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Posts Tagged ‘love’

TWO WORDS TO TAKE HOME. Matt & Jacqui with Craig

I do a lot of weddings. As I stand at the top of the aisle, looking at the bride and groom, I see that real sparkle in each eye, I see the smile on her face as she thinks about the protection this man will give her over the next few decades. She dreams of growing old together, she thinks about the children they will have, she remembers the feel of his strong arms wrapped around her to comfort her. He is gobsmacked with her beauty. She reminds him of some movie star. He thinks about the love making tonight and right through the honeymoon. He sees something magical in that sparkle in her eye. He knows she can be a handful at times but he loves the challenge of working through the issues and coming out with answers.

Fast forward any amount of time you like, six months, two years, ten years. Now she feels unprotected from his hurtful words, she’s not sure she wants to grow old with him, the kids just drain all her energy, she wonders if he has any arms. At this time he still thinks she’s gorgeous but seems like she’s off limits a lot! That sparkle has turned into “the look”, he feels like when they talk they never seem to resolve anything and right now the bills, the mortgage and the conflict at work feel like they are crushing him.

What happened?

Unmet expectations! Is this your marriage? Don’t despair. I can help you. This picture can turn around. Things will be better. I just want you to remember two words from today’s message – Cherish and Respect. Can you write those down somewhere?

I have counselled a lot of marriages, I have been to a ton of marriage seminars. I have taught on marriage and most importantly I have been married for 37 years! The couples who make it long term in marriage have learned how to work at it and work through it. There are two words that when applied will really help you build your marriage stronger. Are you ready?

CHERISH – THE WORD FOR THE GUYS.

OK guys don’t tune out right now. This is the moment to tune in big time! Just think right now… I’m going to tell you who will win the grand final this year, how to make a million dollars in one month and how to look buff while eating anything you want…. Are you listening?

Imagine you are the father of a little girl, she’s about say 5 years old and she is about to be attacked by a stranger. Your precious little princess is in danger, she is so innocent, so vulnerable, so unprotected, so what do you do? You spring into warrior mode! You’re going to protect her at all costs! You’re going to save, protect, rescue, comfort, hold secure, and kiss away the tears until that little girl feels safe once more.

HOLD THAT THOUGHT!!

That’s how to treat your wife every day. The number one need our wives have is security. Listen, they may come across tough, they may have a few choice things to say about those other tuckshop mothers. They may be able to bite the head off a klutz that cuts them off in traffic, BUT, to you she is your little ewe lamb! She wants to held, to be understood, to be embraced, to be comforted, to be protected every day. Ask your wife to give you a photo of her as a little girl. Keep it in your wallet.  I guarantee she will find one for you in ten minutes flat when you get home. Girls if you ask your hubby to find a photo of you for his wallet it may take about 15 years!!

Listen to this story about the ewe lamb.

2 Sam 12:1-7 (ESV)

12 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Guys, if you can get this, it will really help your marriage. Underneath the surface of every great woman who can hold her own in any argument, rage at unrighteousness, terrify the kids, and build a global corporation there is a little girl who will only be vulnerable to you and only if you become that warrior protector.

IT’S CALLED CHERISH.

Ephes 5:25-30 ESV

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.

How to Cherish.

See her as that little girl that needs your protection. Hold her. Look into her eyes and be amazed, tell her that you love her at least once every day. Bring home flowers to surprise her. Write a note and hide it in the kitchen somewhere expressing you devotion. Plan a honeymoon weekend once a year. Ring up from work with no other agenda than to say, “I was thinking about you.” Listen when she talks, look into her eyes when she’s talking to you. Write a list of ten things you love about her, leave it lying around the house. When you’re in bed at night hold her tight just for the embrace of intimacy, not every hug will end in sex. Intimacy is more about adoring and cherishing. Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty! It’s a generalisation but women endure sex to obtain intimacy, men endure intimacy to obtain sex.

NOW IT’S THE GIRL’S TURN.

