Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘jesus’

jesus on crossDEEPER THINGS – THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

Sunday 20th March 2016 AM service.

Leading up to Easter the message of the cross is vital to every person both Christian and non-Christian alike. What is the cross all about? What is the message or the preaching of the cross telling me?

1 Corinthians 1:18 (AMP)

For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.

All over the world in almost every place the symbol of the cross is universal in its recognition as the symbol of Christianity. Many people have a cross around their necks, others tattooed on their bodies, and still others have a form of it on their walls or carved into woodwork.

The cross is an instrument of death. It is a cruel and grotesque example of torturous, grizzly and bloody scene of death that the Romans used extensively, but was invented by the Persians around 500 BC. The torturous death by crucifixion was such a despised form of cruelty that usually only slaves were crucified and not Roman citizens unless they had committed serious crimes against the state such as high treason.

The scene of the crucifixion of Jesus was a problem for the early church because it showed a picture of the central figure of the faith being the subject of the most humiliating and degrading death. Cicero for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”  How could someone honour and revere Jesus after such a humiliating death? How can a Jew or Gentile, who both have cultural reasons for rejecting Jesus, accept that He is one to be followed, worshipped and adored after that kind of grizzly end?

We see Paul’s response to this objection shows in the verse above as he declares that the preaching of the cross has a double meaning. For those who are perishing through lack of revelation, it is foolishness, but to those who have been enlightened through revelation of the necessity of the cross, it is a message of life. He found it such a compelling subject that he wrote, “for I made the decision to know nothing [that is, to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while] among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified [and the meaning of His redemptive, substitutionary death and His resurrection]. I Cor 2:2 AMP

Even today the scene of the cross, so bloody and so cruel forces people to see Jesus as the victim of mindless cruelty; perhaps a case of a righteous man struggling against oppression. The Jesus that most people want to follow is the one that was kind to others, spoke of love and accepted the unacceptable. Yet the modern world equally has a difficulty with accepting the death of one so right and so good. Why was this necessary? Is it just another case of shooting the messenger? While the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, little is understood of its true meaning as part of God’s plan in rescuing mankind and setting them free from the crushing effects of sin on the individual and on the society.

What is the cross to you?  Is it any more than the way Jesus died?

God our heavenly father planned for the crucifixion of Jesus long ago. The Old Testament reference in Deut 21:22 AMP refers to anyone that is hung upon a tree is cursed, is picked up by Paul in Galatians when he recalls that “Christ purchased our freedom and redeemed us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs [crucified] on a tree (cross)Gal 3:13 AMP

From the beginning Jesus death was the plan of God. There had to be the shedding of blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This is so because God says the life is in the blood, be it animal or man. Jesus could not have been strangled, or met with any death other than by the loss of blood.

Jesus death was a substitutionary death because He was the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world.  This title of Jesus was clear to any Jew and now to any student of the bible that the lamb was a substitute in the exodus story. Either the lamb died and its blood was placed over the door of the home or the angel of death came and killed the first born. Then right through the Old Testament a lamb was an animal of sacrifice whose blood was shed to atone for the sins of the bearer of the lamb.

And so Jesus died and shed His blood, but not just any death, He died in a way that’s described as the worst of the worst. Is was so bad that good roman citizens wouldn’t discuss it because it was so barbaric. It was for the torture and annihilation of slaves and only the very worst of criminals.  It was a humiliating death because the subject is stripped naked and the death is long and extremely painful. Jesus was humiliated – He was brought low as Isaiah says “despised and rejected by men.” And took upon Himself the form of a servant. Jesus who was the king, the creator of the universe was humbled so totally and so completely at the cross because there was no limits to His love, His gift His giving of Himself. This level of suffering and humiliation corresponds to the depth of depravity of mankind in rebellion against God.(Galli 2016) It shows just how bad things really are with us. Can we behold the cross and not say, “He did it for me”?

The cross is confronting. Can anyone of us dare say there’s nothing wrong with mankind? Can we dare say there’s only love and kindness in the world? Are we so proud and blinded to reality that we say like some prideful individuals, “There’s plenty of evil men in the world, but I am not one of them!”  Could any one of us open all our lives and our inner thoughts to the whole world for scrutiny and not be ashamed of some part of it? The bible is brief but kind when it says, “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.”

When we behold the cross and see it for what it truly is. The sentence of death that we all deserve and by His great love, it is the death of Jesus as my substitute that means I can go free; fully pardoned because my sins have been punished and paid for in Jesus. If I believe in Jesus Christ and humble my heart in repentance, I can receive forgiveness and be saved from my sins.

