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LOVE CONQUERS  #2PMLove Conquers Combined 150 ppi

PETER DO YOU LOVE ME?

Ever been put on the spot? I have. After I had been saved only about 7 weeks after I had given my heart to Jesus, I was asked in front of all my drinking buddies, “Will you go and represent the University student union at the Licencing Commission hearing so we ca have a pub on campus?” Only thing is, I’m saved now and I don’t believe we should have a pub on campus. So, I said so and told them I’m a born again Christian now!! The jaws dropped!

John 21:15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”  “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.  16Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”  “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.  17A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

Ever been put on the spot? Asked a question that probes the very depth of your heart while everyone is watching. Peter had failed, no doubt, and everybody knew it. Jesus told him, “You will deny me three times”. And Jesus was wrong how many times with His predictions?  Peter was asked a question that pulls out what’s inside and makes him realise what it’s all about really. Yes you failed, but where are you at right now on the inside? Do you love me?

I’m asking you the same question here tonight. Do you love Jesus?

What will keep you going for Jesus through the years? Some Christians who have done the journey with me over the years have fallen away from the faith. Others have stopped going to church and have retained the faith but become unproductive. All they do is criticise the church and all that that they believe is wrong with it; all the time not realising they are pulling down the bride for whom Jesus died.

What will keep you hot for God no matter what happens?

I’m going to make a statement to you right now that it would pay you to never forget. Your love for Jesus is the only thing that will keep you from being lost between now and when you met Jesus in heaven. LOVE CONQUERS!

Jesus foretold what Peter would face as a believer… Luke 22:31 31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain,

32 But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.

The same for all of us too, satan desires to sift us as wheat; to shake us up. Only what cannot be shaken shall remain. Heb 12:26-29 (NLT)

26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.   28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.

We are in the last days. That is the time period immediately before the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This period will not be a Sunday picnic. Listen to how Jesus describes it…

Jesus predicts what happens in the last days just before His return..

Matt 24:3-8 (NLT)

3Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”4Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

He also says…

Matt 24:9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.  (NLT)

These are some of the things that real followers of Jesus will face.

  1. Insult, Vilification, Persecution, and violence. (The article about schools in the USA http://freedomsback.com/michelle-malkin/one-nation-under-godlessness/) The proposed legislation under the Labour Party in Victoria strengthening the anti-discrimination laws to work against Christian Schools. (http://www.acl.org.au/2014/11/why-labors-policy-will-hurt-christian-schools/)
  2. Financial isolation and the confiscating of money and possessions.
  3. Opposition of family, friends and people who once were Christians. Mark 13:12  “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
  4. The temptation of offences – to live in unforgiveness.

 

HE THAT ENDURES TILL THE END SHALL BE SAVED

Matt 10:22 (NLT) And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.

IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME

2 Tim 3:1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.(NLT)

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LOVE CONQUERS #1AMLove Conquers Combined 150 ppi

Love is the greatest force on earth. At times when we feel that love has gone or been defeated, it rises again to overcome indomitable forces. All love comes from God. God is love and human love is the shadow of divine love. God’s kind of love is a selfless love, a love that is given expecting nothing in return. A love bestowed upon mankind undeserved. A love poured out without reservation and independent of the worthiness of the recipients.

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 AMP)

When your day seems like it couldn’t get any worse; your greatest hope is love, because Love Conquers anything and everything. Are you facing a firestorm of conflict and broken relationships? Are people speaking against you and saying outright lies to condemn and vilify you? Then Love is waiting for you and Love Conquers. This Love of God, so freely available to your heart, will fill you so that you can overcome anything and everything that comes your way. Jesus has given you the supernatural power to love the bitterest of enemies. His love in you will always conquer.

Jesus came into this world to save sinners. We did not deserve His love, but He came anyway. He came to give His life as a ransom for many. He had to endure the anger and bitter hostility of man against Him as He suffered and gave up His life for us that we may find hope and a way of salvation. Mankind is so broken by sin and so blind and often people cannot see that God even exists; yet God reaches out to each and every person with His great love to seek and to save those that are lost. Man was lost, so utterly lost. We were born into sin, there is no person on earth that walks in righteousness every day. We were so lost and nothing could save us, we had no hope, but love conquers and God made a way purely by love to rescue mankind and provide a way of escape from death and judgement. The cross is the story of Love Conquers.

My wife’s father is 83 and last week he received Jesus as his saviour. After so many years of belligerently opposing God and refusing to listen to the message of God’s love; now in his final days his defences all gone and hardened mind broken down, he responded like a little child and asked Jesus to forgive his sins and come into his life. He is saved today because Love Conquers. Is there a loved one you long to see come to Christ? Know this, that love conquers. There is no one so hard, so tough, so unreachable that love cannot breakthrough. You can rely on Love, you can hope in this all conquering love.

Whatever you face, love conquers, no matter how terrible and bleak the future seems, Love Conquers. No mountain is too high for love to climb; no valley so deep love can’t find the way; no fear so dreaded that Love can’t bring the flood of courage that brings you through. Love, God’s love, will make you conquer!!

As Jesus began His ministry he faced solid opposition from day one. One day in the temple He cured a man with a withered hand. A act of love, yet He was accused of healing or effectively “working” on the Sabbath. In other words He was accused of sin. The religious leaders who were supposed to be helping people and leading them to God were so often mired in self-righteousness and judgementalism so that people were put off knowing God. Jesus kept on loving and giving in the face of blind opposition and evil intent. He never gave up because Love Conquers!

Jesus kept on sharing the good news of God’s love, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life; yet he faced opposition at every turn. He was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners. These were the very people He wanted to reach out to and heal and show them a way of righteousness, but He was condemned by ignorant and wicked men.

Is your mountain that you face the thoughts in your mind? Are you so burdened with an inner struggle with your own thoughts that you are way past being just troubled, but really you are stuck! Love Conquers. This message is for you. There is no trouble so big that God’s love can’t meet that challenge. There is no difficulty so huge that God’s love cannot lead you through and out the other side to a place of life and peace. You can reach out to God and receive His love. It is a conquering love. To conquer the really massive things, the insurmountable things, the impossible things. All our hope is in His great love. It works!!

 11 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and [a]advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and [b]advantageous things to those who [c]keep on asking Him! Matt 7:11 (AMP)

Later at Jesus’ trial, they spoke outright lies to condemn Him saying He made Himself out to be king and threatened to tear down the temple. At these times He remained silent and did not answer His accusers. Pilate said, “I find no fault in this man.” Yet the crowd screamed for His blood. The unrighteousness of man was never more brazenly displayed as when the people of Jerusalem cried out to Pilate, “Crucify him” over and over again. This was their Messiah, the one who was prophesied to come for centuries. Yet they rose up in anger and called for His blood. “His blood be upon us” they cried, fully taking responsibility for death of the saviour. He was bound and lashed with the stroke of a whip. That whip that was a devilishly ingenious tool of ultimate torture, which flayed the skin to the bone with its lead pieces tied into the leather thong. Over and over they stroked Jesus till His whole torso was a bloody mess of broken skin and muscle exposed.