Respect your man. You will never be able to fathom the fact that your man at times feels truly inadequate. The toughest of us, and we will never show it, even to our wives, but we often feel like a failure. We often feel like we should have done better. We often feel that we have let ourselves down and didn’t become what we should have become. Unless we are one of the very few sporting heroes or multimillionaire overachievers we won’t be entirely satisfied with life. We will often carry deep regrets of how we could have made better decisions. It feels like not very many people really look up to us and really respect us. So when we come home, it’s supposed to be a safe place, but if we are disrespected there, it’s crushing.  But we will never show it even to those closest to us. We will either tune out to the pain by watching the footy, or we will get mad and go ape about little things. Some guys drink, some guys do porn, some become workaholics, and some just give up and go missing.

Watch this great video – https://youtu.be/J7FNn_FuT6Q

Maybe you feel like telling us to grow up, get some guts; but it doesn’t help, we’ve been trying that for years. Just like you, very deep down inside of us is that little boy who has very big dreams and just needs someone to believe in them. Who will do it if you don’t? With all our faults and failings, we still really want to succeed and sometimes we just don’t know how. The responsibility is on us to lead and provide and be the strong one, and if that isn’t happening we can find it very tough, but we will never tell you!

How to respect your man.

Just simply say, “I believe in you honey” Pray for your man. Tell someone else how amazing he is for something he did, not just because he has great buns or guns. Tell your kids they have the best dad ever. When there’s trouble at work, financial pressure, or any kind of struggle for him, let him know you have confidence in him to overcome. You know he can do it! We all need a little help from time to time but if we live with criticism we will become broken down or we will leave. You didn’t marry Mr.  perfect, you married “Mr. right for you.” Every time you build him up he becomes the better man you always wanted. Listen to what Jesus says to you.

Colossians 3:18(AMP)

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and fitting in the Lord.

Ephes 5:33b AMP

and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].

Press the reset button.

Learn to press the reset button

Building great relationships is a task for courageous people. Great relationships are built on love. Love is often accompanied by wonderful feelings of joy, life, and energy. But love is not always practiced in a time of positive feelings.

Love is kind and patient. Sometimes I don’t feel kind and patient! Sometimes I feel like telling someone off or I feel like walking away because I’m sick of waiting. When I have chosen love, I remember what love is, and I choose to practice love at a time when my feelings are not positive.  If I don’t feel loving – it’s not that I don’t love, it’s that my feelings are telling me one thing and my values are telling me something different.

Love is the value and the commitment we have to do the highest good for this person. Whether I feel like it or not I choose kindness, patience and trust. Love is choosing to act the best way, no matter how I feel in my emotions.

Of course there are times when we fail and let one another down. A courageous person says sorry. A courageous partner says I forgive, and we press the reset button. Start over with a fresh motivation to continue in love.

Today I pray you both choose love and be courageous in saying sorry and forgiving one another. I believe then you will build a strong marriage.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How much do you think your childhood and upbringing have an effect on the way you do relationships?
  2. Have you ever thought deeply about what your partner may have lived through on the journey to adulthood?
  3. How can two broken people do life together?
  4. Husbands, when was the last time you felt really loved and admired by your wife? Share with her.
  5. Wives when was the time you most felt cherished and adored by your husband? Share with him.

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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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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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NATION CHANGING FAITH #2PMSmall Nation Changing

John 3:36 NLT

36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.

What does this verse mean to you? The up side is that if I believe in Jesus I have eternal life. That’s truly great! The down side is that anyone who does not obey the Son of God, that’s Jesus, will never experience eternal life – ever! That’s confronting! I can think of a lot of people who don’t obey the Lord Jesus Christ. All around us are people who don’t know Jesus. Couple this with knowledge that each verse is divinely inspired and infallible (See here for evidence). All around us people are perishing! If you are truly saved that is disturbing for you and creates a compassion for those who don’t know Jesus and drives us to want to reach them effectively with the message of Jesus love.

With this in mind Jesus gathered His disciples together as He was about to leave planet earth and He gave them instructions, what to do next.

Luke 24:47-49 NLT

47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.

49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Jesus asked them to go to the nations. They went….

Every disciple of the 12 went to preach the gospel and 10 of the 12 were martyred for their faith.

My story starts as a uni student in QLD when I was studying Electrical Engineering in my second year. People from the INC church in Brisbane came down to the uni and sang in a band and someone preached. I just happened to be in the same room as that which took place from the church.