When we see the cross, it moves us, and we long to sing as Isaac Watts wrote in 1707:

   When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

   Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

   See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

   Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

But the cross is so much more than atonement and forgiveness of sin as wonderful as that is. The cross is the power over sin. It is the victory God gave us to conquer sin. Not just a constant washing away of sins, but the doing away with the body of sin, the destruction of the inner nature of sin leaving us with a totally new nature. Becoming a new creation.

Let’s look carefully at Romans 6:6-13 AMP

6 We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. 7 For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.

 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, 9 because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin [ending its power and paying the sinner’s debt] once and for all; and the life that He lives, He lives to [glorify] God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. 11 Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts and passions.

What does the cross mean to you? It means the forgiveness of sin and pardon from the just penalty due to me. It is also the instrument of the death of my old life, by which I leave behind my sinful ways and desires and so begin a new life. The cross gives me power over sin and it is the doorway to a new kind of life now living as a new creation becoming more like Jesus every day.

We pray that God gives us a revelation of the cross and all that it means. We pray that we understand our total lostness without Christ. We pray that we understand how broken and how far from God each and every person is without Christ. We pray that we all come to understand that the gift of love God gave us in sending His own Son to the cross is mind-blowing and so significant and shows us His amazing love. We pray that we all fully enter into that revelation that the old life we had before we met Jesus was rubbish and God crucified it in Jesus on the same cross so that we might die to sin and not live any longer in it.

In this week leading up to Easter, Read Romans 6, pray on it and ask for revelation; and tell others how great and how vast is the love God has for them and how they can have a new life in Jesus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why do you think the preaching of the cross is foolishness to people who are not believers?
  2. what are two important points you got from this message?
  3. Is you old life dead now or does it still try and rise from the dead to control you?
  4. How do we “reckon ourselves dead” as Romans 6:11 says?
  5. How would you pray about the cross when applying this truth of overcoming sin through the cross?

GALLI, M 2016, ‘WHY THE CROSS’, Christianity Today, 60, 2, pp. 34-39, Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 March 2016.

Read Full Post »

Pastors, leaders, church members do you want to grow as a leader?BE FUN THEY SAID

Why be a leader? – Together Everyone Achieves More. – Love.

It’s challenging to be a leader. Being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs around.

 

1 Sam 30:1-6 AMP

Now it happened when David and his men came [home] to Ziklag on the third day, [they found] that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev (the South country) and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2 and they had taken captive the women [and all] who were there, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off [to be used as slaves] and went on their way. 3 When David and his men came to the town, it was burned, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until [a]they were too exhausted to weep [any longer]. 5 Now David’s two wives had been captured, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Further, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all of them were embittered, each man for his sons and daughters. But David felt strengthened and encouraged in the Lord his God.

What do we learn from this story?

  1. David is doing God’s will when calamity strikes.
  2. David is under the most intense pressure of his life. Stress
  3. In the leadership stretch it doesn’t seem fair.
  4. Although David’s men practically worshipped him, in this situation they turned against him.
  5. David suffered personal loss as well as a leadership crisis.
  6. This was David’s final test before Kingship
  7. God organised this situation.
  8. The stretch didn’t finish when David became King.

You are a LEADER!

If you want to be a better leader then what are you doing to grow your leadership skills and capacity?

Testimony

Eighteen months ago due to a financial crunch I had to ask my assistant pastor to leave staff and go back to the secular workforce. That obviously meant and increase in responsibilities falling on my plate. Then last year I made the decision to begin a masters degree in Ministry and Leadership. Things got busier. In October last year I had a big input into a church in Hobart after the pastors resigned and now this year in January I found myself taking on another church in Melbourne to lead as well as this one. It’s been a stretching time!

Leadership isn’t only for the few charismatic individuals who seem gifted to lead. Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to everyone.

In the study that I have done in the last 12 months one of the biggest discoveries I have made in much reading and research is that leadership can be learned. There are skills and abilities you can learn to boost your leadership capabilities so that you can achieve more through others and see better results.

The question is: what will you do to learn more about leadership?

Leadership is relationship

How you handle people will determine your leadership level.

When it comes to decision making, you have resources, Pastors, you have the state chairman, the National Executive and your area chairman. People who will have fresh perspective and maybe direct experience of your situation. Leaders you have your pastors.

