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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

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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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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Presentation1

FAITH ACTIVATION #3 AM

Welcome to your commissioning briefing.  I have called you all in here this morning for a very important reason. You have been selected for activation by the highest authority to fulfil the mission that you have been trained for since you were reprogrammed. At this initiation point you will be given the activation trigger code to unlock the infiltration skills to enable you to do maximum danger the enemy’s assets both here in Australia and overseas.  You are now in full activation phase. Your life is not your own, you are now active agents on assignment with no turning back. Your mission is chosen, your training is complete and I will now read the activation code.

Matthew 28:19-20 (AMP)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”

WATCH THIS VIDEO

Every committed Christian is an embedded agent. Living as part of the culture in which they will be released to bring kingdom outcomes for God’s purpose. Some Christian’s wrongly believe they are sleeper agents just waiting, sometimes for many years, before being activated for their ultimate purpose. There are no sleeper agents in God’s kingdom; only the trained and equipped agents who are embedded into every corner of the society to release the power of God’s love and His message to the nation.

For three years the disciples lived with Jesus, walked where he walked and learned the skills of ministry. It wasn’t hard, but it required faith because they were called upon to do impossible things; to change people’s lives and to engage a supernatural enemy. It wasn’t very long before their first assignment.

The Twelve Sent Out  – Mark 6:7-13 AMP

7 And He called the twelve [disciples] and began to send them out [as His special messengers] two by two, and gave them authority and power over the unclean spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for the journey except a mere walking stick—no bread, no [traveler’s] bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals; and [He told them] not to wear [d]two tunics. 10 And He told them, “Wherever you go into a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 Any place that does not welcome you or listen to you, when you leave there, [e]shake the dust off the soles of your feet as a testimony against them [breaking all ties with them because they rejected My message].” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent [that is, think differently, recognize sin, turn away from it, and live changed lives]. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many who were sick, and healing them.

The Seventy Sent Out – Luke 10:1-12 AMP

10 Now after this the Lord appointed [a]seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. 2 He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. 3 Go your way; listen carefully: I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not carry a money belt, a provision bag, or [extra] sandals; and do not [b]greet anyone along the way [who would delay you]. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘[c]Peace [that is, a blessing of well-being and prosperity, the favor of God] to this house.’ 6 And if anyone of peace is there [someone who is sweet-spirited and hospitable], your [blessing of] peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not move from house to house. 8 Whenever you go into a city and they welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick [authenticating your message], and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you [breaking all ties]; yet understand this, that the kingdom of God has come near [and you rejected it].’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable in that day [of judgment] for Sodom than for that city.

Your assignment is to bring visitors to this December’s Sunday meetings. You have eight opportunities in December to invite and bring along people you know and people you don’t know to listen to the most powerful love story ever told.  Four Sundays plus Christmas day service (No night meeting on 27th December)

You have three weapons, Specific invites, General invites and witnessing tracts.

You have the power of the Holy Spirit. Now all you need is the boldness and excitement to begin your assignment. The old spy movies used to say at this point, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it is…” But we cannot say that because you accepted the mission a long time ago when you gave your life to Christ.

Let’s see what happened when the disciples went out on their first mission.

The Joyous Results – Luke 10:17-22 AMP

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like [a flash of] lightning. 19 Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on [d]serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

21 In that very hour He was overjoyed and rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and He said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things [relating to salvation] from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants [the childlike and untaught]. Yes, Father, for this way was [Your gracious will and choice, and was] well-pleasing in Your sight. 22 All things have been transferred and turned over to Me by My Father and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.”

Imagine Jesus being overjoyed as you fulfil your mission?

Here are your key ignition point tools, the phrases you can use to bring people to church for Christmas.

  1. “Will you come over to my place for Christmas”
  2. Can I pray for you? (At the time when they speak about a difficulty they have)
  3. You like love stories?
  4. Have you ever been to a church where very new person received a gift?