My life was full of waisted energy, getting drunk a lot and leading the Engineering Student Association which was mostly about booze ups and blue movies. Since school I had failed a few subjects and was repeating them all without even a clue whether I wanted to be an engineer. But then Jesus touched my life. He became to very real to me and I changed my whole outlook on life when I was born again.

There was a life changing experience at salvation.

Right away I got involved in the church and youth work and serving in Kids Church. I gave up drinking, swearing and sleeping around because Jesus was so real to me and I was very grateful that He had died for me and rescued me from hell. We studied the bible and we could see the reality of heaven and hell.

Hell was real and so many people were going there. I read scriptures like this:

Rev 14:10-11 NLT   10 must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. 11 The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.”

That sounds horrific and if that’s real then I need to do all I can to stop people going there.

There’s a motivation to serve Him.

Even though I was studying at Uni, I still managed to get to  the church twice every Sunday and Wednesday night for bible study, the early morning prayer meeting at 5am every Friday morning, then go out on the streets every Friday night to share the gospel with people until 12-am – 2am when we would drive home exhausted. There was youth meetings every Saturday, Uni Study and of course time with my girlfriend. No wonder my poor old mum got upset with me for not mowing the lawn sometimes.

There was an ethic to work hard.

For the disciples, the call of Jesus was to be with Him. The lawyers and Pharisees of the day took note that the disciples had been “with Him”. Maybe you didn’t hear an audible voice, maybe nothing really that dramatic has happened to you. But I want to ask you this question?

Did Jesus really touch your life? Have you got a compassion for the lost people all around you? Then all the motivation you need is to see the reality of heaven and hell and commit to hard work for the most important task on earth. That’s the call of God to be with Him and serve Jesus with all you’ve got.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Are you a patriot? Do you love Australia… Its people I mean?
  2. What would you do to win them to Christ?
  3. What if you were lost and you were counting on someone from Plenty Valley Church to tell you about Jesus?
  4. How many Aussies will end up in heaven?
  5. What;’s your philosophy of life concerning enjoying life and making a difference in eternity?

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God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne. Ps 47:8 NLTSmall Nation Changing

We are part of a great movement of churches called International Network of Churches. Originally named Christian Outreach Centre, our movement began in 1974 with the church located West End in Brisbane. The founder, Clark Taylor was an unlikely choice as God’s choices often are. He was a cattle drover from the Northern Territory who got saved at a Billy Graham Crusade in Brisbane in 1959. As the church began, there was explosive growth, with many salvations and miracles of healing and very soon passionate men put their hand up to plant churches and so the one became many as new churches sprung up around QLD and NSW.

Pretty soon people wanted to travel overseas to plant churches and COC began in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand, New Guinea and further afield. As courageous men and women travelled to start churches in each nation there was a strong belief that the purpose was nation changing.

As I joined the church staff in 1980 as a youth leader, we were starting to expand across Australia and the vision was clear. AUSTRALIA FOR CHRIST.

We have a belief that God can change a whole nation. The gospel is the power of God that changes lives and impacts nations. The church is the plan of God to liberate the broken humanity and bring nations back to God. Jesus made the mandate clear when He said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I was dramatically affected by the vision. I wanted to lay my life down for the vision of Australia For Christ. How was I so moved? It was revelation, I had a clear understanding of how lost people are. We studied the bible and it was clear that without Jesus as saviour people were headed for hell, a Christless eternity of torment and destruction that lasts for ever and ever. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for what God had done for me in rescuing me from sin and death. I was saved and going to heaven now and what right did I have to enjoy such a huge and free gift while not having a care about those perishing around me. I was like Paul who said, “I feel myself under a sort of universal obligation, I owe something to all men, from cultured Greek to ignorant savage. That is why I want, as far as my ability will carry me, to preach the Gospel to you who live in Rome as well.” Rom 1:14 Phillips.

I was and am possessed by this vision. I love my country and I am passionate to see it come to Christ. I am believing and working as hard as I can to reach as many people as I can with the unmatchable message of His love and forgiveness so that far less Australians end up in hell than would have if I had not lived. I have been serving full time for 35 years yet I believe we have only just begun. My vision is to see 100 churches in Victoria and Tasmania before I retire or pass on. Is there anyone who would dare to believe with me?

God can change nations. O nations of the world, recognize the Lord; recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong. Ps 96:7 NLT

In Nepal, INC has a leader Ps Raju & Samita Sundas, who has been mightily used by God to plant churches and work alongside the new president of Nepal in assisting to form the constitution. He has started schools and a relief agency and has one of the largest churches in the nation. See here for more information.

Can God change nations? It’s easy to answer that question, if he can create the heavens and the earth, of course he can change nations. The important question is will He use us to change our nation?

Through Moses God changed the nation of Egypt and set Israel free to go out from under slavery and enter the Promised Land. Through Daniel God changed the heart of King Darius to follow The One True God and forsake their idols.  God says, “I have a plan for the whole earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations.” Is 14:26 NLT.  God has changed nations in the modern era. In 1904 revival broke out in Wales and the whole nation was dramatically affected. Since the 1920’s South Korea has experienced a growth in Christianity from negligible levels in 1945 to over 30% of the population now born again. In Africa and South America national revival has created nations that have large percentages of born again Christians as their population.

Watch the hand of God on his servant Daniel.

Daniel 6:1-10  NLT

6 Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. 2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. 3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.

4 Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. 5 So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”

6 So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! 7 We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. 8 And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” 9 So King Darius signed the law.

10 But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.

Daniel was old, he was faithful, he was stable, he had a real faith in God and a trust that God was in control. He prayed. People were out to get him because God was with him to such an extent that they were exceedingly jealous.

When the King proclaimed a decree that no man shall pray to any God for 30 days, Daniel did not fear, he continued to pray. Sure enough the enemies were watching and waiting, and they saw him pray. He didn’t hide away he opened the window towards Jerusalem. Consequently the governors brought him before the King, this man has broken your commandment O King! He must be thrown to the lions. Reluctantly the king followed through on his own decree. But he agonized over the fate of Daniel and fasted all night. In the morning the king rushed down to the lion’s den to see if Daniel had survived. He must have had some expectation. He’s alive!

Daniel’s God answered the king’s prayer, now the king was convinced, there is a God in heaven and he is Daniel’s God. Here’s his conclusion.

Daniel 6:25-27  NLT

25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you!

26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end.

27 He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

God changed a nation through one man. God can change Australia. Will you believe? If you believe, will you pray? If you believe, will you serve the Lord?

If the vision for 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 the 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.

To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. Rev 2:26

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Discuss how grateful you are for your own salvation.

2. What can you believe for in terms of the growth of Christianity in Australia

3.  Do you have a vision for Australia to come to Christ?

4. How can you contribute to seeing this nation find Jesus Christ?

5.  Are you called to the ministry (part time or full time)?

 

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FAITH SHARING #4AM Faith-440x330

Having studied at university, I had a confidence to be in that space and a desire to reach other uni students with the gospel. So when I was first on staff as a youth pastor in Brisbane in my early ministry days I felt God leading me to go the QLD Uni and do some outdoor preaching. This seemed like quite a challenge for me, but I really felt compelled by God to do it. So I went to case out the joint. I saw that lots of students ate their lunch outside sitting in the sun on grassy areas and also the uni refectory (Café) was a great place with an outdoor section that would lend itself to some preaching opportunities. So I rolled up one Tuesday lunch time and decided I’m going to preach at 1pm in the refectory. Well 1pm came and went and I was still sitting nervously at a table. 1.15pm came and went – same thing. Right through until I jumped up onto a table and began to preach about Jesus at about 1.50pm.

The most amazing thing about that experience is that my fear and nerves completely disappeared when I actually stood on that table and began to speak. I had to overcome fear because I had faith and I knew the reality of heaven and hell.

 When your faith is strong, you want to tell others about the gospel.

When your faith is strong you know God has changed your life and it’s so good that you want to tell others about it – just like this leper in Mark 1:40-45

40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.(KJV)

When I was first saved Chris (now my wife) and I joined the youth street witnessing team. We went in to the city every Friday night to share our faith with anyone we met on the streets. Over the years we must have shared our faith with thousands of people. Having faith means that the reality of your salvation completely dominates your life and eternal aspects overshadow temporary ones.

  1.  When your faith is strong, you want to tell others about the gospel.

Luke 14:21-23 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.(NLT)

When our church was in the Mill Park location, we did quite a lot of door knocking in the Mill Park area. The methodology was to take a survey and go door to door on a Saturday afternoon and ask people questions like, “What do you see as the greatest needs in this local area.” And “How can the church be part of the answer to that need?” If people were open to chatting about these things you could take the questions further and ask about their faith and then share you own faith experience.

One thing I noticed about this task was that the results were greatly affected by what you believe. If I went with confidence that God was with me, and these people would be open and receptive, I had a great time and many people allowed me to share my faith with them; but if I went with fear and trepidation expecting to be punched in the face at every door, then I had knock back after knock back and a miserable day.

It matters what you believe!

2. When your faith is strong, you believe that the harvest is ripe.

 

John 4:35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.(NLT)

 

Sometimes the people you share you faith with reject the message at first. One of the police guys I spoke to many years ago was pretty confident in his atheism. He had it all figured out. Although he was raised as a catholic, he had no ongoing faith. I shared a couple of times with him and it seemed there was no real headway being made. Then a situation arose where his young son was almost drowned and was in hospital ICU in an induced coma. The station sergeant asked me and the church to pray. I believe God did a miracle and the boy survived unscathed.

 

In sharing with the policeman later he was able to explain the great outcome in natural terms and seemed unaffected in his faith. But God was at work, and after many opportunities to share faith with him and the added impact of another policeman who was a believer also sharing with him, he came to faith and was baptised last April.

 

  1. When you’re strong in faith you believe that the word is at work in people’s lives.

 

You don’t fear failure, because you believe God is in control. A person’s immediate response is pretty much irrelevant – the words you speak when sharing your faith are like seeds that rest in their heart and it begins a work to change them. When you’re a person of faith you know that it’s God’s timing not yours and you’re at peace with His process. Our only responsibility is just to shine the light.

 

One of our regular coffee spots is in the Plenty Valley Town Centre. We have been going there now for years and we know all the waiters and waitresses very well. It’s like we do life with them. We share their highs and lows and tell them about our lives as well. One of the waitresses contracted bowel cancer and passed away a couple of years ago. Before she passed it was an opportunity for Chris to go and visit her in her home with her family and pray with her during her illness. She opened up her heart to Jesus and was assured of her salvation. These and other people could see the love and peace of God through us as we did life with them, and trust was built.

 

  1. When you’re faith is strong, you approach life with hope and joy and it shows.

 

2 Cor 2:15-16   15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing:

16 To the latter it is an aroma [wafted] from death to death [a fatal odour, the smell of doom]; to the former it is an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is qualified (fit and sufficient) for these things? [Who is able for such a ministry? We?](AMP)

 

On Friday it was time to do a phone changeover so I went down to the Telstra store in Plenty Valley Town Centre and sat with a young man who was pretty quiet in his manner, so after he completed all the paperwork to hand over my new phone I asked him about his faith in God. He explained he was brought up catholic but had no ongoing faith. I shared how I had experienced Jesus’ reality, and invited him to come along to the church here whenever he could, and gave him a card.

 

  1. When your faith is strong, you believe God is organising your day and He creates opportunities.

 

Every day you live, God is at work with you in designing your day. He walks with you and you walk with him. Nothing is wasted, nothing is frivolous. All things work together for good to those that love God and called according to His purpose.

 

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].(AMP)

 

Have a bigger expectation of God. Be confident that He is leading you every day, life isn’t random, it’s planned.

 

God has planned your day, because He knows all things and His design is for you to know Christ and be forgiven. Let today be a day when you experience God’s reality through the love of Jesus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Within your group can you make a list of all the day to day things we do that are more important than sharing your faith?

2. Is there anyone in the group who had another person share the gospel with them before they became a Christian?

3. What if that person had chickened out and not shared with you?

4. How can we strengthen our faith so that sharing it is our great passion?

5. Do you believe the harvest is ripe? What does that mean?

 

 

 

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