When you are working with people – it’s your people skills that you must apply to win the day and make some progress.

Three great values of a good leader: Here are the top three leadership skills you can learn.

Credibility, Confidence and Enthusiasm.

In research done with 100,000 people* on what they want from their leaders over many continents and across many decades the top four qualities that people say they would look for in a leader which would help them want to follow that person are on the screen, these are the Characteristics of admired leaders…..

These qualities do not vary across cultures, ethnicities, types of organisations, genders, levels of education or age groups.

Top four – Honesty, Forward looking, Competent, Inspiring.

These top four have remained constant over time and place.

These are the top four qualities people most want from their leaders.

In further study asking what qualities makes a person believable whether they are news reporters, sales people, doctors, pastors, business managers, politicians, or civic leaders, the measure to evaluate this is…

trustworthiness, expertise and dynamism.

People who rated more highly on these were considered more credible than others.

Notice the similarities in these three to the first four…

Honesty, forward looking, competent, inspiring.

Trustworthy, Expertise and dynamism.

Credibility

  • Credibility is the foundation of leadership, if people are going to follow you, whether you are a small group leader, men’s ministry leader, children’s ministry leader, or pastor – they will ask the question can I believe this leader?
  • Can I trust their word?, Do they have the knowledge and skills to lead? And are they passionate?
  • your behaviour earns respect DWYSYWD -Do what you say you will do!
  • Your actions are more important than your words
  • stay focused on the reality that what you say is important
  • You’re authentic when you lead according to the principles that matter most to you

Confidence

People follow confidence, Self confidence is very attractive. If you can’t believe in yourself then how will others believe in you? Self confidence is rooted in your inner core belief system. It’s how you perceive yourself to be.

The choice that you must make is: will you focus on your faults and failures or will you focus on the strengths gifts and abilities that you do have.

Where do you get confidence from?

Example of David at a young age coming against Goliath.

Where did he get his confidence from?

  1. From God – there was a strong sense of God with him and spirit led confidence
  2. He had some early wins – lions bears etc.
  3. He had time to dream. 1 Sam 17: 14-16 AMP David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem. 16 The Philistine [Goliath] came out morning and evening, and took his stand for forty days.

Later in life David had some failures. Failures can rob you of confidence. Or failures can propel you to learn and regroup – fail forward. You have to work on yourself.

Confidence is about focus.

Enthusiasm

  • Enthusiasm is a choice.
  • You don’t need skill to be enthusiastic. You need to make a decision and keep focus.
  • Enthusiasm isn’t only for loud people – for a phlegmatic or melancholy person enthusiasm is always being cup half full. It’s always seeing the possibilities, its believing that there is an answer, a way through.
  • Enthusiasm starts with a smile.
  • Enthusiasm is deciding you’re going to enjoy the journey.

*  The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

Read Full Post »

PREACHING 3-1-16 AMkid and plane no inc

God has plans for your life. Being a Christian is inherently about doing life with God who of course is much bigger and smarter than you or me. He has always demonstrated that He is a God of purpose and plan. Life with God is not some random series of events unrelated to any deeper direction or purpose. Life is a constant discovery of growth and maturity as we will discover in today’s message.

Jer 29:10-14 ESV

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

God had plans for Israel, and God has plans for your life. The New Testament reveals God’s plan hidden from the ages was revealed in and through Jesus Christ and we get to play a part in that enormous and overarching plan that culminates in the second coming of Jesus when all things are gathered together in Him for eternity.

Ephes 1:3-10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[b] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insightmaking known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

It’s a calling, you’re not an “also ran”. Every day you get up out of bed as a Christian you are on mission. You are under the control and instruction of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord means “Master Controller”. It’s not only a journey of subjugation but Jesus describes it as a yoke, where He is the main power in the relationship. He describes it as being joint heirs with Him and also as being in partnership. He calls us His friends and that’s a lot more than a slave relationship, it’s Sonship! Yet there is this overriding sense of destiny and purpose in all that we do with Him. Our life is not our own, we are bought with a price and we willingly receive His direction and listen for His instruction about what to do next and how to live. Some may think that this is a moment by moment waiting for instruction where we never know quite what to do from one minute till the next; but we know what to do, and how to live so the instructions are usually serendipitous in the sense that each day God has some detours or diversions for us to pay attention to in the midst of the normal pathway that is well known and thought through, because God has given us His leading in times past. Yet here is still this moment by moment relationship with Him. There is this “pray without ceasing” lifestyle that marks the Spirit led life where we find the relationship with the Holy Spirit to be fresh, real and connected as we walk with our best friend.