Yet He did not cry out for release, because Love Conquers. With every lash stroke the temptation was to give up, to say “that’s enough”; to want to the angels to come and rescue Him from this murderous torture. But the more man kept punishing the saviour of the world, the more He kept on going with enduring such contradiction of sinners against himself.

2 He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds. Hebrews 12:2b-3 (AMP)

They nailed His hands, His feet, to the cross. In acute agony He cried not for release and not against his tormentors, but to ask for their forgiveness, “They know not what they do.” He said, because Love conquers. And love conquered the power of sin in mankind.

16 For I will not contend forever, neither will I be angry always, for [if I did stay angry] the spirit [of man] would faint and be consumed before Me, and [My purpose in] creating the souls of men would be frustrated. Isaiah 57:16(AMP)

Finally they raised the cross and lifted high the Son of God. They continued to mock Him. “Save yourself.” they cried, “if you be the Son of God!” Such dishonour, such venom, was it not enough for Jesus to say, “Enough, away with them.”? No, He endured, He continued in love because Love Conquers and love conquered the unrighteousness of man.

Are you facing a diagnosis of death? Is your doctor and medical tests saying all the wrong things about your future? Remember Love Conquers, Jesus took the stroke of the whip on His back so that by faith you can say, “By His stripes I am healed”.

Even I His dying moments one man, a thief, railed against Jesus and mocked Him. He still continued, could any man be His strength and support at this horrendous hour, no; none stood with Him, He was completely alone. He endured the savagery of the cross and the utter rejection of His own creation because of sin and He never flagged, but kept on going with grace and love because Love Conquers.

Love never gives up. You can count on love. If Jesus went to the cross and died for you when all the while you knew not how great His love was or even had the desire to receive Him, then how much more will He come to your aid now that you have yielded your life to Him?

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [[g]resurrection] life.

11 Not only so, but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God [in His love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received and enjoy [our] reconciliation. Rom 5:10-11 (AMP)

What are you facing today?

A mountain of debt? A tumult of conflict? A wasteland of doubt? A symphony of mental anguish? An unbelievable diagnosis of pain and sickness?

Then be persuaded, be convinced, be consumed by the courage of love. Love is your answer. Love will carry you through.

LOVE CONQUERS THE HARDEST HEART

LOVE CONQUERS THE GREATEST OFFENCE

LOVE CONQUERS HATRED AGAINST YOU

LOVE CONQUERS THE DEEPEST SORROW

LOVE CONQUERS THE MOST DIFFICULT JOURNEY

LOVE CONQUERS THE LONGEST DELAY

LOVE CONQUERS THE SADDEST NEWS.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. The bible says, “God is Love”. What does this mean to you?

2. What is the biggest challenge you are facing or have faced?

3. What is God’s best outcome for you in that Challenge?

4. You can rely on God’s love to see you through, how can you receive that love?

5. How can you love one another with God’s love to give support to each other in conquering the difficulties?

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LOVE INVESTS #4PMJim_Elliot

This month we have been preaching on Love Invests. It’s about making provision for the future so that others may live. Your money is your life. When you give financially you are giving part of your life. When someone loses faith and starts to move away from church, the very first thing that stops is their giving.

In our church 53 % of our congregation are tithers. That is, they give 10% or more of their finance to God through the church. In the Late Service only 23% of the congregation are tithers. Some more revelation needed there.

The greatest investment of all – you own life.

Matt 16:24-26  Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [[p]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

25 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed [q]life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] [r]life [in the kingdom of God]? (AMP)

Matt 16:24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?(MESS)

The Jim Elliott Story

Jim” Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador.  The Elliot’s parents encouraged their children to be adventurous, and encouraged them to “live for Christ”.[4] While at Camp Wycliffe, The missionaries told him of the Huaorani – also called the “Auca”, the Quichua word for “savage” – a group of Ecuadorian indigenous people considered violent and dangerous to outsiders. Elliot remained unsure about whether to go to Ecuador or India until July. His parents and friends wondered if he might instead be more effective in youth ministry in the United States, but considering the home church “well-fed”, he felt that international missions should take precedence.[12]

Elliot and Fleming arrived in Ecuador on February 21, 1952, with the purpose of evangelizing Ecuador’s Quechua Indians. They first stayed in Quito, and then moved to the jungle. They took up residence at the Shandia mission station. On October 8, 1953, he married fellow Wheaton alumna and missionary Elisabeth Howard. Their only child, Valerie, was born February 27, 1955. While working with Quechua Indians, Elliot began preparing to reach the Huaorani.

Elliot and four other missionaries – Ed McCullyRoger YouderianPete Fleming, and their pilot, Nate Saint – made contact from their airplane with the Huaorani using a loudspeaker and a basket to pass down gifts. After several months, the men decided to build a base a short distance from the Indian village, along the Curaray River. There they were approached one time by a small group of Huaorani and even gave an airplane ride to one curious Huaorani whom they called “George” (his real name was Naenkiwi). Encouraged by these friendly encounters, they began plans to visit the Huaorani, without knowing that Naenkiwi had lied to the others about the missionaries’ intentions.[1] Their plans were preempted by the arrival of a larger group of about 10 Huaorani warriors, who killed Elliot and his four companions on January 8, 1956. Elliot’s body was found downstream, along with those of the other men, except that of Ed McCully which was found even farther downstream.

His journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24 in the Bible). “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” This is the quote that is most often attributed to Elliot.

You can Go to church, you can pray to Jesus and ask forgiveness of your sins, but Jesus is looking for true disciples who will lay down their life for Him. Some in death, others in life long service. What will it be for you?

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LOVE INVESTS #4AMLove Invests Combined

This month our theme is LOVE INVESTS. The scriptures teach us the value of considering the future generations: Prov 13:22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (NIV) Love thinks not only about the present needs but lays up in store for the future so that those following may have their needs met. Love makes provision for the future so that those you love, who come after you, will be blessed with all that God can provide for them. Love shows wisdom in not only leaving a financial blessing but providing it in a way that is most beneficial to the receivers; such as an inheritance kept until you are 18.

As Christians we are concerned not only about the material provision for future generations but about the spiritual provision also. Love sees far into the future and looks longingly for the next generation to know Jesus Christ and sees the families, cities and nations turning to God. Love invests financially for kingdom purpose into the future. That is why in this church we gather together, then we dream a dream of what the future may hold and sow a seed of finance to make the future better for others. We call this Kingdom Advance.

What you gave last year made a difference!

YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS

Last Friday night we had 82 youth at the Foundation including a small number from two other churches. Right now we have 12 trained youth leaders with 6 UC’s in church and homes and 6 more operating in the schools themselves.

We have 7 Young Adults leaders with Red Frogs ministry taking place in four locations at Latrobe Uni and NMIT. There are 3 UC’s operating with Young Adults.

Yesterday we had training for the state youth leadership. Of the 15 or so there 11 of them were from this church.

These leaders are the future church planters and leaders of our movement into the next three decades.

BECAUSE YOU GAVE LAST YEAR THERE ARE MORE AND BETTER EQUIPPED YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS LEADERS TO TAKE OUR MOVEMENT FORWARD

DESTINY RESCUE

On the video message last night Jenni Kirwan shared about an amazing young woman who was terribly abused in a brothel for a long period. She was angry and much damaged, but Jesus changed her life. She was transformed. Later she trained and became a hairdresser and has moved out to own her own business. Saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.

BECAUSE YOU GAVE LAST YEAR MORE GIRLS LIKE THIS ONE HAVE BEEN RESCUED AND THEIR LIVES TURNED AROUND FOR GOD.

COMMUNITY KITCHEN

Every week on a Tuesday, this church feeds about 100 people at the Community Kitchen. Not just food but also love is provided to a multitude of people who are lost and lonely, the disabled, the elderly, the carers, those suffering with mental illness and the poor. Together we are doing what Jesus asked us to do when He said, in Luke 14:12-14  Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbours. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (NLT)

BECAUSE YOU GAVE LAST YEAR WE WERE ABLE TO FEED THESE PRECIOUS PEOPLE AND PROVIDE THEM WITH LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE.

The local City Council CEO spoke glowingly about our local church to people who are not part of this church because we are making an impact in our community.

COMMUNITY IMPACT EVENTS – FAMILY VIOLENCE

In the last 12 months this local church has run a White Ribbon Dinner and participated in community events to assist in the prevention of Family Violence. Changing the culture of a large community is a long range and difficult task, but this church is firmly located in the being part of the answer side of the issue.

BECAUSE YOU GAVE MORE PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF THE FAMILY VIOLENCE ISSUE AND WE ARE CLOSER TO SEEING A REDUCTION IN FAMILY VIOLENCE.

REFURBISH MEDIA, SOUND AND STAGE.

Now that we have occupied this building for four and a half years, it’s important to upgrade those resources that wear out, grow old and stop working. It’ also important to stay relevant with the best sound and vision equipment so that we can communicate more effectively with the people coming to our church.

BECAUSE YOU GAVE LAST YEAR WE WERE ABLE TO UPGRADE OUR COMPUTER SYSTEM FOR WIDE SCREEN AND INCREASE OUR SCREEN SIZE, ADD NEW MICROPHONES AND PAINT SOME AREAS OF THE CHURCH AND PURCHASE MORE FURNITURE.

Over the last twelve months, the givers made a difference.

I bought a bible and changed a nation

Until the last half of the Twentieth Century, Korea was one of the most resistant nations in the world to the message of the gospel. A deeply Buddhist and shamanistic culture, Korea was known to the world as the “Hermit Kingdom.” The first Christian mission to Korea came when Catholic missionaries arrived in 1784, but these Catholic missionaries met mostly resistance in the form of indifference, persecution and even martyrdom. Anti-Catholic persecution climaxed in the infamous 1866 massacre when 10,000 bishops, priests and Korean converts were martyred for their faith. (1)

A century after the Catholics arrived the first Protestant missionaries landed at Inchon near the city of Seoul. In 1865, an abortive landing had been made by the Welsh missionary Robert Thomas who was beaten to death by anti-foreign Koreans but not before he had thrown a bundle of Bibles to the watching crowds. Although most of the Bibles were burned, a few were saved and were used to convert to Christ the very man who had murdered Thomas. Later the way had been prepared during the 1870’s when John Ross, succeeded in translating the New Testament into the Korean language. Coming from America in 1884 were Horace Underwood, a Presbyterian, and Henry Appenzeller, a Methodist. Both men were from the Student volunteer movement and came together on the same ship. Since the Presbyterians sent more missionaries to Korea than the Methodists, Presbyterianism soon became the largest Christian movement in the country, with the Methodists and Catholics growing more slowly. Progress was difficult for all Christian churches for the first century. By 1900, Korean Christians numbered only .4% of the population. In many ways, Korea was like Japan which still has a similar tiny proportion of Christians.

By the end of the century, it was clear that South Korea was well on its way towards becoming a Christian nation. By 2012 the percentage of Christians in the population of the nation stood at 47.7%. From small beginnings in the early years of the century, the Korean pentecostals added their spiritual fervor and organizational skills to the massive growth of the church in the nation. By 1995, the Pentecostals had grown to be the third largest church in South Korea with almost 2,000,000 members. The record of Korean church growth was unparalleled in any other part of the globe. The growth from a tiny persecuted minority to an almost certain majority of the population is a quantum leap that can only be explained in spiritual and supernatural terms. The pentecostals and charismatics, with their gifts and zeal have led the way in Korea as they have in many other parts of the world.

The bible that missionary Robert Thomas brought to Korea was paid for by church people in Ireland. That bible was a seed that started a change that impacted a whole nation. What you do for God in giving, praying and going to the mission field is a seed that will have multiplied effective results over the years to come.

In last year’s giving, we set a goal to raise $60,000 and received pledges for approximately $70,000. Of this amount $45,000 has been received. The reasons for this shortfall are not clear, but what is more important moving forward is that all last year’s giving is completed. If you have not completed your pledge, that amount is forgiven. A new season of giving is now about to begin. This year let’s set a more achievable goal and seek to raise $40,000 for the year to be divided evenly over the four projects.

This giving represents a little over 10% of our total income and all of this will go outside our own local church to the work of God further afield. The work of Youth Young Adults and Community Kitchen will all continue through 2015, but will be funded out of our tithes and offerings income.

Here’s how to give.

This giving is over and above your normal tithes and offerings. That finance provides for the church to function with wages, rent, electricity, catering, travel, and many other things. This giving is a faith pledge. It’s partnering with God to believe that He will show you an amount to give. You will be in faith that God will provide for you over and above your normal income in unexpected ways. It could a pay rise or a gift you receive, starting a small business or any number of unusual circumstances that will enable you to give what you pledged and at the end of the year you are better off than when you started.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. In world wide terms where would Australians rank in the world’s richest to poorest people groups?