The time for your release has come. You are full of the Holy Spirit. Believe for God to move when you pray for people. Ask for miracles, and expect great things.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What do you believe your assignment is?
  2. Do you know about the power you have from the Holy Spirit?
  3. Everyone feels afraid when they begin, so how will you overcome that?
  4. Have you got the materials for making an invitation? (Church invites, tracts etc)
  5. Will you come back next meeting and share what happened when you invited people to the Christmas services?

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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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Heroes of Faith Full

HEROES OF THE FAITH #2AM – OVERCOMING THE ODDS

 

 

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

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

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

Listen to this story of heartbreak in the bible:

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

Psalm 47:8 AMP

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

God is the creator and mover of nations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how should we respond?

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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Nation Changing Faith

Here’s a story about Nation Changing Faith.

1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT

32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Here we see David had a passion for Israel so he reflected on the past, attended to the present and prospected the future. God changed the nation through him.  We will come back to this later.

Two weeks ago I shared about Australia For Christ. I spoke of how I got saved and grew up hearing a great vision and seeing where I could fit into that master plan that God has for Australia. As a church planting movement we have a faith in God that believes for a national revival. A nation changing impact of the gospel. The motivation I received to engage with this great vision was understanding the truth about heaven and hell. I read and studied verses like Mark 16:16  Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. (NLT)  I could see the disastrous future awaiting the people who refused to believe the gospel. Hell really is terrible place. If I love people, I must feel a passion to do everything in my power to warn them and show them the truth about Jesus.

Church, listen carefully, heaven is real, hell is real. God’s kindness is that He sent Jesus to die in our place. People don’t go to heaven because they are nice people! Only born again people go to heaven. It’s only people who have repented of their sin and chosen to follow Christ who will avoid an eternity in hell. Some Australians may think this message an unpopular or outdated one but the gospel hasn’t changed from the days of Jesus till now. Is there a growing passion inside you for reaching lost people?

Two weeks ago I spoke about Daniel and his experience in the lion’s den and how that impacted on the entire nation of Medes and Persians. I asked you to respond by saying will you believe? If you believe, will you pray? If you believe, will you serve the Lord? If the vision of Australia for Christ has touched your heart, then respond by doing these things:

  1. Live wholeheartedly for God
  2. Be in church every week and participate in UC groups.
  3. Give generously to the vision.
  4. Share your faith with everyone around you.
  5. Consider the call of God on your life to serve in ministry. Some are called to plant churches, some to assist pastors as support ministries.
  6. Be trained for the ministry in HUB, church training, and Bible College.

Can you see the possibilities of a church that grows and impacts its local area? Can you see the planting of many more churches making an impact on the city of Melbourne and the state of Victoria? Can you see how our vision must include training of leaders, ministries and church planters? What is our vision here at Plenty Valley Church? Let me read this statement to you; and put your imagination to work as I read it.

PLENTY VALLEY CHURCH VISION – CLEAR PICTURE OF A PREFERRED FUTURE

We see the church of 500 members and it is buzzing with life and excitement and expectation. People love God and love each other and they have a tremendous confidence in God to answer their prayers. We have lots of God stories every week of changed lives.

We are very integrated into the community and individual members pray for their family, friends, neighbours and workmates and see God answer by miracles, healing and salvation. Each Urban Connect group has deep community where real needs are met and new people come in and find belonging, care and significance.

Every weekend church meetings are inspiring with powerful worship, life application preaching, and great response. People are saved, healed and set free. A majority of our church are part of an Urban Connect Group.

The church has different avenues giving help into the community where people from the church interact with people in the community who have specific needs. God inspires us to love and serve people and through the gifts and talents he’s given us, we find ways of serving people in the community.

As new people come into the church they find their place of belonging; they are inspired to serve Jesus, and they love to be trained so that they can become more effective for God. Some of the people who are trained will grow into leaders that will become church planters. We see a Bible College with internships and other kinds of study that prepares people for leadership roles in the kingdom.

As we grow we see our church requiring a new place in which to do ministry and have community impact. We see a facility that is centrally located in the Whittlesea region to which people can come from the community and have their needs met and experience a community of love and acceptance which will point many of them to a commitment to Jesus Christ.

We are passionate people; passionate to serve Jesus Christ; passionate to love each other; passionate to make a significant impact into our own local community; and also we are passionate about raising up leaders who can multiply this kind of effectiveness across the city of Melbourne, the state of Victoria and into other places in Australia. Our vision is five. 500 members 5 people saved each week and $5000 in our giving each week.

To make a solid impact in our community and reach our vision to plant churches we need a better facility. This building is adequate for the present needs but we are leasing this building and to create a permanent and effective impact in Whittlesea we need our own place and one which contains more space for community programs and for training. It seems like a long journey to arrive at that facility. We are talking millions of dollars. Ten years ago we looked at land on the hill behind this location. The deal was multi-million dollars and it didn’t go ahead because it was much too high a risk. Even as little as two months ago we were offered a deal to buy land and a building exactly same size as this one on that hill but the asking price was overpriced for what it was. Still ringing in my spiritual ears is the word God spoke to me seven years ago when He said “You speak to Me about the land.”

When it looks impossible, that’s when God feels most comfortable and we feel most uncomfortable. This is what we believe: Mark 9:23 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” If we all agree and believe for great things, God will provide for us. What is your internal motivation? It’s a deep desire to make a difference, to make a significant contribution with your life. Listen to what Paul says about this.

Phil 3:13-15 AMP

13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.

What am I doing to press toward the goal?

It’s finding your place in the vision that is most important. Where do you fit? What is your role? My role obviously is to lead this church and also the churches of INC in the State in this vision. That’s my role as a leader. But also I want to live an example of how this nation changing faith is outworking in my life. So I serve as a Police Chaplain. This week I have been attending a three day Police Chaplains Conference at the Police academy where I was awarded a Police service medal for 10 years’ service to VICPOL as a volunteer Police Chaplain. I have also started a Business Action Group in the community that seeks to unite business people who have a passion for community development to gather together and inspire each other to make a difference in Whittlesea. I do that so that I can meet and engage with business people and share my faith with them so that I can win them to Christ.

What is your part? Here’s how to find it. Like David in the bible passage we read earlier, you need to reflect on your past, attend to the present and prospect the future. David saw the overwhelming problem of Goliath. He was a giant. He was intimidating Israel. Everyone was fearful and defeated. David saw something different, he saw opportunity. Our giant is overcoming resistance to the gospel. Seeing people become hungry to know God and have their lives changed. David considered his situation and he:

  1. Reflected on his past – he killed a lion and a bear
  2. He attended to his present – he chose 5 stones and rejected Saul’s armour
  3. He prospected his future – what shall happen to the man who kills this giant? – I will feed this Philistine to the birds of the air and we will defeat our enemies.

When you reflect on your past, think of how you got saved and who led you to Christ. Think about how moved you were and how God touched your heart. Think of all the dreams and words you have received about serving Jesus. God can stir you and reignite these flames of passion and commitment. When you attend to the present, see the people all around you that are in need. See the broken families, the people messed up with ICE the drug epidemic and tragedy of family violence. See the people in your sphere of influence who are needing God’s love. When you prospect the future, you’re dreaming of what will be as God answers your prayers. Lives changed, people saved and healed and the church growing and impacting or community.  Dream of becoming a leader, perhaps an Urban Connect Leader, a Youth leader, a Kid Town leader, a business leader, etc.  As God moves through us we get a sense that we are a part of something very special. God have your way in this city and nation. We choose to have Nation Changing faith.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Can you reflect on your past and find significant memories of how God impacted your life to lead to your salvation?
  2. What are the needs in the community that you see all around you right now as you attend to the present?
  3. What can you see/visualise what our church looks like in the future?
  4. What part do you think you can play in the vision God has for us?
  5. Do you see your self in a leadership role of any kind?

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