Some people don’t believe in destiny. One day a famous Australian Peter Daniels published a book about reaching your life goals; and in it he tells how he researched the lives of thousands of people who achieved greatness and read their biographies. He shows how the one overriding attribute they had in common was a sense of destiny. He recounts the life of Winston Churchill who being elected as Prime Minister of Great Britain early in World War II who declares to his wife Clementine, “I believe I was born for this hour”.

What were you born for? The tag line of our INC church movement is “Born for more” because we believe every person is born for more than what they experience right now and the way to achieve that is to walk hand in hand with Jesus Christ. For me, before I met Jesus as my Lord and saviour, I was a person without any direction. My high school and early days at university were random times of experience with no plan and no direction. I wasn’t even sure about why I chose to study engineering as I did. When I was born again, the very first thing I discovered was a sense being in God’s hands now and that meant purpose! The realm of the eternal was opened up and now I could see what God’s plan for the world and for me was. I was no longer a random being and directionless. I was now birthed into a divine plan and process of bringing the gospel to the world and filing heaven in preparation for His soon coming.

God took me on a journey of learning as I experienced kid’s ministry, teenager’s ministry, youth ministry then pastoring a geographical section of the church. We went through good times and bad. There were hardships, but through every experience, it is a journey with Jesus where you learn about Him and about how His kingdom works. Through these many experiences I discovered three important things.

  1. What is important in life.
  2. Who’s in control in my life.
  3. The journey is about preparation.

God is preparing you for eternity. You’re going to live with Him forever and there are things He has prepared for you in eternity. So there is much to learn down here on the way through. This is your testing ground, your Spirit University. So everything you experience here in this life can be preparatory if you let God guide you through the process. If we complain about the journey we can’t enjoy the journey and we won’t get the most out of it and become prepared. One of God’s pictures of doing life with us is the potter and the clay. (Jer 18:1-17)   This year is for you. It’s a year to discover the plan and purpose for God in your life.

It’s time to consider leadership. I want to encourage everyone to consider acting like a leader. Everyone one of us is leading someone and we can learn how to lead more effectively as we grow through this journey with God. In the early part of this year we are offering leadership training on six Monday nights from February 8th until March 21st. This opportunity is for anyone who has a passion to be more available to God and better equipped to serve Him this year. Also our HUB leadership training is quarterly now and the first HUB night will be on Wednesday February 3rd and everyone is welcome to attend this Leader’s Engagement night.

To assist in preparing you for Gods plan and purpose this year our preaching will go to a new level. We will have four Preaching pathways this year.

  1. Matters of the heart – preparing your heart for victory
  2. The deeper things – Going deeper in the word with specific teaching.
  3. Logos injection – working through the book of Ephesians.
  4. A changed life – a testimony preach from someone who has an impacting life change story. This will be our opportunity to invite new people to come along and hear a message that will give answers to them and help them come to faith in Jesus Christ.

This will also be a year of deepening your prayer life. In the month of February we will be holding the “Fresh Air” time of prayer and fasting. As we seek God for our own lives and for this community we will open the door for the Holy Spirit to move in our lives and our church.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why is it important to consider the year ahead as you enter this new year?
  2. What do you believe God has planned for you this year?
  3. How can you express leadership as a Christian in your own situation.
  4. Are you willing to be trained and equipped for leadership?
  5. If not, why not?

Read Full Post »

three-wise-men-star

A message shared at INFINITY Church.

www.infinitychurch.org

Matt 2: 1-12 AMP

2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king (Herod the Great), magi (wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and [anxiously] asked them where the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to be born. 5 They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; For from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod secretly sent for the magi and learned from them the [exact] time the star [had first] appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them [continually leading the way] until it came and stood over the place where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And after entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, after opening their treasure chests, they presented to Him gifts [fit for a king, gifts] of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

 

These three people who visited Jesus form an important part of the Christmas story. In various translations they are referred to as Kings, wise men, and astrologers. The only account of them is here in Matthew and the story represents an important aspect of the political landscape of the time. These facts help historians determine with some accuracy the year of Christ’s birth because of the events of the census, the rulership of Herod, and Quirinius and the death of Herod. Although the story does not mention the number of wise men, the tradition says three simply because of the number of gifts given. Pinpointing who these people were is some matter of conjecture, however the general thought is that they were from the East, they were astrologers and probably Persian authorities on all religious matters and responsible for the education of the Emperor to be. The fact that they were astrologers is important, as they saw a star in the East, where they came from, and the Star, referred to as the star of Bethlehem, was bright enough and obvious enough to cause them to travel a long way and also to see that the astrological event was of such significance that they presumed it heralded the birth if a king.