2. Does your eternal perspective change the way you value money and people?

3. How does it feel to give and make a difference with your giving?

4. Is it about how much you give or is it about listening to God and obeying what He has asked you to do ?

5. How can we hear God’s voice in the task of giving?

 

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LOVE INVESTS  #1 AMLove Invests Combined

THE MISSION FIELD CALLS

This month our theme is LOVE INVESTS. The scriptures teach us the value of considering the future generations: Prov 13:22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (NIV) Love thinks not only about the present needs but lays up in store for the future so that those following may have their needs met. Love makes provision for the future so that those you love, who come after you, will be blessed with all that God can provide for them. Love shows wisdom in not only leaving a financial blessing but providing it in a way that is most beneficial to the receivers; such as an inheritance kept until you are 18.

As Christians we are concerned not only about the material provision for future generations but about the spiritual provision also. Love sees far into the future and looks longingly for the next generation to know Jesus Christ and sees the families, cities and nations turning to God. Love invests financially for kingdom purpose into the future. That is why in this church we gather together, then we dream a dream of what the future may hold and sow a seed of finance to make the future better for others. We call this Kingdom Advance.

This year our Kingdom Advance dinner will take place on October 24th  at 7pm. You have received an invitation to that dinner today. Our focus of giving this year will be more in terms of missions giving; that means giving to evangelistic work in places outside our own local area. Our goal this coming year will be to support Destiny Rescue, Pastor Fakhry Hanna in Egypt, The INC South Pacific islands and our Church planting in Victoria.

Today I want to share with you the amazing stories of how people invested their lives in the mission field so that others future could be different.

Our first missionary is William Carey a missionary to India. Born in 1761, William Carey became a missionary to India arriving in 1793. It was extremely hard to get to India in that time because the church in England could not believe that Indian people could be saved. Carey had to work hard to convince the leadership of the church in England that Christians were called to preach the gospel in every nation and that meant going there. [a]

During the first year in Calcutta, the missionaries sought means to support themselves and a place to establish their mission. They also began to learn the Bengali language to communicate with others. At Midnapore during the first six years Carey managed an indigo plant, he completed the first revision of his Bengali New Testament and began formulating the principles upon which his missionary community would be formed, including communal living, financial self-reliance, and the training of indigenous ministers. His son Peter died of dysentery, which, along with other causes of stress, resulted in Dorothy suffering a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. Due to her debilitating mental breakdown, she had long since ceased to be an able member of the mission, and her condition was an additional burden to it. John Marshman wrote how Carey worked away on his studies and translations, “…while an insane wife, frequently wrought up to a state of most distressing excitement, was in the next room…”. She died in 1807.

After learning the language Carey began preaching gospel messages to the Indian people five nights a week. It was years until the first convert was made. Carey faced setback after setback with his workplace being swept away in flood waters more than once. An Indian Christian who helped Carey translate the bible into Sanskrit after 7 years serving with Carey backslid. On 11 March 1812, a fire in the print shop caused £10,000 in damages and lost work. Amongst the losses were many irreplaceable manuscripts, including much of Carey’s translation of Sanskrit literature and a polyglot dictionary of Sanskrit and related languages, which would have been a seminal philological work had it been completed. However, the press itself and the punches were saved, and the mission was able to continue printing in six months. In Carey’s lifetime, the mission printed and distributed the Bible in whole or part in 44 languages and dialects.

After the loss of his wife and young son and backsliding of his only Indian Christian helper, one might expect that Carey could have packed up and gone home to recuperate. However a letter he penned to supporters at home during those darkest hours stated: “Though my disappointments may yet be 1000 times greater; yet I have this hope – the goodness and the faithfulness of God.” What drives a man to so surrender his life for others in the face of monumental difficulties – LOVE INVESTS. The outcome of Carey’s life was nothing short of amazing. He is known as the father of modern missions. Carey’s chief work of life was to make translation of the Scriptures and it was his joy before the close of life to see “more than 213,000 volumes of the Divine Word, in forty different languages, issue from the Serampore press.” But this was but a part of his life work.

Our next missionary was an Australian named Stanley Dale

Stanley Dale was a Australian that first visited New Guinea [b] while in the army during WWII. It was then that he first saw the high mountain ranges of the interior and set his mind that someday he would return to bring the message of God’s love to the people who lived in those remote areas. After the war he completed his Bible education, got married and began his training for his goal of reaching the unknown tribes in the highlands. He was refused by a number of missionary societies but finally was accepted to go to New Guinea. From 1947 to 1960 he worked with tribes in the lowlands. Finally in 1961 he & Bruno Leeuw made their trek into the Heluk Valley and made contact with the Yali tribe.

Stan Dale believed that even the most violent Yali cannibal had a soul worth saving because it was made in the image of God.

As the gospel was blossoming in the upper end of the valley, those in the lower end of the valley were still in darkness. Two of the young Yali Christians, Kekwara & Bengwok, went down the valley and were attacked while preaching. Neither returned. At the news of their deaths, Stan Dale went to the villages himself, and there suffered 5 arrow wounds. He was helped back to camp, then flown a mission hospital. It would be a week before they knew that Stan would survive the injuries. Two months later,

Stan Dale returned to his work among the Yali.

He was determined that the work of God must continue.

He strengthened the church in the upper Heluk valley and the new believers spread the gospel east into the next valley where it was warmly received. This angered the shamans in the lower valley and to the west and they made threats against Stan Dale should he enter their area again. After two years the burden for the salvation people in the lower valley prompted Stan Dale to try once again to reach them. On Wednesday, September 18, 1968, Stan Dale, Phil Masters and four tribal helpers began their trek into the Seng Valley. They were greeted by armed warriors when they reached the first village. The immediate crises was avoided and the next day they decided to return, but already the neighboring villages had been told and their warriors had agreed that these bearers of a strange religion would have to be killed.

The warriors were following them. Stan was at the rear. He stopped and faced them. Stan called to his Yali friend, Yemu, “Leave me,” and he raised his staff, not in anger, but as a barrier to the advancing tide of warriors. A priest of Kembu (the demonic religion) named Bereway slipped around behind Stan and at point blank range shot an arrow in under his upraised right arm. Another priest, Bunu, shot a bamboo bladed shaft into Stan’s back, just below his right shoulder.

Yemu was crying now and shouting at them to stop. As the arrows entered Stan’s flesh, he pulled them out, one by one, broke them and cast them away. Dozens of arrows were coming at him from all directions. He kept pulling them out, breaking them and dropping them at his feet until he could not keep ahead of them. Nalimo, the village chief, reached the scene after some 30 arrows had found their mark in Stan’s body.

“How can he stand there so long?” Nalimo gasped. “Why doesn’t he fall? Any one of us would have fallen long ago!” A different kind of shaft
pierced Nalimo’s own flesh – fear! “Perhaps he is immortal!” Nalimo’s normally impassive face melted with sudden emotion. Because of that emotion, Nalimo said latter, he did not shoot an arrow into Stan’s body. Stan faced his enemies, steady and unwavering except for the jolt of each new strike. Yemu ran to where Phil stood alone. Together they watched in anguish at Stan’s agony. As some 50 or more warriors detached from the main force and came toward them, Phil pushed Yemu behind him and gestured speechlessly, run! Phil seemed hardly to notice the warriors encircling him. His eyes were fixed upon Stan.

