judge God’s love by our own human viewpoint. We feel that God doesn’t love us when we suffer loss or go through tough times. When we take this view that God doesn’t care or doesn’t love us then we lose faith, we cannot believe that God will answer our prayer. We feel lost, alone, separated from hope and we doubt ourselves, sometimes we even go to the place of self-hatred thinking that if God doesn’t care for me, then I must be worthless. Why do you need this message about God’s love for you? Let me tell you it is the biggest key for a full and overcoming life as a Christian.

We need a revelation of God’s unending, unyielding, unconditional, unqualified, unlimited, unbeatable LOVE for you and me. When we get this revelation, we smash unbelief and doubt. We soar in confidence that God works all things together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  We say goodbye to a low self-esteem and walk around knowing He watches over us. His eye is on the sparrow, so much more is His every thought about you and for your good.

Key verse for the month – Isaiah 49:15-16 Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands.(AMP)

Ps 103:14 For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust. He gets how hard it is for us in this sin soaked and selfish world, He was in all points tempted like as we are, so He is an high priest who can be touched by the feelings of our weaknesses.(Heb 4:15)

HE CARES – always and at all times. Receive it! Meditate on it!

But, you say, why did I suffer? Why did I go through so much trouble?

Romans 8:31-37

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[o]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.(NLT)

STORY

The death of Stephen

54 Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen].

55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory (the splendor and majesty) of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand;

56 And he said, Look! I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand!

57 But they raised a great shout and put their hands over their ears and rushed together upon him.

58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!

60 And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]! And when he had said this, he fell asleep [g][in death].

This story contrasts the cruelty of religion with the love of God. Who would choose to be Stephen? Perhaps the first Christian Martyr. Was there a wife left grieving? Or children left without a father? We will never know, but what we now and what God wants us to see about this tragic event is what Stephen experienced at this time.

Those who stoned Stephen basically committed murder because they did not like what he believed! Religion is cruel and hate filled. Religion says, “You must do this and this to be accepted” Religion says, “You have no right to challenge the status quo.”  But in the midst of this hatred and violence the love of God shone through.  Stephen experienced all the following:

  1. An opportunity to share the gospel with a large number of people
  2. An overwhelming sense of God’s presence and protection –  55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory (the splendour and majesty) of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand; 56 And he said, Look! I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand!
  3. The act of forgiveness for his assailants
  4. The initiation of Saul’s conversion.

Do you think Stephen felt abandoned by God? No, in no way. When he reached heaven and began his experience of eternity he could see the eternal significance of what took place that day. Saul’s later conversion, millions experiencing the power of the word of God through Paul’s writings. The church scattered by the mounting persecution so that it invaded all the known world. Spreading out far and wide.

When you think back over your life do you look at the tough times and ask God where were you? Perhaps we will never know the whole picture in this life about why things happen, but we know this, All things work tether for Good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose.

How can I convince you about His unending love for you? Do you want life on your terms or God’s terms? Can you say you are smarter than God and know what is best for you and for His plans and purposes? Humility allows us to fully trust God knowing His ways are perfect and all His ways are just. His love for you is unending and fully complete. He that spared not his only son, will he not with Him freely give us all things?

What Now you say?

How can I receive a revelation of this amazing love?

  • Meditate on these scriptures. (Also read 1 John 3 & 4)
  • Imagine the cross and see His love poured out for you as He died for you.
  • Watch the face of the heavenly Father as He turns away from Jesus when He became Sin for us. Jesus complete rejection and judgment that was meant for us.
  • Thank Him for this love.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Is it necessary to feel God’s love?

2. Can you feel your mother’s love right now? What about if you think about all that she has done for you? Is it getting a bit easier now?

3. If God wants the best for you, how can you cooperate with that?

4. What was the main point in this message concerning the story of Stephen’s death?

5. Can you trust God when things seem to be going the wrong way for your perspective?

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