Jesus birth, being the incarnation of God in human form, and being born of a virgin, is an essential and important part of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind, and as such could not go unheralded by significant astrological and natural events that lay outside human invention and give weight to the significance of this event on the world stage. Also this is a story of political power as we see the lust for power in Herod so great that he is convinced that he must kill the new born king because he sees him as some kind of threat to his own reign of power.

The three gifts given by these wise men astrologers were Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These gifts are also significant and prophetic as to the destiny of Jesus. Gold speaks of virtue and is a symbol of Kingship. Frankincense speaks of prayer and is a symbol of deity because it is an incense used to create perfume or to burn as an incense in the Jewish places of worship. An interesting fact about the collection of sap from the trees that produce Frankincense is that the trees are considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so harsh and unforgiving that they sometimes grow out of solid rock. Myrrh speaks of suffering and is a symbol of death because Myrrh was used as an embalming agent as well as being used as an ingredient of incense and the holy anointing oil in the Jewish tabernacle.

This story is important in the biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus. It declares the cataclysmic events regarding the birth of the Son of God that could not be manmade. A star was seen in the East. It was bright enough and significant enough to cause these astrologers to travel a great distance and to arrive at an exact location that by all other means was insignificant (a baby lying in a manger). They assumed it was a sign of a king being born and with their gifts it represents a confirmation of who Jesus is and what He is.

The story has three important lessons for us. Firstly the observation of nature and the stars will always bring a revelation of the truth and the wonder of God’s reality.

Romans 1:20 (AMP) For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defence. Therefore see the creator in the world around you and worship Him.

Secondly, the political world is at war with God. Herod tried to kill Jesus. Always men who have a lust for power believe that they can move people and circumstances for their own gain to obtain or retain power. Jesus, the church and individual Christians will always be subject to persecution and danger because of the lust for power in the hearts of evil men. However God has a way to protect His own. See how easily He protected Jesus Joseph and Mary. Therefore be assured of God’s protection in your life.

Thirdly, God’s provision is available for those who serve and carry Jesus. Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous rampage. The cost of their trip and lifestyle for a few years in Egypt would have been covered by the gold given at this time. Therefore be confident in God’s provision for you as you serve Jesus, listen for His direction, and carry Jesus to the world.

How beautiful that these Christmas bible stories can have critical meaning and application for God’s work in our lives now. Enjoy your Christmas time and grow in wonder about God’s work in your life and in this world.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

FAITH ACTIVATION #4AMPresentation1

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 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, 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.

Firstly these disciples were called, that means they were selected and appointed to go and do God’s work. The same applies to us. It’s good to get some training. Then Jesus sent them out. We are meant to be sent. Our Christianity doesn’t stop at the church door, we carry it out in to the places where we live. Next Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits. That means He taught them that as His representatives they had power. When Jesus says, “I give you power.” Then you have power. You have been activated! This means power over all sickness and all disease.

Matthew 10:1 AMP  Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority and power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

It’s also power over spirits like unbelief, doubt, fear, anger, you name it! These are all unclean. There is only one clean spirit – the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them, “Take nothing for the journey.” Why? He wanted them to believe for their supply to be met through their faith. Jesus expected that as they prayed and ministered to people those people would look after the disciples for food and shelter. He said to the disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.” And same applied to the people they went to. We don’t charge for prayer or healing or miracles.

Jesus recognised that there would be people who gladly welcomed the message and there would be those who rejected the message. It’s the same today. If people accept you and the message you bring stay with them and keep feeding the word to them. The hungrier people are the more you can teach them. If people are not interested then Jesus said move on. Go to others who will be open to the message. Shak the dust off your feet simply means to move on – to leave behind the previous uninterested parties and have no more to do with them. Don’t give it a second thought might be a good translation.  If the ones rejecting the message are your own loved ones that doesn’t apply. You can keep praying for them for God to soften their hearts. This is what happened with my wife’s father, who received Christ in his last year of life after ejecting Jesus all his life.

It doesn’t always go well. Sometimes we have prayed for people and the result wasn’t very exciting at all.