Fifty arrows – sixty! Red ribbons of blood trailed from the many wounds, but still Stan stood his ground. Nalimo saw that he was not alone in his fear. The attack had begun with hilarity, but now the warriors shot their arrows with desperation bordering on panic because Stan refused to fall. “Perhaps Kusaho was right!” Perhaps they were committing a monstrous crime against the supernatural world instead of defending it, as they intended. “Fall!: they screamed at Stan. “Die!” It was almost a plea – please die!

Yemu did not hear Phil say anything to the warriors as they aimed their arrows at him. Phil made no attempt to flee or struggle. He had faced danger many times but never certain death. But Stan had shown him how to face it, if he needed an example. That example could hardly have been followed with greater courage. One again, it was Bereway who shot the first arrow. And it took almost as many arrows to down Phil as it had Stan. Yemu and the 3 other helpers stayed only until they knew that Phil could not survive, then they turned and ran for their lives. One thought burned in Yemu’s mind, “if they kill us too, there’ll be no one left to tell their widows what happened, or where they fell.” Yemu did make it back safely to tell what happened.

Only a year later these same people were reached with the gospel of Christ  by missionaries that replaced Stan Dale and Phil Masters.

What enabled men like Stan Dale, Phil Masters and the two Yali Christians,

Kekwara & Bengwok, to risk and lose their lives in trying to take the gospel to a violent and hostile people? How were and are so many others able to spend their lives in similar tasks, forsaking the comforts of their homes to go live in foreign places with foreign people in a foreign culture?

LOVE INVESTS – Making a difference to the future of people who one day will come to know Christ.

One of the last communications received by the home office from Stanley Dale carried this significant comment—“I have a burden for these places where the way is hard. Please continue to pray for the people of the Holuk that they may break free from their fetishes and declare themselves wholly on the Lord’s side. Please continue to remember us in prayer, for we still carry some heavy burdens that are not burdens of work.”[c]

Stanley Dale had long ago determined to spread the gospel to unreached peoples, even at the expense of his own life. Because of their deep love for Jesus, Stan and Phil had a passionate desire to make Him known to all people—especially those Yali living in spiritual darkness in the Seng Valley.[d]

In the next few weeks I will be sharing how the Lord has used me to reach people in China, the Ukraine and the Pacific over the last 30 years. We have missionaries right here in this church. I want to introduce one of them to you today It’s Betsey Rasia who has a passion for her high school.

I hope that we as a local church continue to develop a deep passion for lost people the world over and that we are prepared to sacrifice our pleasures and comforts so that others may live. I hope you can come to the dinner on the 24th October and join Chris and me in pledging finances to INVEST in the lives of others.

Last year we saw about $70,000 pledged into Kingdom Advance. So far about $38,000 has been received. More finance may come through this month until the dinner when we begin a new year of fund raising. This shortfall has led me to make a much smaller goal for the coming year. I am setting a target of $40,000 which will represent about 10% of our total church income and distribute it equally among four missions projects. Destiny Rescue, Egypt, Solomon Islands and Church planting in Victoria.

If you have not completed your pledge by the time of the dinner please consider the pledge forgiven and begin anew with faith and with a more realistic pledge for the coming year. The finance we give to Kingdom Advance is not our tithe which God says comes into the storehouse to make sure there is provision in this house. Kingdom Advance giving is an offering over and above your tithe for the work of missions. Will you join with me giving so that others may live? Will you believe and trust God to provide abundantly for you over and above your normal income to allow you to give?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1.  Perhaps not everyone is called ti new Guinea or India, but where are you called to?

2. The sacrifices made by these heroic missionaries inspire us, what does it make you feel?

3. Are there sacrifices you can make so that others may live?

4. Is the life of Stanley Dales given only to reach the tribes of New Guinea or was it given in order that other Christians may be inspired to give their all for Christ?

5. What is your part in the great commission to reach lost people?

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LOVE OF THE FATHER #2AMLove of the Father Individual

You have a father in heaven.

No matter how big and strong you are, there’s many times in your life when you need the resources of one who loves you totally, continuously and in spite of your mistakes. Last week we shared the story of the prodigal son. In today’s message I want to show you what the Father gave the son on his return.

Luke 15:22

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

The robe

Picture the son returning home. He is ashamed, filthy and smelly. He has old and dirty clothes. After the Father embraces him he calls for the best or finest robe to be placed upon him. Imagine what this says to the son! What belongs to the Father is freely given to the son. This robe covers over the old and smelly clothes. This robe speaks of what is the best and finest of what the father has; the richness of his provision. When we want to know what meaning is carried in a term such as this we need only look at what God says about the robe in other places in the scripture. For example the righteousness of Christ which is often compared to a robe, or garment, Isaiah 61:10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.(NLT) and Rev 19:8 She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).(AMP)

The robe clothes over whatever clothing lies under it; whatever dirt or smell may lie beneath, and having then an outward appearance of cleanliness, wealth and position as befitting the Father. In the same manner the robe of righteousness covers over all our past and God looks upon us as His son or daughter who belong to Him and live within His family. All He sees when He looks at us is this robe of righteousness and our past is completely covered and is no longer viewed by our heavenly Father. This is the love of the Father.

Application: Does your past haunt you? Does the past speak to you about your unworthiness? Religion tells us we need to earn God’s love. This only brings bondage. Throw off your past. You are redeemed and set free by God’s love. You past has been forgotten and you are a new creation in God’s sight.

Example: Paul started his ministry life by killing Christians. If anyone has a past hat they regretted it was Paul. He counted himself as the “Chiefest of sinners” yet Paul found complete restoration in Christ seeing himself as a new creation in Christ.

The ring

This prodigal lad only wanted to be placed in the position of a slave, but his father said, ‘Put a ring on his finger.’ The ring is an emblem of wealth, position, honour. It is a sign of delegated authority and of representative character; as when Joseph was exalted to be the second man in Egypt, and Pharaoh’s signet ring was plucked off and placed upon his finger. When the son received this ring, no doubt he felt it was undeserved. He would have preferred a probation period where he could prove himself and show his father that he was truly sorry and a changed man – but that’s religion! The father welcomes back the son and immediately gives him the same equal authority he had before as a son of the father, a man of authority, one who represented all that the father was. The immediacy of this gift shows that the restoration was a matter of relationship not works.

Application: Maybe others can point the finger and say you don’t represent the Father after all you’ve done, but let the Father determine that. He gave you the ring of authority. You have His authority over all the power of the enemy. It’s not determined by you own achievements but by the Father’s conferral of his own authority upon you.

