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HEROES OF FAITH #3AM        FAITH TO STAND ALONE Heroes of Faith Middle

 

 

The former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott in his resignation speech this week mentioned the first sermon ever preached in Australia and repeated the words of the sermon asking, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?” which comes from Ps 116:12. This first sermon was preached by Chaplain Richard Johnson, an Anglican minister, who arrived with the first fleet in 1788 and is our contemporary hero for today.

Richard Johnson, was no ordinary Anglican minister who officiated at births deaths and marriages. He was a passionate man of the gospel. He had a huge passion to see people born again and lived and exemplary live as a strong Christian witness in the early days of the Australian colony. Johnson stood alone because the first governor was ambivalent to his efforts and the second one was downright hostile to them. In the reign of the second governor, Johnson built a church by his own labour to seat 500 attenders because the governor refused any support for the construction. The second governor also restricted church services so that they could only start at 6am in the morning and run for 45 minutes.

In spite of these obstacles, Johnson built a church, started three schools, set up a fund for orphans, visited sick and dying people on the second fleet as it arrived and built meaningful relationships with Aboriginal people. However Johnson was not only a man of strong social welfare, but he preached a strong gospel message and passionately worked for the salvation of people’s souls. In all that we do for people in loving and serving them, if we leave them without the gospel then we have not served them with God’s love. What good is a full stomach if the needy person still faces hell in their latter end? The gospel includes care for the sick, poor and orphaned, but it includes before during and after the care the deep concern for the lost souls that have not eternal hope for their salvation.

Richard Johnson stood alone most of the time. He accomplished great things in the face of strong opposition because he was a man of faith and he lived out of principles not out of comfort.

Sometimes the values we hold put us at odds with those around us. Heroes of the faith make a stand and live out of the conviction they hold in their hearts. They remain true to the calling and the principles that they originally chose and the will not stray from them even if it is not convenient and not easy. As a Christian sometimes you will need to stand alone. God will make sure this happens for each of us. He wants to know where we stand, with Him or with popularity. Jesus words predict this in John 16:33 (AMP)  I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Later He says, John 15:18-19 (AMP) 18 “If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this the world hates you.

So we choose to live out of principles, That is living by faith, obeying God because He is good and we love Him no matter the cost. Perhaps no man lives 100% by principles but if we choose to follow Christ then we must live the life He has called us to live and sometimes that’s lonely.

HEROES OF THE FAITH CAN STAND ALONE

Noah stood alone and obeyed God through difficult circumstances and for a very long time. Gen 6:8-14 AMP 8 But Noah found favour and grace in the eyes of the Lord.

 9 These are the records of the generations (family history) of Noah. Noah was a righteous man [one who was just and had right standing with God], blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked (lived) [in habitual fellowship] with God. 10 Now Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

 11 The [population of the] earth was corrupt [absolutely depraved—spiritually and morally putrid] in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence [desecration, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power]. 12 God looked on the earth and saw how debased and degenerate it was, for all humanity had corrupted their way on the earth and lost their true direction.

 13 God said to Noah, “I intend to make an end of all that lives, for through men the land is filled with violence; and behold, I am about to [d]destroy them together with the land. 14 Make yourself an [e]ark of [f]gopher wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, compartments) and [g]coat it inside and out with pitch (bitumen).

The way man lives without God is always sensual. If a man has no Godly spiritual leadership then he will fall into obedience to the flesh because these are the commanding appetites. Imagine the lifestyle of Noah who is building an escape craft for a disaster that no one has ever seen and cannot imagine. His fellow man is only intent on personal satisfaction and has no care. Yet Noah made a stand. He stood alone and obeyed God when the whole world around him lived on in their sensual lives. He only had his faith in God to give him hope. He had no external evidence of the coming judgement, only the voice of God speaking to him. Noah worked hard. He had no other people part form his family to help and support him. He stood alone because whenever a man takes a stand for righteousness there will be opposition.

HEROES OF THE FAITH CAN STAND ALONE

Have you have opposition in your family? Have you had opposition in the workplace? Has there been times when it would have been easier to say nothing, or to agree with the godless opinion around you. If you stand for righteousness even without speaking about your stand, you will be a standout and people don’t like that. If it looks like by your standard of behaviour that you are appearing more righteous than they are, then look out, there will be attacks. You must decide you will stand for God even if you stand alone.

HEROES OF THE FAITH CAN STAND ALONE

Hearing God’s voice is so important to assist you to take a stand. All through my study into leadership and great men and women who have accomplished significant things for God; the common factor for success is hearing God’s voice. The voice of God comes as a conviction to act and believe in a certain way. God leads us by His spirit but always in line with His written word.

Jesus will be with you all the way, there is great empowerment for those who stand up for God.

Luke 12:8-9 (AMP)

8 “I say to you, whoever declares openly and confesses Me before men [speaking freely of Me as his Lord], the Son of Man also will declare openly and confess him [as one of His own] before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God.

Luke 12:11-12 (AMP)

11 When they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities, do not be worried about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

 The Holy Spirit is speaking all the time. If you are hungry for truth and hungry to serve God, you will hear His voice.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Peer pressure is the pressure we feel to conform top the crowd around us. Do you encounter peer pressure?
  2. Describe a time when you felt intimidated by others because of your faith.
  3. Looking back now, would you handle it differently?
  4. Would you make a stand for Jesus even if it cost you a real lot?
  5. How important is it to have the community of faith around you to encourage you in times of intimidation?

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Heroes of Faith Full

HEROES OF THE FAITH #2AM – OVERCOMING THE ODDS

 

 

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

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

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

Listen to this story of heartbreak in the bible:

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

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

Heroes of the faith hang on to God.

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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Heroes of Faith Middle

The theme this month is Heroes of the Faith. We all need heroes. People, both men and women, who inspire us and show us the way so we can be great for God. This world needs you to be a hero to others. Your life is already inspiring and there is room for more. This month we want to inspire you with stories from God’s word and also from contemporary leaders who have overcome obstacles and achieved greatness with their lives so that you can feel that strength on the inside of your heart to rise up and overcome and do great things using your faith. Today being Father’s Day we want to inspire our fathers and celebrate heroes among us.

Everyone has a father, but not everyone has a hero. A hero is someone, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. My Dad was only around for the first seven years of my life. He passed away very young as a result of a heart condition. In terms of being a hero, what I love about my dad is that he was a home handyman type of guy and he had a workshop. When he died it became my workshop! I became a home handyman kind of guy too. My greatest achievement was building our own home in 1989 in Brisbane. Watch this Hero Dad video with me for a moment.

I hope your dad was your hero; but if he wasn’t, I hope you had a hero who inspired you to be great. Today I want to inspire every male in the place to be a hero for their kids and also for someone else’s kids. My youngest son encouraged me recently. He is the assistant pastor at the Liberty INC church in Epping. The church was showing a men’s ministry video called Wild at Heart and lots of men shared about their lives and the things they had to overcome, often because of a father who was absent or violent or abusive. My son said, “I felt I couldn’t relate to these stories because all through my childhood I can’t remember one time of being abused, neglected or being unloved. Thanks for being a good dad to me.” One day someone is going to come to you and say thanks for being my hero. Are you ready to make the changes so that will happen?

You’re a hero when you choose to follow Jesus Christ.

In a day when it’s not cool or popular to follow Jesus (was it ever?) for a man to stand up for Christ and be counted in the face of ridicule, persecution or violence; if you make a stand for Jesus and cheerfully and boldly proclaim your faith, you are an inspiration to many young people. It’s not easy to follow Jesus and seeing you do it with joy and showing how you accept the consequences with courage and expect God to bless you for it is heroic. Talk about the time you had to make your stand and how you felt. Share the story because they will be there too if they haven’t already. There’s a lot to be said for sitting at the dinner table and telling those stories as father or grandfather.

You’re a hero when you love your wife unconditionally.

When you love your wife, you’re showing a great example of love for your kids and for others. It’s seeing the example that teaches the best. In this world there are a lot of messed up people. So often the cause is absent or bad behaving dads. When a messed up person becomes a father themselves, they haven’t got a role model to go by. They don’t know how to love unconditionally or how to parent with courage, and so the cycle begins again and this time it’s compounded. When a man decides to break the mould and act out the values that they didn’t experience – they are a hero. When I marry people as a wedding celebrant, I see the sparkle in their eyes. That passion of love and devotion that makes that day so special. Later it’s tested and the culture of this world says, “It didn’t work, move on, find someone else.” God calls us husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the church. That’s a self-sacrificing love. When you decide you’re not living for yourself but for others and it starts with your wife and kids then you’re showing Christ-like love and kids will the better for it. For every man there are temptations to live for yourself. There’s temptations to be unfaithful, temptations to avoid responsibility, temptations to live selfish. But every time there is someone watching. Someone will be impacted when we behave badly.

You’re a hero when you banish violence from your life.

A real man never commits, condones or remains silent about violence against women. There is so much aggression in our society and some men feel that you’re not a man if you don’t use your fists to make your point.  But real men have self-control, they don’t act out the violence they see in video games and movies, they figured out that world is different from their world. You’re a hero if you show your kids and others that your frustrations and troubles have non violent solutions. If you’re all worked up and have to let off steam – do a hundred push-ups, or go for a run. Take the pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.  Never fall for the new age, pop culture, neo-psychology statement that smacking kids is violence. If you love your kids, then as they are growing up a smack is delivering your child from a future that has a lot more pain than the small smack just delivered. Make sure you never discipline in anger.

You’re a hero when you live and teach servanthood.

The me generation failed. The decade of greed delivered pain. Even the ungodly world system now champions volunteerism, crowd funding and making a difference for others. You’re a hero when you volunteer at church, serve your community, mow your neighbour’s lawn, give generously to others. There’s so many in need in this world and we can live with the attitude that we can life better for others no matter how much we have or what we have been through. The courage that faith adds is powerful. Luke 6:35-36 (MSG) “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

Guys we need you to stand up, be a hero for your kids and for other kids. We need you to live this big life of loving and serving others. It’s not easy, but if you follow Jesus wholeheartedly you can do it with strength and courage. It’s not a weight to say that someone is counting on you – it’s a privilege. Leadership begins with the everyday man like you and me as we make great decisions in each day to follow Jesus; to live without fear. 1 Corinthians 11:1(NLT)  And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Maybe your father was not your hero, but is there something you can thank him for?
  2. If you find it hard to relate to your natural father, does that make it hard to relate to your heavenly father?
  3. If you hold any resentment against your natural father can you make a decision to forgive him?
  4. Do you think of yourself as a hero for others to learn from?
  5. How does your life/behaviour affect others?

 

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NATION CHANGING FAITH #5PM Small Nation Changing

Jeremiah 1:4-10 NLT

4 The Lord gave me this message:

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”  7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”

Jeremiah was about 17 when he was called by God. Imagine if you were Jeremiah.

You believe in God, so who is He to you? Only by revelation does a person come to faith and have a true and clear knowledge of the God who steps out of the pages of the bible and comes to life in your own experience. My experience of God began when I was 20 and invited to witness a church service where supernatural things were spoken of and seen. I experienced the drawing power of God’s spirit leading me to yield my life to Him. Perhaps at that very moment others around me may have decided that God was not real and the call to follow merely a human device of religion. But for me it was irresistible and a revelation of who God is and what He wants for me. If you have only experience, you are an existentialist and you have only a weak and shifting foundation on which to build your life. But if your experience matches the explanation given in the Christian scriptures then your subjective experience is supported and corroborated by the divinely inspired and infallible word of God.

Who is God to you?

  • Is He the God of your parents and you’re here because it’s been part of your practice since you were a child?
  • Is He the stained glass window subject that gives you a certain joy as you look at the beauty of a religious experience?
  • Is He the convenor of the meeting place of people you care to hang out with so that you can find friendship and entertainment?
  • Is He the idea that challenges you to prove He doesn’t exist as you pick holes in the preacher’s rhetoric?
  • Is He the semi-essential back stop prayer answering God who you turn to when things go bad?
  • Is He the wisdom and advice so needed to help you make your own way through life without making too many critical errors?
  • Is He the unfathomable God who calls you out of your own life plan and into His great purpose and your scared spitless about what He is possibly going to ask of you?

If it’s the last one – then you may be called of God. That is, you know you are called by God, while others are yet to receive such a revelation. I believe every Christian is called by God. There is the primary calling to be with Jesus. But there is also the specific calling to serve Him in a unique and purposeful way that’s only for you. Jeremiah was called to obey God and change nations. His only tools were words.

NATIONS CHANGE WHEN PEOPLE OBEY HIS CALL

ASK YOUR NEIGHBOUR – WHO IS GOD TO YOU?

Life sucked for Jeremiah, because some people didn’t like his prophecies, they tied to kill him; he was beaten and placed in stocks; later he was thrown down a well and left to starve until a foreigner rescued him, only to be thrown in prison. Couldn’t he just walk away? Did he have to obey God and suffer so much for it? He tried to walk away.

Jer 1:6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

But God says:  The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.

Jeremiah 20:7-9 7 O Lord, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled.

You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me. 8 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the Lord have made me a household joke. But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name,

his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!

But then Jeremiah admits: Jer 20:11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonour will never be forgotten.

It’s hard to resist God. He will have His way eventually, look at Jonah! But remember the Lord is good and gracious and kind and His rewards are great. He will never overlook the faithful person who serves Him and suffers for it.

What does God want for your life? Are you content to be a spectator, or do you feel the fire like Jeremiah?

WHAT DO CALLED PEOPLE DO? – THEY OBEY GOD!

Here’s what I see for this church. I see a large number of people who can’t get enough of God’s presence. They spend time in His presence listening to and singing along with great worship music. They devour the word of God, reading it, listening to it and memorising it. Everywhere they go they speak about Jesus because they are so thrilled about what He has done for them.

I see teens going into school and being radical for Jesus. They are respectful and honouring towards teachers and principals, but towards students they are like leaders who are afraid of no one. They pray for students and see healings and miracles. People follow them and ask for help. They pull together big numbers of students into lunch time meetings where people sing worship and praise, and gust speakers come and share the gospel. The students are better preachers though, and they carry God’s power on them. The principal and teachers are uncomfortable about all this but it’s impossible to slow down.

I see uni students preaching in the open air in auditoriums and at the refectory. They are bold and outspoken and even as they face opposition their words are filled with wisdom and touch people’s hearts. There are lots of urban connects on campus and in the residential colleges. In every UC group there are healings and miracles. Prayer is answered and people sense the call of God to serve their generation. Church is everywhere these Christians gather, but they come together on Sundays to bring others and worship with anointed worship leaders and hear life changing messages. They know their calling and many will go back to nations where they came from and start churches and experience a move of God.

Called people will serve God as business people who generate finance for Kingdom projects; teachers who train children to fear the Lord and Honour God; media people who will create video and graphics that accurately depict God’s love and His purpose for people, creating TV shows and movies for the public to find truth. I see called people who are lawyers who will become judges who will uphold godly values and defend the innocent and the poor. I see scientists who will discover cures for disease and discover amazing inventions to help people through God giving them revelation about the scientific world. I see called people being nation changing police members, nurses, doctors, politicians, artists, counsellors, finance workers, it people, engineers, and so many other professions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What does it feel like to be called by God?
  2. Do you think being called by God is just for some special Christians?
  3. Can  a person say “No” to God?
  4. If God has called you to do something for Him what should you do next?
  5. What should you do if you don’t feel called by God?

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tag - born for more - portrait - pos_renamed_26541

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

Psalm 47:8 AMP

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

God is the creator and mover of nations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how should we respond?

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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Nation Changing Faith

Here’s a story about Nation Changing Faith.

1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLENTY VALLEY CHURCH VISION – CLEAR PICTURE OF A PREFERRED FUTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil 3:13-15 AMP

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

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

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

What am I doing to press toward the goal?

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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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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Mission Impossible #2amMission Impossible 1

To say that God is a miracle working God is pretty obvious right? After all He created the heavens and the earth. That’s about the biggest miracle of them all. The question that we are most interested in is; will God provide a miracle for me? Our own need of a miracle is maybe a little lower of the scale of impossible compared with creating the heavens and the earth but nevertheless it’s still impossible for us to achieve on our own and so we need God’s help.

I remember the first miracle I ever saw was when as a brand new Christian I was about 20 years of age and while doing my own car repairs I was really frustrated, which happened a lot to me!!! I was fixing my brakes on the car and having taken off a brake line with attached nut I had made the mistake of cross threading the nut and ruining the thread. Thus meant buying a whole new brake line and nut, expensive, hard to find and delaying. So after a few expletives I “told God” to fix it if He was so powerful!! Well He did! And after washing the nut in petrol and looking again there was a fresh new thread on the nut. I was amazed and humbled and quickly apologized to God for my impatient outburst.

Once you have seen a real unexplainable miracle, you’re spoiled for life. You can’t go back to normal living anymore. You are now in the realm of expecting a lifetime of miracles from your amazing heavenly Father. Now I can tell you about lots I miracles that I didn’t receive as well as many that I did receive. The exciting thing is that as with everything in God, there is not secret formula for getting prayer answered, it’s about faith. It’s about getting faith and maintaining faith.

My first big failure in asking for a miracle was as a Youth Pastor in Brisbane, we had planned a massive outdoor concert in the King George square in the middle of Brisbane city one Saturday. It was to be an outdoor concert to use music and testimonies to preach the gospel and see many souls won for Christ. The weather forecast was not good and we started to pray early, a few days out. The more we prayed the more the clouds came and the more the rain set in. On the day “in faith” we even set up all the staging and sound equipment in the rain in expectation of a miracle that the weather would clear and we could miraculously go ahead. It never happened. Right up until the start time it was literally bucketing down rain and we had to dismantle the stage and remove all the equipment in the pouring rain. I was deeply disappointed because we had lost an opportunity to preach to lost people, we had seemingly not received from God a miracle that was obviously in tune with His will and purpose and we had worked hard in the pouring rain in difficult circumstances for no gain. I informed all our youth that we would meet at church that night instead and have the concert there. It’s funny how God has a different idea of what we need and that afternoon despite being deeply disappointed I prepared a new message to preach at the concert that night at church. Some of the singers and people sharing made awkward comments about the disappointing morning we had witnessed; but God had a plan and God really helped me turn it around into a big challenge for our youth people to press into God no matter what the outcome or experience that we faced.

The biggest miracles I have ever seen are salvation miracles, where lives are changed by the grace of God and people’s lives are turned around by God. Some of those miracles are sitting here today. This month our theme is Mission Impossible. It’s a focus on how to receive a miracle from God. To receive a miracle you need miracle faith. It’s having that audacious faith that against all odds you believe that God has a miracle for you. You never stop to think whether you deserve it; you never try and figure out if you have enough faith, you just charge the gates of heaven for a massive miracle that you demand from God!

Here’s a great example of that kind of faith from God’s word. The background of this story is that the people of Israel had crossed over the Jordan River and now are beginning to invade the land of Canaan. They have had one defeat at Ai and many victories like Jericho. The next big city to fall was Gibeon. These mighty warriors knew what was good for them and decided to surrender rather than die and became Israel’s slaves. The surrounding Canaanite kings weren’t very impressed with that and decided to attack Gibeon and teach them a lesson.

Joshua 10:1-15(NLT)

1Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies. 2 He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.

3 So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. 4 “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.” 5 So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.

6 The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”

7 So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. 8 “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

9 Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.

12 On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said,

“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,

and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.

Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!

15 Then Joshua and the Israelite army returned to their camp at Gilgal.

Lessons from Joshua’s miracle.

  1. Joshua was going about the task of completing God’s will and purpose when the need for this miracle arose. He didn’t need a miracle to defend the Gibeonites. He set out to defend them as a natural course of action that continued the Israelite journey to conquer the land of Canaan and take over all the cities. It wasn’t until the middle of the battle that he realized he need more daylight hours to complete the task. Let’s be about God’s business. What has He asked of you? What is your calling and the task He has given you in this vineyard? When you are about the Father’s business there’s a bigger expectation that you can call upon the Father’s resources.
  2. Joshua heard from God straight away. God said “Go up I have given them into your hand.” Hearing from God is so helpful in moving forward. Be in His word and listening in prayer, He will be speaking to you as God is always speaking, we just need to make the time to be still and know that He is God and hear the instructions we need from Him.
  3. Joshua was passionate. He and his army left one afternoon and travelled all night to reach Gibeon and then began the fight. You can be tired but if you have passion then your energy comes and you can do amazing things. You will be amazed at what you can achieve when you have passion. Laziness, apathy and “she’ll be right” attitude will rob you of energy and determination to see great things take place for you and your family.
  4. The first miracle showed God was with them. As they gave chase to the enemy, God rained down hailstones upon them and God killed more of the enemy with hailstones than Joshua did with the sword. When you are believing for a miracle God will show you He is at work around you. Look for the evidences no matter how small that God is working for you. Let an attitude of thankfulness surround your thinking.
  5. You’ve received one miracle keep going and believe for another. The hailstones were a huge miracle for Joshua and a great victory was obtained by them. Joshua could have been content with that and waited until the next day to continue the battle. After all they were already been awake 36 hours in this battle, so a night’s sleep would not have been out of the question. However this is where Joshua shines as a great leader. He lifts his vision for something much greater when any other leader would have settled for less and he asks for the biggest miracle since creation. Moon stand still and Sun stand still. It’s time to stretch that 36 hours into 60 hours for victory! Don’t stop at victory when you’re believing God, you’re on a roll keep on going and ask really big. Ask God for an even bigger miracle, now is the time when your faith is the biggest it has ever been.

What is the miracle you need today? Determine that you are going after it. It may take a moment or it may take a long time. No matter, God delights in showing Himself strong on your behalf. Read this story through and gain encouragement from it. Realise that God is on your side and He will be working for you.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Can anyone in your Urban Connect group share about miracles that have happened to them?

2. What about sharing also about miracles that didn’t happen.

3. What kind of lessons do we learn when the miracles don’t happen?

4. What kind of lessons do we learn when the miracles do happen?

5. List all the miracles needed in your group, write them down, begin to pray and thank God for these miracles. Remember to tell everyone when prayer is answered. tick them off one buy one.

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FAITH SPEAKS  #4AMFaith speaks WEB

Ever felt like you’re surrounded by the enemy? Ever felt like the odds are stacked against you? How do you handle it? Do you throw a tantrum? Do you sulk? Do you go into depression? Do you seek comfort in substances?

  • Maybe your boss just called you into his office and gave you the spiel, “I hate to do this but I have you let you go”
  • Maybe that lump you thought was nothing turns out to be cancer.
  • Maybe you find a packet of Crystal-Meth in your teenager’s bedroom.
  • Or maybe you are hit with the tsunami of negative situations when all three of these type of things hit you at once!

Life overwhelms us all at times. You face big problems or you face a problem for a very long time. King David spoke about these times when he said, “When my heart is overwhelmed, I go to the rock that is higher than I.” If you don’t have Jesus then you go to anywhere you can find comfort, some go to booze, some go to the pokies, some go to porn, some go to medication; but Jesus says, “Come to me, I will give you rest.” He says, “Roll your cares upon Me, for I care for you.

Faith speaks! What comes out of your mouth will help you or hinder you. If you are a person of faith, this is what will happen to you. Bad news arrives. You react as any human would through disbelief, shock, panic, fear and disappointment. Then after a short period of time you get into gear and you say, “God is able! He will help me. I believe that the Lord is on my side!” Your situation will turn around after some time. It may be a short time or a long time. Through the experience you will be a better stronger person.

When you are not a person of faith this is what will happen to you. You get bad news. You react like any other human would through disbelief, shock, panic, fear and disappointment. You then spiral down wards into the blame game, whose fault is this anyway? Or you may throw a tantrum and let anger take over hurting people with your words or fists, or punching walls or other defenceless objects. Then you may seek to justify your problems by giving yourself permission to act outside your own values by gambling, drinking or taking substances. Your end position is less than your starting point.

Bible stories are great. They make for great reading, but also we can learn from them. God placed them in the bible for us. They are true stories and they are written down to help us, to teach us how to live and how God works with people. 1 Corinthians 10:11(AMP)

11 Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period).

Let’s take a look at this great story. 2 Chronicles 20: 1-6; 15-24

2 Chronicles 20:1-6  (NLT)

20 After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.)

3 Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. 4 So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.

5 Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. 6 He prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!

15-24 15 He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.

20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”

22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. 23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.

Think about King Jehoshaphat in this story. He is surrounded! He is hopelessly outnumbered. In verse 3 it says he is terrified! Three armies surround him and his nation of Judah.

It’s not fair!

He has a go at God here. He says in verse 10-11, Hey God you didn’t let us invade these nations when Israel journeyed through their lands, now they have come back to attack us. It’s not fair!! In life we are very often in the situation where it doesn’t seem fair. Strangely it doesn’t seem to make any difference to anyone or anything that we point that out!!

The King’s reaction

The king reacts really well. He goes straight to God in prayer. He says it’s time to fast and seek God. He reminds God of His promises.

The man of God speaks.

In verse 14-15 the prophet stands up to speak. It’s OK he says, God is with us! Don’t be afraid. The battle is the Lord’s. Go down to them. That’s fine for you to say but we could get killed!! How do you react to the words of the man of God?

The King’s reaction again.

King Jehoshaphat bows down, the people fell down and worshipped, the Levites (priesthood) praised the Lord. That’s a faith response. What is your response to the words from the man of God? Don’t go asking the unbelievers for advice. They have no idea how God can work in a situation. They will take you down the pub, that’s no answer.

When the man of God speaks you have a choice. Will you believe? The King gives some great advice. 2 Chron 20:20 (NLT) Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

So here’s the plan, the army marches out and the singers go in the front. Anyone feeling vulnerable? This is what they sang, Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever! That is faith speaking right there! The result was the Lord set ambushments against the three invading armies.

It matters what comes out of your mouth. This is not conventional warfare. Faith speaks! What does faith say?

  1. Thanks God!
  2. God is good!
  3. He is able!

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, what is coming out of your mouth?

We all face tough times, but God is with us and how we respond to troubles will block or enable faith to make a way for God to help us. God reacts to faith, not to complaining. Our task this year is to grow in faith so that means we will need to learn how to respond in faith. That is why we need to learn that FAITH SPEAKS!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Describe the feeling of being overwhelmed.

2. How does God feel when you are overwhelmed?

3. When circumstances are against you what usually come out of your mouth?

4. How does a person of faith respond to troubled times?

5. Do you need to feel faith to start speaking words of faith?

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