STORY
I visited man in his home who had a bad knee problem. God healed him miraculously and he could walk normally. So we went out into the lounge room and told the rest of the family about this significant miracle. They just kept on watching TV! It was bizarre!

Very occasionally people may be influenced by a demonic spirit. Never be afraid of these. As a born again believer you have complete authority over them. Many times evil spirits will leave peoples’ lives as you pray for them without any fuss at all.

STORY

Another man I went to visit had a drinking problem and as I began to pray for him he started to growl. I knew that was a demon spirit within him so I told him to sit still and not move until I came back. I went away and came back with another brother and we entered the house to pray for him. While I was away his elderly parents came home from grocery shopping and wondered why he wouldn’t get off the couch to help them bring in the groceries from the car. When we got there we said to him come with us and we went to his own room and the two of us prayed for him and within a couple of minutes he was set free from a demonic spirit.

STORY
A young Christian I met was a girl who has worked in an illegal casino as a roulette wheel girl. She would see spiritual things very easily including a light coming upon people when we prayed for them. At Church she explained how she was woken up in the night by strange noises, doors slamming and dark figures walking around in the house. So I taught her how to pray in the house and take authority over evil spirits. She had no more trouble.

The most important thing is to have a go!!

Just start praying for people. Be brave enough to pray and fail 20 times for the one time that a miracle happens. But my guess is you won’t need to try that many times before a prayer is answered.

STORY

One of the policemen that I met in the police station locally had injured his knee on the job. He was chasing a criminal and jumped over a fence and landed awkwardly on his feet and damaged his knee. He took a long time to recover and he could only do a desk job for a while. He was really disappointed and wanted to go back to active duty but the doctor was doubtful that would ever happen. So I asked him if I could pray for him. He said he didn’t really believe in that but I said it’s ok I’ll just put my hand on your shoulder and pray a quick prayer. I didn’t see him for a while after that but the next time I saw him he was back inactive duty and loving it.

Do you realize how powerful your prayers are? The devil can’t stop a prayer from working – he can only try and stop you praying.

John 14:12-14 (AMP)

12 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in My name [as My representative], this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified and celebrated in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name [as My representative], I will do it.

STORY
The biggest miracle so far with the police guys is when one office was on holidays and his youngest boy (aged about 3) drowned in a lake. The police office found him and applied CPR until an ambulance arrived. The air ambulance took the boy to Royal Prince Alfred where he was on life support and in an induced coma. The Officer in charge of the Epping Station was a Christian and called me, “Please pray for the boy we need a miracle.” This church prayed. After a week they brought him out of the coma and he was unresponsive, so they placed him back into a coma. We prayed all that next week. Then a second time they brought him out of the coma and he was totally normal. I have seen this boy and he is every bit totally normal. His dad was an atheist when I first met him but now he is a born again Christian and has been to our church many times.

Pray for each other in church as the first step. Then later pray for others outside the church. This gospel has power. Many people have heard about Jesus and lots of other religions, but very few have experienced the supernatural power of God. When they get a miracle they will either get mad or glad. There’s no middle ground. This verse teaches us just how powerful prayer is.

James 5:16 (AMP)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].

This what we are called to. To pray for one another. It’s part of our love contract.

1 Peter 3:9 (AMP)

9 and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection].

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Tell your story about when you prayed for someone – whether it went well or not so well. It’s ok to have a laugh!
  2. Now what did you learn from that experience?
  3. Does anyone in the group feel they have a gift of healing? of Faith? of Miracles?
  4. Who can the group pray for right now for God’s answer in people’s lives?
  5. Which ones could be prayed for personally by going to them and laying on hands?

Read Full Post »

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?

Read Full Post »

Did any heads turn when you used faith? Activate Faith

Did anyone gasp when you used faith?

Did anyone criticise you when you stepped out in faith?

Does this video make you squeamish?

The Story…

 

Matthew 14:22-30 (MSG)

Walking on the Water

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

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

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

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

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

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

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

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

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

It’s vital to hear the voice of God

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

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

 

What has He called you to do?

MY STORY

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t it time to activate your faith?

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

 

Obedience has a cost.

The disciples

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

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

MY STORY

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

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

Fear will stop you obeying God.

Peter

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

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

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

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

Fear will target your insecurity.

If I obey God how will I provide for myself?

Wrong – God is your provision.

Fear will target what others think.

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

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

Ultimately, eternity will tell the story of your obedience.

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

What decisions will really impact eternity?

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

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

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

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO ACTIVATE YOUR FAITH?

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

Read Full Post »

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?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »