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Posts Tagged ‘plenty valley church’

SHARING FAITH #3PM04032011-share-your-faith  – March 15, 2015

One day I came home and across the road from where I live I saw smoke curling up from the roof of the house opposite our place. There were already a few neighbours on the street running around and calling 000 and thinking about what to do next. The house was obviously on fire and everyone wondered what to do next. One guy drove past the house just before I arrived home and saw the smoke and stopped. He banged on the door to see if anyone was home but no one answered. He could have walked away but he peered through the front window and saw a person moving around inside. So he banged harder on the door.

Eventually a young boy came out and this man was able to say “Get out, your house is on fire!” The boy’s grandmother was also in the back of the house. They both got out safely. The boy had been instructed by his parents, “Don’t answer the door if anyone comes.” It was stranger danger fear, but it almost cost two lives!

Did you know that every person you know who hasn’t trusted in Jesus Christ as their saviour is sitting in a smouldering house! They too are in great danger and they need someone to bang on the door with some important news.

Like this boy in the story – they have been given incomplete information. Like the grandmother and boy in this story – they were in danger but didn’t know it.

John 3:36 And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides on him. [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangs over him continually.]

You may ask, “Why is it so critical to share my Christian faith with others? Isn’t faith only a matter of choice? Aren’t there many choices of what to believe?”

The verse above gives no alternative. One must believe in Jesus Christ or miss out on eternal life. Jesus really is the only way to heaven. Acts 4:12  And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.

If there was any other way to get to heaven without believing in Jesus, then Jesus did not need to come from heaven and die a horrendous death on the cross!

IT TAKES FAITH TO SHARE YOUR FAITH

Faith is the confident assurance that God’s word is true. It’s backed up by your own life changing experience of God’s love. Your story of how God revealed Himself to you is called your testimony. It is the real life current evidence that God is real to you! Paul gave great value to the evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit as a proof of God’s truth. 1 Cor 2:4 And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them],

Do you believe that Jesus really is the only way to eternal life? If so how does that impact how you treat people?

IT TAKES FAITH TO SHARE YOUR FAITH

When your faith is strong:

  • You know your Salvation is so real. You have incredible joy, and you know that you have passed from death to life and from living in darkness to light!
  • You know that hell is a real place and to be avoided at all cost. The bridge is out and people are driving towards it. What will you do?
  • You love people because everyone is precious to God, you see them as lost and outside God’s protection. Would you go the extra mile to help someone find Jesus?
  • You are passionate to do His will. He has specifically asked you to share the gospel with everyone you know. Matt 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

HOW DO YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH SO THAT YOU CAN SHARE IT?

  1.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and fill you. You need supernatural help.
  2. Learn more about this amazing salvation we have. Read your bible as much as you can.
  3. Just start. – Tell your story to someone today.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Can we expect to have assurance of our salvation?

2. What are we actually saved from?

3. If God’s love reached out to us to seek and save us then how would that impact how we act towards others?

4. What if someone doesn’t want to know about Jesus?

5.  What is the role of the Holy Spirit in your faith sharing?

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SHARING FAITH # 1PM  Share your faith 1

Share your faith – don’t ever be afraid!

When I was a very new Christian, one of the first experiences I had was joining our youth street witnessing team. What a great experience that was! First we learned what the gospel was, and why we needed to share with people about the love of Jesus. We learned that all men had sinned and that the wages of sin is death, Hell is really bad and awaits every person who has not decided to follow Jesus. We learned about how the Holy Spirit is within us and how His power changes lives when we share the love of God. Then off we went into the city to share God’s love. For many years the youth group ran a coffee shop in the city in an underground location. We would go out into the street share our faith with people, and then invite them down into the coffee shop for a free coffee. We saw hundreds of people saved over many years.

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

Not long after I became a Christian when I was studying at Uni I would ride the bus to Uni every day. Each day I would feel the prompting of the Lord to speak to anyone and everyone about Jesus, but I was so scared. My heart would be beating so hard in my chest I wondered if someone else could hear it! I put it off for weeks but finally I summed up the courage to say to a young man I was sitting next to, “Hi I’m Craig and would love to share with you about Jesus!” To which he replied, “Oh wow. I’m a Christian too, that’s great!”

I was so relived not to be rejected, but disappointed that I still hadn’t witnessed my faith to anyone. Was God just showing me, don’t be afraid it’s not that scary?

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

At university I joined the Christian group and pretty soon I was leading it because they were not too excited about Jesus and I certainly was. It helps when you are full of the Holy Spirit. So we would arrange for the team to go out witnessing once a week at lunchtimes on the Uni campus. We would give out tracts and share with people. One time we ran a coffee shop at Uni in O week and one young man received Christ who is now the INC Pastor at Mt. Barker in the Adelaide hills.

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

Another time in O week we showed an awesome surfing movie that was produced by a Christian film group and it contained cracking footage of surfing huge waves and also contained an interview with different surfers who shared their story about following Jesus. At the end of the movie I jumped up and preached in the theatre to about 400 young Uni hopefuls about how Jesus had changed my life! Some walked out, some stayed and a couple lingered to ask more about Jesus.

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

That kind of outreach was what we now call bait and switch. You offer something that looks wild, cool, exciting and appealing and then at the end you pull out the gospel. It’s not wrong, but some people may feel tricked. It’s not as effective as love and serve the people you want to reach like we do in Red Frogs.  Actually Jesus pulled a kind of Bait and Switch every day when He fed the five thousand and then healed lots of people which is pretty attractive then began to preach saying, “Unless you believe you shall all likewise perish.”  Listen to this…. Every kind of evangelism is valid. There are an infinite number of ways to reach lost people, just go out and do it!

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

Here’s what Red frogs do today. At schoolies the people who are volunteers, look after year 12 students who are bent on drinking themselves into oblivion at the Gold Coast. The Red Frogs team surround them with care, look after them and bring a safety net under their crazy antics so that this generation can survive the schoolies mayhem. In and through that process they get to share the gospel with people who are ready to listen. Lots of young people receive Christ every year.

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

One good friend of mine, Brian, was doing life tough before he was saved and he called the church office to ask for help. Suicidal and drug affected, he came to Christ and was deeply impacted. He went well for a while and later slipped back into old habits and ways. A couple of years later I saw him in the city, drunk, sitting on the footpath and swigging on a bottle of beer. I went over to him and told him we loved him and asked if we could help him. Later when he came through in Jesus to a very powerful life lived for God he told me, “You remember that night you found me on the street drunk? Well I was going to smash that beer bottle over your head, but something stopped me.”

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

Ask you friend beside you right now, “What would stop you sharing your faith?”

Not long after that when Brian was going great for God, we had the youth street witnessing team in the city and we were singing on the streets in the city mall. From behind us came a spray of water, which turned out to be beer. Another man who was drunk was spraying his beer bottle contents over the Christian singers and when we approached him he was swearing a lot, and very angry. Just then two plain clothes police arrested him and took him away. It seemed like a non-event. However later when Brian caught up with this man that was arrested, he knew him and he found out that the reason he was drunk and so mad at Christians was that his three year old son had just died. He was heartbroken and angry at God. Brian knew Jesus now and reached into his heart and showed him God’s great love and that man gave his heart to Christ

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

You can share you faith with strangers on the street, as I have done by street preaching, or you can share your faith with your friends and neighbours by serving and loving. Both are valid and important. By loving and serving our neighbour Albert we led a man to Christ, who was former bikie and was dying of liver failure in hospital.

Share your faith. Don’t ever be afraid.

When Jesus said, Matthew 28:19 (AMP)

19 Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It means we have a job to do. Do not think of it as “I should do this, I should do that.” It’s time to believe, so pray like this, “God open doors for me to share my faith with the people you select to bring across my path.” Let your witnessing be led by the Spirit. BUT, be ready to obey when He shows you – “that’s the one.” You need faith to share your faith.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Please discuss the full meaning of Acts 1:8 in your group.

2. If you ever felt like it was a duty to share your faith, what should you do?

3. Tell some stories about times when you have shared your faith.

4. What’s your testimony? – Your story of how you met Jesus and how you know He’s real?

5.  Practice sharing your testimonies in the group.

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SALVATION FAITH #4AM  – SUNDAY MORNING MESSAGE AT PLENTY VALLEY CHURCH. 22/2/15

FAITH IS

Why are we speaking about Faith this year? All we receive from God is by faith, every promise, every blessing and all His plan will be accomplished through faith. Faith is our confidence in God’s word, His promises, and our trust in His character to do as He has promised. Our salvation is the most important subject overall. Nothing is more important in your life that this one question: Are you saved?

Do you know you are saved? Are you merely hoping you are saved? Is your faith in Christ saving faith? Would you deny your faith for any reason? That’s what this month’s theme is addressing.

Our key verse for the month is Ephesians 2:8-9 (AMP)

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favour) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9 Not because of works [not the fulfilment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

The bible is full of true stories that illustrate salvation. For example we have

  • Adam and the skins of animals that covered his nakedness.
  • Noah and the ark that saved him and his family from God’s judgement.
  • Abraham and his believing which was accounted to him as righteousness.
  • Isaac and the ram caught in the thicket, a substitute for his life.
  • Jacob who wrestled with God who changed his nature.
  • The exodus where each person was saved by blood on the doorpost.

I could go on!

A famous old church chorus asks this important question:

Are you washed in the blood, in the soul cleansing blood of the lamb? Are fully trusting in His grace this hour, are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

Let’s look at the parable Jesus taught about the prodigal son because it is an important illustration about faith for salvation.

Luke 15:10-32.

10 Even so, I tell you, there is joy among and in the presence of the angels of God over one [especially] wicked person who repents (changes his mind for the better, heartily amending his ways, with abhorrence of his past sins).

11 And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons;

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them.

13 And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.

14 And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want.

15 So he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs.

16 And he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better].

17 Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger!

18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants.

The power of this story to illustrate salvation, is the change of heart that the son experiences when he realises his lack and poverty. The powerful moment when he “comes to himself” indicates a change of mind and heart which the bible teaches is repentance.

For a person to receive salvation, the forgiveness of sins, that person must exercise faith. Faith is the confident expectation that God’s promise is true and results in trust in His plan. The prodigal son was confident in his father’s love and acceptance. At the time of salvation a transaction takes place. Christ carries your sins and you receive His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP)

21 For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].

For God’s part there is a choosing

Ephesians 1:4-5 (AMP)

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.

5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—

For our part there is a response

Acts 2:37-38 (AMP)

37 Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles (special messengers), Brethren, what shall we do?

38 And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 There is a decision, a turning, a repentance, which simply means a change of mind and heart. It’s a turning to God and a turning away from the old life, from sins. This turning leads to a trust in Christ that He saves, and you are forgiven of all your sins. This leads to a cosmic alteration of the eternal accounting ledger where your sins are no longer accounted to you. Your name is now written down in the book of life.

Colossians 2:13-14 (AMP)

13 And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions,

14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.

Having faith in Christ saves you. Faith is your belief in God’s promise and your trust in His plan of salvation through the cross. It was initiated by God’s choosing as He calls you and He reveals His goodness to you. It is then sealed by your response as you accept the truth of your need, you repent and believe the gospel.

WHAT IF I DOUBT? – AM I STILL SAVED?

Doubt enters the mind. Its origin is spiritual and shows us the enemy of our souls, satan, is intent on destroying your faith. This is a real and predictable spiritual attack.

If your heart has been moved by God’s love, then guided by your heart, you put off those doubts from your mind, because your heart is convicted by His truth. Like the bride or groom who has second thoughts on the day of the wedding, the question is: am I assured of my partners love?

The parable of the sower and the seed illustrates this truth:

Matthew 13:18-21 (AMP)

18 Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower:

19 While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside.

20 As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy;

21 Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away.

WHAT NOW?

Have you heard the gospel and been moved in your heart? Have you “come to yourself” and some point in your life? If the result of that revelation was that you turned away from your old life and trusted in Christ, then you are saved. If not, now is the time to turn to Christ, and turn away from the old life. Are you struggling with doubt? Put away your doubts and fully trust in the promise of God. In order to gain the confidence to do that, read God’s word and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His word to you.

DISCUSSION

1. Does God help people because He feels pity for them?

2. What does the prodigal son parable teach us about our life journey before we meet Jesus?

3. Why is it that some people come to the realisation that they need God when the chips are down and others don’t come to that realisation?

4. We are probably a bit reluctant to admit we have doubts at times but doesn’t everybody have doubts at some stage in their journey?

5. Show how this verse can be applied to doubts that come to mind – 2 Cor 10:4-5.

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SALVATION FAITH # 3AMWho is Jesus That’s a great question! Lots of people never actually ask that question, but if you hang around Christians long enough, then somewhere you will hear about being “saved”. It’s a term that doesn’t come into the vernacular of regular folks unless you’re talking about being saved from the surf or a burning building; but saved from… er  hell? – That’s different!   It’s about understanding the human condition. You will have a world view on that. You will have a perspective of how you see the world and people. Consider this from a bible perspective just for a moment …. Humour me!

  1. There’s a lot of evil in the world, like ISIS for example. Or even the brutal slaying of Jill Meagher
  2. The concept of judgement falls easily onto the human mind. We all feel comfortable with the concept that such evil will be judged and should be judged. In most movies the bad guy gets it in the end – right?
  3. Now importantly, recognise the natural tendency of human pride. The tendency of us all to say, “I’m alright though. I’m good!” We see ourselves as being naturally on the side of good. We often say, “He’s a good guy, or she’s a really good person.” Jesus actually says, “There is none good but God.” (Matt 19:17) Probably we really mean that a person has a soft heart or a proud heart rather than a good heart/bad heart. Even as Christians we use this terminology frequently, but what we mean is that person has a soft heart as compared to a proud heart.
  4. Judgement is universal. The truth is God is perfect and no wrong will go unpunished. God is infinite in His capacity to know all and see all; and He is just which means He cannot overlook any wrong doing. Being just, He will reward all wrong with punishment and all good with reward.
  5. Now the trouble is, we have all (Rom 3:23) Come on! You surely must admit you have told the occasional lie – right? You have used the Lord’s name in vain? You have committed adultery in your mind at least? Stolen anything at all in your life? I could go on… So if God is just and holy then you and I will be judged. Therefore you need saving!

The most commonly held belief in Australia is this…. There is a God. (78%) These people mostly believe God judges by their own standards. So really evil people will go to hell (Belief in hell 29%) People such as Hitler, murderers like the bloke who killed Jill Meagher, rapists, paedophiles, and terrorists. All the rest, including me of course, will go to heaven (belief in heaven). At almost every funeral in Australia, we see the use of church facilities or a chapel with a priest, pastor, or religious leader speaking and giving the assumption that the dear departed is in heaven now, with their life described in glowing terms. Of those who die though, only 17% of those Australians had actually attended church. Perhaps even less had a faith in Jesus Christ. For some people there is a discovery. A light goes on. It’s the light of the gospel. I am a sinner. I need to be saved. God gives that revelation. The vehicle by which people receive that revelation is the gospel. The motivation is Grace (God’s love). He way we receive it is Faith. Saving faith. Look how it happened to Peter in the bible… Matt 16:1-4, 13-18 Matthew 16:1-4 Amplified Bible (AMP) 16 Now the Pharisees and Sadducees came up to Jesus, and they asked Him to show them a sign (spectacular miracle) from heaven [attesting His divine authority]. 2 He replied to them, When it is evening you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, 3 And in the morning, It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and has a gloomy and threatening look. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and morally unfaithful generation craves a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Then He left them and went away. Matthew 16:13-18 Amplified Bible (AMP) 13 Now when Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? 14 And they answered, Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. 15 He said to them, But who do you [yourselves] say that I am? 16 Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]. Peter spoke up and said, “Jesus, you are the Christ, (which means Messiah) the son of the Living God.” He had been following Jesus for about 2 years. So he had plenty of time to observe and understand who Jesus really was. (In surveys conducted by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association they discovered that people hear the gospel about an average of 3.5 times before they come to faith.) He received a revelation of Jesus, that Jesus said came to Peter directly from heaven, from the Father God. Who do you say Jesus is? He referred to himself as the son of God. (John 19:7) That is either true or false. If it’s true then we must believe it. If it’s false then Jesus was either insane, a lunatic, or He was lying deliberately. Any historian worth his salt would say Jesus teachings were profound and enlightening and do not exhibit the marks of a lunatic at all. To claim that He deliberately lied is also a stretch considering His moral teachings and the strength of His influence across history. This choice of Jesus as Lord, Liar or Lunatic is a simple one. Which will you choose? Jesus said that Peter’s statement was such a profound and important one that He would build His church on this same revelation, that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Your salvation depends on what you believe about Jesus. If you believe He is the Son of the Living God, if that truth and revelation has come to you from above and you are convicted by it then you are saved. There are sceptics and Jesus dealt with them in the early part of the chapter. He spoke of the Pharisees and those who seek a sign. Many people look for proof of who Jesus is. He said he would not give them proof then and there because they would only be given the sign of Jonah. Sceptics look for proof. Seekers look for God. This is the example of the proud heart and the soft heart. The sceptic asks for proof on his own terms, but if you are talking to God surely proof comes on His terms not ours. The sceptic says “if you will do this… then I will do that” Is any proof really ever enough? The answer is no. Jesus said the wicked seek a sign. Jesus simple asks – “Who do you say I am?” What do you say? DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Do you consider yourself to be saved? 2. Who do you believe Jesus really is? 3. What did Jesus say He would build His church on the revelation that He is the Son of the living God? 4. When a sceptic seeks a sign – are they really looking for proof? 5. Discuss the proud heart verses soft heart idea.

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SALVATION FAITH  #2am  faith blocks

PERSPECTIVE

This year we are sharing the theme of faith, and this month the theme is on faith for salvation. The most important subject on earth.

And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 AMP)

Jesus really is the only way to heaven.

MY STORY

My salvation. I was brought up without any religious experience. Neither of my parents were believers or attended church. While in university, I witnessed a church outreach where Christians sang and witnessed their faith and a preacher shared a gospel message. When one of the group came over to me to speak about their faith and invited me to church, I considered the invitation and went along, encouraged by a friend who also attended this church.

At the church I was very surprised by what I witnessed, seeing miracles, healings, and testimonies of lives changed from alcohol addiction, drug addiction and broken marriage.  I did not accept Christ at that time but I went home and began to think about what I had experienced.  Over the next few days I considered the message and began to pray to God asking Him to show himself to me if He were real.  It was a interesting week. The following Sunday I went back to the church and made a decision to accept Christ. Right away I knew something supernatural had happened to me.

The witness at uni. – light comes. When you hear the gospel, you are hearing truth and the knowledge received is light.  Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life. (John 8:12 AMP)

Attend church – knowledge comes. Hearing again the message of the gospel makes the light even brighter, the call more clear. All things have been entrusted and delivered to Me by My Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son deliberately wills to make Him known. (Matthew 11:27 AMP)

Thinking it through – assent.  There comes a point where we have opportunity to respond and then a person makes a choice to agree or not that I must be saved.  But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name–[Isa. 56:5.] (John 1:12 AMP)

Going to Church a second time and responding to an invitation – Trust –  The decision to agree and then respond to the gospel if followed by placing ones trust in Jesus Christ. Truly I say to you, whoever does not accept and receive and welcome the kingdom of God like a little child [does] shall not in any way enter it [at all]. (Luke 18:17 AMP)

Salvation comes through faith alone, and the simple process of how it works is knowledge, assent, then trust. There must be a knowledge of ones need for salvation and also of the offer of pardon granted through Jesus Christ. Secondly there must be assent, you agree that you need Jesus. You agree that you are lost without hope. After that there is a decision to trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Repentance, a word that simply means to change your mind, and faith are two sides of the one coin. It’s not important to analyse which comes first or if there is any time factor involved at all; however at the time when one is saved faith is enabled by God, faith to believe the promise of salvation. Repentance is granted by God to change ones mind. That means to turn to Christ and to turn away from the old way of life. Repentance is a whole sale change of heart and means humility acknowledging that you were previously lost and were in enmity with God.

Faith isn’t hope. Faith is knowledge spiritually acquired and comes by way of revelation.

One doesn’t simply hope that by believing in God and attending church that God will accept you when you die. That is a vain hope. It’s religion really. Faith is a knowledge that you have got it! You have an assurance that you have Christ on the inside, you already are a child of the living God and you are adopted into the family of God.

TENETS OF FAITH

Tenets of faith means the important statements that express what we believe about these important topics.

  1. Salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ, the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as He died a substitutionary death for all mankind and not by any works a man can do.
  2. All mankind is in need of salvation
  3. Only through Jesus Christ can a person obtain salvation.
  4. Salvation is available to all who turn to Christ calling on His name.
  5. God is sovereign in His choosing of who will be saved and this is known as predestination.

THE STORY OF ABRAHAM

Reading Gen 12:1-4

12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation,  and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

Abraham was called. God communicated to him and asked him to do something in obedience.

GOD CALLS US – IT MAYBE IN OUR YOUTH OR LATER IN LIFE. IT’S A CALL TO GO; TO OBEY HIM.

A journey began, this part of Abraham’s life was a challenge and a promise. The challenge to go, obey and trust, and a promise of blessing and also to be part of Gods great plan to bless the whole earth with His salvation.

WHEN GOD CALLS YOU – THERE’S SOMETHING TO LEAVE AND YOU ARE CALLED TO TRUST AND ALSO THERE IS PROMISE OF BLESSING AND ALSO TO BE PART OF HIS GREAT PLAN. THE GOSPEL TO GO TO THE WHOLE EARTH.

Abraham began the Journey with no clear picture of where he would end up.

THE SAME FOR US.

While he began in faith, there was mixture in Abraham’s life, fear, lying, trying to accomplish Gods will in his own way etc.

THE FAITH JOURNEY IS NOT WITHOUT UPS AND DOWNS. WE SOMETIMES FAIL AND TAKE BACKWARD STEPS. BUT GOD IS PLEASED WITH FAITH AND HE WILL WORK WITHIN YOU TO ENCOURAGE INSPIRE AND ENABLE YOU TO WALK IN FAITH. YOU WILL GRADUALLY TRANSITION FROM TRUSTING IN YOURSELF AND YOUR OWN WAYS TO TRUSTING IN GOD COMPLETELY.

Initially Abraham experienced blessings even before God gave him his own son.

ALONG THE WAY IN OUR JOURNEY WE EXPERIENCE ANSWERS TO PRAYER AND GODS PROVISION TO TEACH US HE IS TRUSTWORTHY.

In Gen 15:1 God reveals Himself in a new way, as El Shaddai the all sufficient one.

Abraham immediately asks for the impossible. – a son.

It’s a big ask but God says yes and promises even bigger, not just a son but nations shall come out of you!

Right then Abraham has knowledge of Gods ability, he gives assent to His will and trusts that God will do as He has promised. Abraham believes God and God accounts to him righteousness.

GOD IS LOOKING FOR FAITH, IS PLEASED WITH FAITH, AND IS PASSIONATE ABOUT JOINING US INTO HIS PLAN.

HOW DO I KNOW I’M SAVED?

There’s been a life change.

A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration]. (Matthew 7:18 AMP)

There’s fruit of repentance in your life.

Bear fruits that are deserving and consistent with [your] repentance [that is, conduct worthy of a heart changed, a heart abhorring sin]. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for I tell you that God is able from these stones to raise up descendants for Abraham. (Luke 3:8 AMP)

You have an assurance that you belong to Him and you’re going there.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Have some members of the group share the story of how they came to be a Christian – your testimony.

2. Can anyone identify the steps of their salvation as knowledge, assent, trust?

3. What was your experience in terms of how you life changed after committing your life to Christ.

4. Now that you are a Christian, how do you feel about being part of His plan and purpose?

5. How can you share His plan for salvation to others?

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FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH #4AM Hebrews-11-1-web

Have you ever been in a situation where something happened and you said, “I knew that would happen!” If something’s not likely to go well, it’s easy to predict the failure, but does it make a difference what you’re expecting?

Let’s say I’m fixing an old car and I need a part. So I call up the manufacturers service centre and I ask for spare parts. While I’m waiting on the phone for the parts person to pick up, what am I thinking? This part will be hard to get, the car is old, it’s probably out of stock, I wonder how many calls I will have to make to find a part. It could take me days, weeks to locate this part.

OR

I could be thinking, they will have this part for sure. It’s a part that wears out often and they will have plenty of spares. That’s how these guys make money, on spare parts. I should have it all done in a couple of hours and then we can go out for dinner.

What’s the difference? – Your expectation! What you’re expecting makes a difference. Why do you think people so often refer to others as “cup half empty” or a “cup half full” kind of person? There’s two ways to view most situations. One way is expecting the worst, that’s being a pessimist. The other way is expecting the best. That’s an optimist. If you’re going to be a person of faith you cannot be a pessimist. You must decide that you are going to be an optimist! It’s not about the abundance of evidence, we are always making up our mind to believe something without the luxury of all the facts. You just can’t get all the facts all the time, you need to make decisions based on your best judgement. That’s where wisdom comes in. The more optimistic you are the more your faith is in action creating the future you desire to see come to pass.

You’re going to have an outdoors BBQ next weekend. What’s the weather going to be like? One thing we all know is, don’t bother checking the weather forecast. They get it wrong often and it can change. What are you expecting?

What you’re expecting makes a difference. It’s not just being positive or negative, it’s creating the future for you. Look at this verse: Proverbs 24:14(AMP)

14 So shall you know skillful and godly Wisdom to be thus to your life; if you find it, then shall there be a future and a reward, and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.

God says your expectation will not be cut off. It has power, so let’s understand how this fits in with faith because we know that faith can move mountains right?

Here’s a story.

Acts 3:3-8 (AMP)

3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (three o’clock in the afternoon),

2 [When] a certain man crippled from his birth was being carried along, who was laid each day at that gate of the temple [which is] called Beautiful, so that he might beg for charitable gifts from those who entered the temple.

3 So when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them to give him a gift.

4 And Peter directed his gaze intently at him, and so did John, and said, Look at us!

5 And [the man] paid attention to them, expecting that he was going to get something from them.

6 But Peter said, Silver and gold (money) I do not have; but what I do have, that I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!

7 Then he took hold of the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankle bones became strong and steady,

8 And leaping forth he stood and began to walk, and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

In this story, a crippled man is expecting some money, but it puts his heart and mind in the right place of expecting to receive, and Peter James and John deliver something better than money – a miracle healing! This man’s position of looking up and expecting to receive opened him up to receive the biggest miracle of his life.

So often our frame of mind is to expect the worst. Many people even voice all their negative expectations. It’s almost a sport to see who can be the most negative and so create a joke about it. But all jokes aside, what you’re really expecting makes a difference.

Let’s go back to the definition of faith:

Hebrews 11:1(AMP)

11 Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faith is being sure in our heart, that what we hope for, is already ours. Faith means that we have taken possession of the thing that we hope for. Now hope in the bible is a very strong and positive word, not like the way we use hope in the modern vernacular. Bible hope is a strong and confident expectation.

The bible links hope with faith. It says faith is the assurance of things hoped for.

What are you hoping for? Ladies, when you hope to buy a new dress or top, don’t you have something in mind that you want? Haven’t you pictured the desired article in your mind’s eye?  Guys, is there something you hope for? A new car perhaps? What man hoping for a new car has not pictured the exact model and colour he desires? It’s in his mind’s eye.

Faith is the assurance of what you hope for. Faith is the confidence that you have in your possession the very thing you are hoping for. Faith reaches out and takes hold of what you are hoping for and brings it into reality. It’s almost like faith has a hold on one end of the rope and the other end is what you are hoping for. Faith just pulls it in!

All this will start to make sense when I tell you that the word for hope and the word for expectation are the same words in the original languages of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Not only that but the word for hope and expectation in the Old Testament means literally a cord or a rope.

Now does it make sense that the bible says your expectation shall not be cut off!

The nuts and bolts of faith. Now let me put it all together for you. You can change your expectations. Your future and what you want to see happen is what you are hoping for. That hope is a confidence and strong sense of what you desire to receive and see take place. Now because it is your hope, you can visualize that outcome. Your hope or confidence is like a rope or cord. You have hold of one end and the other end is the expected outcome. Now don’t let go! Don’t give up! Don’t think up all the reasons why it won’t happen. Expect the best. Expect that you will have the outcome you desire. Now faith is the assurance of things you hope for. Faith is the supernatural ability to lay hold of that hope, if you like, one end of the rope and receive or bring into reality the things you hope for and expect.

So there is usually an element of time involved. It takes time to pray and believe and work through any doubts and get more and more confident that what you are believing for will come to pass.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What is a typical negative expectation that you often have?

2. Do you find that you expect the best generally or do you often expect the worst?

3. Do you believe that you can change your expectation?

4. What things are you expecting for this year?

5. If your mind constantly goes to the negative, how could you change that?

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FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH #3PM# FAITH

FAITH AND TRUST

Understanding faith is a lifetime journey, yet it is so simple. Jesus spoke about faith over and over again and marvelled that His disciples often had so little faith, as if that was so astounding. Here’s what Jesus says about the simplicity of faith.