Example: When Pharaoh placed his ring on Joseph’s finger, Joseph became prime minister of Egypt. No one questioned his past coming from gaol. He carried Pharaoh’s power and authority and was unquestionably standing in his place.

The Sandals

The servants walked barefoot in their service and this prodigal son came home barefoot, not only because he intended to become as one of my father’s hired servants, but also he had suffered the loss of all his money and had nothing to eat and certainly nothing of finery to wear. In all the metaphors of footwear, we can see the meaning of our walk with God and our ongoing preparation to walk out the life before us, an equipping for the journey of life. But this gift of sandals is primarily another picture of a return to sonship and not servanthood. The father provides for the Son the sandals that mark the apparel of a son. This provision the Father gives freely and generously is the provision our loving heavenly Father has provided for us. Provision that removes us from poverty, and provision that befits the son of a wealthy Father.

Application: Now you have God’s provision. All that he has is yours. He will provide for you as befitting a son, not a servant. It’s now time to believe for God’s abundant provision in your life.

Example: When Jesus finished using the disciple’s boat to preach a message from, He said now push out and let down your nets for a catch. It seemed like a crazy idea as they had tried to fish all night and caught nothing. However on obeying his word they caught a massive haul and their boats were sinking under the weight of their catch. What a great provision.

The Fatted Calf

The fatted calf is the centre of celebration. It’s the centre point of feasting that shows the pinnacle of joy, celebration and love. When you have received the best news you could ever receive, you call all your family together and you feast. The usual word for “kill” in the NT is the Greek word apokteino. However, the word used for “kill” used of killing the fatted calf is thuo. This word means “to sacrifice”. This word was used of sacrificing the Passover lamb. The fatted calf is referred to not a fatted calf, there was just one, in the same way Jesus was the Father’s only sacrifice for sin. The robe, ring and sandals were paid for by the sacrifice of the fatted calf. Sin wasn’t forgotten or ignored, it was paid for by the offering of a sacrifice pleasing and acceptable to God. And who paid for it? The Father! This is the love of the father.

Application: Celebrate your new life with God. Rejoice that your name is written down the book of life. Where better to celebrate but in church. Recognise all that has been given to you and live a new life of joy and thankfulness.

Example: The disciples rejoiced that people were healed when they prayed for them and that devils were cast out. Jesus encouraged them to rejoice in that but even more to rejoice that their names were written down in the book of life.

Now imagine a scene where a brother or sister has sinned against you and hurt you deeply. Later they come to you and ask forgiveness for what they have done. What’s your reaction? Most likely you receive them with joy, if you’re a mature Christian! You accept them and you rejoice in the restored relationship. But do you go the extra mile and kill the fatted calf? Do you spend money to celebrate and give gifts to the brother or sister who once offended you? Now think about this love of the Father. How generous and how complete is His gift of restoration and acceptance?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Have you felt the Father’s embrace?

2. What thoughts go through your mind that stop you from receiving or enjoying God’s love and acceptance?

3. Can you imagine yourself clothed with a robe God gave you? How do you feel?

4. Think about having his authority as conveyed by the ring. What will you do now?

5. How can you enjoy and celebrate your salvation at this feasting time with the fatted calf?

 

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LOVE OF THE FATHER   #1 AMLove of the Father Individual

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

STORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to this passage, Gen 3:22-24

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

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

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

Will you begin the journey today?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

 

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LOVE PRAYS #5   –  AM ServiceLove Prays Combined

…AND LOVING IT!   –   THIS MESSAGE IS TO ASSIST YOU TO BE INSPIRED TO PRAY AND TO ENJOY IT.

RELATIONSHIP

In a practical sense, prayer is talking to God, but of course it’s so much more than that. Prayer is an indicator of your relationship with God. Little prayer, little relationship; deep prayer, deep relationship.

The foundation of how we all live our lives as Christians is given by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount. Matt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NLT) Seeking His kingdom first must begin by meeting with God in prayer and listening.

How can you get inspired to pray? (Read these prayer quotes http://www.christian-prayer-quotes.christian-attorney.net/ )

Here’s some heavy Duty Prayer quotes…

  1. “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” Martin Luther.
  2. “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.” Brother Lawrence
  3. When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller’s reply was, “Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming.” Source Unknown.
  4. “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick
  5. “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” Charles Spurgeon
  6. “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Andrew Murray
  7. “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)
  8. “One day George Mueller began praying for five of his friends. After many months, one of them came to the Lord. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up hoping that he would accept Christ! His faith was rewarded, for soon after Mueller’s funeral the last one was saved.”

 

  1. On persevering prayer: “I look at a stone cutter hammering away at a rock a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow it splits in two. I know it was not the one blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

When I was a younger Christian I recognised I needed some inspiration to pray. I saw a TV program about marathon runners that interviewed two of the greatest marathoners of all time; Robert De Castella and Alberto Salazar. They interviewed Robert, an Australian, and asked how often do you train? He replied that he rose every morning to run 10kms and each afternoon another 16kms. “Don’t you ever feel like sleeping in?” they asked. “Yes,” he replied, “but that’s the time I know I must rise and begin to run or I will never have that gold medal to hang around my neck.” Robert had one sleep in per year – Christmas Day!  I thought, if he can do that for a lousy Gold medal, then I can do that for the eternal value of winning lost souls! Paul shares this same idea in 1 Cor 9:24-27 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.(NLT)

INTERACTION: ASK YOUR PARTNER – DO YOU EVER FEEL INSPIRED TO PRAY? ONE MINUTE EACH, THEN BACK TO THE MESSAGE.

HOW TO PRAY

Using the “Lord’s Prayer” as a guide to pray is helpful.

PRAYER GUIDE The Lord’s Prayer Outline from Dr. Larry Lea’s “Could you not tarry?”

http://larrylea.webs.com/LordsPrayerOutline.pdf  from Matt 6:9-13

  1. OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN
  2. Picture Calvary and thank God that you can call Him “Father” by virtue of the blood of Jesus.
  3. HALLOWED BE THY NAME
  4. Praise God for Who He is and for what He has done for us.
  5. Hallow the names of God corresponding to the ­positive benefi­ts in the new covenant.
  6. THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, (It’s a commanding statement) Pray for:
  7. Yourself and your family (mate, children, other family members).
  8. Your church (pastor, leadership, faithfulness of people, harvest of souls).
  9. Your nation (city, state and national political and spiritual leaders, harvest of souls).
  10. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).
  11. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
  12. Be in the will of God (prayer life, church, work habits, obedience in giving).
  13. Believe it is God’s will to prosper you.
  14. Be specific and tenacious.
  15. AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS
  16. Ask God to forgive you.
  17. Forgive and release others – set your will to forgive those who sin against you.
  18. AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL
  19. Put on the whole armour of God (Put on the Lord Jesus Christ – Ephesians 6:10-18)
  20. Loins girded about with TRUTH
  21. Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS
  22. Feet shod with the PREPARATION (READINESS) OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
  23. Shield of FAITH
  24. Helmet of SALVATION
  25. Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD
  26. Pray a hedge of protection around yourself and your family.

(The Lord is your refuge, your fortress, your God – Psalm 91:2)

  1. Because you have made the Lord your habitation
  2. Because you have set your love upon Him
  3. Because you have known His name
  4. FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER
  5. Make faith declarations, be bold in faith – God hears and answers prayer ( John 5:14-15).
  6. Return to praise.

 

BIBLE READING PLAN

It’s essential that every Christian has access to the word of God. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. – Matt 4:4.

Please convince yourself of the importance of reading God’s word at this webpage.. http://pvcoc.org.au/bible_reading_plan.php

PRAY READING THE BIBLE

Almost any verse can turn into a prayer. Let’s go to the psalms and I will show you how to pray read the bible.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.

He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

Now pray the words like this….

1 Thank you Jesus that you are my Shepherd you feed me, you guide me, and you shield me], I shall not lack.

2 Lord you make me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; you lead me beside the still and restful waters.

3 Lord you refresh and restore my life (my self); You lead me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.

4 Yes Lord Jesus, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

Try Ephesians 1:4

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.(AMP)

Could be prayed like this..

In your love God you chose me [actually picked me out for Himself as your own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, through Jesus now I am becoming holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.

INTERACTION: ASK YOUR PARTNER – WHAT WOULD HELP YOU TO BE MORE FOCUSSED TO READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY? ONE MINUTE EACH, THEN BACK TO THE MESSAGE.

JOURNALING – SOAP

Journaling is a very powerful way of connecting with God. Simply put, journaling is writing down prayer points and answers you receive. How to get started… Obtain a prayer journal notebook or use an app on your phone to record a journal entry every day (Try Pages, Notes, on iPhone or One Note on Android)

Use the SOAP Format.

S- Scripture – Write out in full one or a few verses.

O – Observation – What is this verse or passage saying to you? What is the main point of the scripture?

A – Application – How can I apply that verse and the truth of that verse to my life?

P – Prayer – Write out a prayer hat you now pray to ask God to help you apply that verse to your life.

WORSHIP

Get hold of some great Christian music and listen and sing along and love Jesus with all your heart.

RESPONSE

One of the most important prayers you will ever pray is, “Lord Jesus, forgive my sins and come into my life. I believe you died for me and I believe you rose again from the dead for me.” If you have never prayed that prayer before, will you pray it right now?

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LOVE PRAYS #2PMLove Prays Combined

YOU HAVE ENORMOUS POWER

STORY – Read Josh 10: 6-15

Joshua 10:6-15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, Do not relax your hand from your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.

So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the warriors with him and all the mighty men of valor.

And the Lord said to Joshua, Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hand; there shall not a man of them stand before you.

So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having gone up from Gilgal all night.

10 And the Lord caused [the enemies] to panic before Israel, who slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon and chased them along the way that goes up to Beth-horon and smote them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.

11 As they fled before Israel, while they were descending [the pass] to Beth-horon, the Lord cast great stones from the heavens on them as far as Azekah, killing them. More died because of the hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword.

12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, be silent and stand still at Gibeon, and you, moon, in the Valley of Ajalon!

13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance upon their enemies. Is not this written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of the heavens and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

14 There was no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man. For the Lord fought for Israel.

15 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

 

Joshua represents the new generation. He is a man who has been prepared for leading under the leadership of Moses. Now his turn to walk the stage of life has come. Joshua is about 80, yet he has the stamina of any young man.

After the children of Israel cross the Jordan and conquer Jericho, they falter briefly at Ai then keep going. One city decides to surrender to Israel instead of being killed. Gibeon and its King make peace with Israel and say we will become your servants. They would rather be living servants than dead heroes!

But the surrounding kings are outraged that Gibeon would surrender and five kings and their armies decide to go up and wipe out Gibeon, just to teach them a lesson. So the Gibeonites call out to Joshua and say, help us!

Joshua immediately gathers his army and leaves where they are. Straight away Joshua hears from God.

 Lesson 1. Be about God’s business and you’re going to hear from Him in prayer. God is wanting to encourage you that He is with you. Over and over again in the bible God is committing to us that He is with us, and this is because we are about his business.

The Gibeonites go up to Joshua on day one to tell him they are about to be attacked and Joshua travels all night from that time to arrive early the next morning to attack the five kings with their armies.

He fights all day against them, and God is with him to overcome so much that God sends hailstones down to kill the enemy and the hailstones wipe out more than the sword. The miracle here is that the hailstones don’t fall on the Israelite army!

Lesson 2 What God is doing for you behind the scenes will ensure your victory, so don’t sweat the dark clouds with hail because God’s got something powerful in mind.

Joshua realises that he is not going to have enough time to overcome all the enemies in the day before the sun goes down, so he prays the boldest prayer ever prayed on earth. Sun stand still! And God answers him with a massive miracle.

Lesson 3 Never underestimate the power you have in prayer.

You may easily say – Yes but that’s Joshua. I’m me and that’s different! However God is looking for great men and women of God to rise up and have faith. God is no respecter of persons; that means He has no favourites. We let ourselves off the hook too easily, by saying; I can’t do that and self-disqualify. But God’s word clearly says to all believers. Mark 11:23  Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.

Joshua has been awake all of day one, then travels through the night to attack the kings at dawn. Then he fights that day; so that’s 30 hours so far that Joshua and his men have been awake until about midday (Sun was stayed in the midst of the heavens). So now he asks for another day (12 hours) of sunshine so at the end of the battle Joshua and his men have been sustained approximately 42 hours.

Lesson 4 when God is moving don’t slack off in prayer. Keep going until the victory is complete.

At the close of the story we see Joshua bring all his top leaders together and place their foot on the necks of these defeated kings. What was that all about? The power of visualisation. The next 100 battles for these leaders was going to be fought out with the image firmly planted in their minds – this is how it turns out for me when God is on my side.

Lesson 5 Use your imagination to see the outcome you want in prayer. Prayer and walking with the Holy Spirit uses the language of dreams and visions.

Prayer changes things and you need to know that you have massive power in prayer when you believe. Learn to wage war in the spiritual realm by understanding your authority over all the power of the enemy.

Ephes 6:12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

Luke 10:19 Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

Prayer is not a function of time but it is a function of authority. The factor of time comes into play when we need to spend time with God and His word so that we receive faith building revelation about who we are and what he has promised. We have a big job on our hands to reach the lost people of our city. It’s vital that we have faith and stand in our authority and pray so that the enemy’s power is broken and the Grace of God is released to touch the multitudes in this city.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. How often do we think that our prayers won’t really change things?

2. If that is the case who benefits from that kind of thinking?

3. Do we often search for physical and emotional proofs of the prayers being answered?

4. What things would encourage you to continue in prayer until an answer comes?

5. Would it encourage you to hear of prayers being answered for those in your circle of friends?

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LOVE REACHES OUT  #4AMLove Reaches Out 3 Screen

JOIN THE TEAM TO LOVE AND SERVE

Please follow our notes on the blog site or find it through the church facebook page.

Today we have seen an incredible promotion from the Gideons about reaching Melbourne. I know this church will be right in there supporting this call as we have exactly the same vision. To see as many Melbournites as possible experience the love of Jesus Christ. Here’s the vision statement of our church denomination or movement:  To Give every Aussie the chance to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The other take home message of this Gideon presentation is the power of reading the bible. In this church we encourage each believer to read the word of God regularly. To understand the power in this see our website at this address. It’s important to understand that we have a great confidence that the bible is God’s word and is divinely inspired and infallible cover to cover. This can be demonstrated clearly with real evidence both scientific and literary. For more information on this please check out these specific messages on our church podcast at this link.

This year we are sharing the message of LOVE across the whole year. This month our theme is Love Reaches Out. We have heard the message in week one about the reality of heaven and hell and the incredible importance of sharing our faith with others. In week two, Rhys spoke of how in this world many people have an obsession with a celebrity and they know everything about them, want to look like them and be near them. He pointed out that as real authentic Christians we are to be obsessed with Jesus and experience the same level of life changing impact. In week three we spoke about how to actually share your faith effectively, and what is the gospel message essentially.

The main message today is that reaching people with God’s love is best done in a team work approach. Let’s look at how Jesus made an impact in peoples’ lives.

Luke 9:11-17 11 But when the crowds learned of it, [they] followed Him; and He welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed restoration to health.

12 Now the day began to decline, and the Twelve came and said to Him, Dismiss the crowds and send them away, so that they may go to the neighbouring hamlets and villages and the surrounding country and find lodging and get a [b]supply of provisions, for we are here in an uninhabited (barren, solitary) place.

13 But He said to them, You [yourselves] give them [food] to eat. They said, We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all this crowd,

14 For there were about 5,000 men. And [Jesus] said to His disciples, Have them [sit down] reclining in table groups (companies) of about fifty each.

15 And they did so, and made them all recline.

16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven and [praising God] gave thanks and asked Him to bless them [to their use]. Then He broke them and gave them to the disciples to place before the multitude.

17 And all the people ate and were satisfied. And they gathered up what remained over—twelve [[c]small hand] baskets of broken pieces.(AMP)

This was teamwork in action. We see that pretty much everywhere Jesus went He healed people and he also performed miracles of provision – feeding the 5000, as well as raising people from the dead. His approach to help people understand the message of the gospel, that God loved them and that they needed to be forgiven and know God, was to awaken them through the meeting of their needs. The reaction of people was huge! Mark 7:37 37 And they were overwhelmingly astonished, saying, He has done everything excellently (commendably and nobly)! He even makes the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak!(AMP)  By meeting their needs supernaturally, people who were open to God, would seek further understanding and begin to listen to Jesus as He preached the good news of the kingdom. If people were not open to God they were often offended by the miracles and became aggressive towards Him.

The same is true today. As we seek to reach people with the message of God’s love we can pray for people’s needs, be it healing or financial breakthrough or restoration of marriages or anything that concerns them. To a great extent the level of miracles we see is less than what Jesus experienced and this is due to a high level of unbelief in this nation; where people can scarcely believe that God exists let alone that He would heal them. This is not the case in many nations where ordinary believers like you and me can travel and see amazing miracles and healings right in front of our eyes.

MY UKRAINE STORY

In 1991-1993 I led three large teams into the Ukraine to do missions work. This took place immediately after the failed coup and the fall of the iron curtain. We preached on the streets with interpreters and saw hundreds of people receive Jesus Christ as their saviour and as we prayed for healing amazing miracles took place right out there in the street. This was team work in action. Some preached, some prayed, some played guitars, some shared their faith one on one with interpreters, and some translated our songs into Russian. Together we loved and served the Ukrainian people.

THE STORY OF RED FROGS

This video shares some of the story of what Red Frogs is all about. Red Frogs is a ministry of Christian young people who go to the schoolies week at 14 locations around Australia and look after tens of thousands of young school leavers who are living it up and making crazy life endangering decisions in an alcohol fuelled party at the end of their school life. The Red Frogs Crew help serve and love them to keep them safe and guide them to better decisions. This teamwork of loving and serving these young people gives them the perfect platform to share the real meaning of life as those who are open ask the red frogs team why they do what they do. Later these same Christian leaders go into the universities and serve at O week where again the alcohol culture is over the top. The Red Frogs teams keep working through the year loving and serving these future leaders of Australia (and indeed the world) and many of them end up in church because they see the love and the quality lives of the Red Froggers.

Why is the ministry of Red Frogs so successful? Here’s why…

  1. It’s focussed on a need
  2. There’s an expression of love through serving.
  3. There’s a team work approach.

In Plenty Valley Church, we use this same team work approach to love and serve people in order to gain trust and show them the love in action that stems from Jesus Christ. We do this through…

  1. Urban Connect Groups – loving and serving people in need
  2. Youth Foundation – loving and serving High schoolers
  3. Community Kitchen – loving and serving disabled, lonely, struggling and financially challenged people.
  4. The Autism Support Group – loving and serving families struggling with special needs kids.

I hope that soon we can begin a new team of passionate believers to start what’s called a Messy Church. Messy Church is a once a month church service on a Saturday afternoon that caters for young families with kids where the kids and their parents get involved in games, craft, art and singing as well as hear a message and share a meal while being all together. We will need about 7-8 new leaders to assist us to run this new outreach. If you’re interested please see one of the ministry team later.

So to summarise this month.

Every person who does not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour is lost and we care deeply that they are not going to heaven. We will do all in our power to love them and serve them and so gain their trust and share with them the good news that Jesus died for them.

  1. We can share with others through personal sharing of our faith,
  2. We can invite people to church or Urban Connect groups or youth etc.
  3. We can be part of a team that loves and serves those in need just as Jesus did to find those open to the message of the gospel so that they might be saved.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Discuss the benefits of completing a task in a team environment.

2. What are the gifts you bring to the team – what are you good at?

3. Who is the best one in your team at sharing the gospel message? Who is the best host? the best practical helps person etc?

4. Who is your team (Urban Connect group) going to reach out to? Can you identify someone in need?

5. When will you plan ways to love and serve them in Jesus name?

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