Matthew 18:3 (AMP)

And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all].

What is faith? Do you have faith? Is the faith you have that the chair you’re sitting on is going to hold you up and not collapse any different from the faith one has in God?

Faith is the confident assurance that God is who He said He is. Faith is the knowledge, spiritually received, that what God said is true and you can rely on it. Faith is actually given to you by God himself.

Romans 12:3 (AMP)

For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

God designed you and me to use faith and to walk in faith as we interact with Him. One of the most important ingredients in faith is trust. You can have faith in God when you trust Him. That trust must be in the same manner as a little child trusts, as we see from the verse we first read. What is trust? The bible word for trust in the old and new testaments means to flee for refuge to a safe place, to be confident, to be sure, to rely with inward certainty.

Do you trust God? Would He ever let you down?

Here’s some examples of trust.

One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and then yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.

When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”

He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure…because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn’t this even more true for a Christian?

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.

There is no situation I can get into that God cannot get me out. Some years ago when I was learning to fly, my instructor told me to put the plane into a steep and extended dive. I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen. After a brief time the engine stalled, and the plane began to plunge out-of-control. It soon became evident that the instructor was not going to help me at all. After a few seconds, which seemed like eternity, my mind began to function again. I quickly corrected the situation.

Immediately I turned to the instructor and began to vent my fearful frustrations on him. He very calmly said to me, “There is no position you can get this airplane into that I cannot get you out of. If you want to learn to fly, go up there and do it again.” At that moment God seemed to be saying to me, “Remember this. As you serve Me, there is no situation you can get yourself into that I cannot get you out of. If you trust me, you will be all right.”  That lesson has been proven true in my ministry many times over the years.

James Brown, Evangeline Baptist Church, Wildsville, LA, in Discoveries, Fall, 1991, Vol. 2, No. 4.

A television program preceding the 1988 Winter Olympics featured blind skiers being trained for slalom skiing, impossible as that sounds. Paired with sighted skiers, the blind skiers were taught on the flats how to make right and left turns. When that was mastered, they were taken to the slalom slope, where their sighted partners skied beside them shouting, “Left!” and “Right!” As they obeyed the commands, they were able to negotiate the course and cross the finish line, depending solely on the sighted skiers’ word. It was either complete trust or catastrophe.

What a vivid picture of the Christian life! In this world, we are in reality blind about what course to take. We must rely solely on the Word of the only One who is truly sighted–God Himself. His Word gives us the direction we need to finish the course.

Robert W. Sutton.

Blind sailor gets healed http://youtu.be/pi-8ILvRBOM

Would you go sailing with a blind sailor? Would that seem dangerous to you?

What about sliding into a bobsleigh and careering down the icy track reaching speeds of 160 kms per hour – with a blind driver?

Blind Bobsledder Steve Holcomb – http://youtu.be/5KvwdEsrqEY

A lot of people trust themselves and yet find it hard to trust God which doesn’t seem to make sense! God is trust worthy, no doubt, because He is perfect and cannot lie. Yet many times we don’t trust Him because we doubt that He loves us completely. We think that God would ignore us, or forget us, or treat us as we deserve because of our failures.

So God encourages us to trust Him many times in the bible.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

Having faith in God means putting your whole trust in Him, even when you don’t see how it’s going to work. Even when it seems crazy to trust Him, even if you can’t see any way that things could possibly work out, you’re going to trust in Him and rely on Him – that’s trust. Here’s a great example from the bible.

Matt 14:24-31 (AMP)

24 But the boat was by this time out on the sea, many furlongs [a furlong is one-eighth of a mile] distant from the land, beaten and tossed by the waves, for the wind was against them.

25 And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright.

27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid!

28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.

29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus.

30 But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]!

31 Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

Imagine Peter stepping out of the boat. Imagine what thoughts he would have to overcome in his mind to place his foot down onto the water to step out of the boat.

Now it’s your turn to walk on water. God hasn’t changed. He’s the same yesterday today and forever. So ask Him to call you onto the water and get ready to step out.

What are you going to do this year that you have never tried before?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What things that happen to people cause them to loose trust in others?

2. What kind of things happen to people that they blame God for?

3. Are these examples of God not caring for us?

4. How can we trust God? Is He trustworthy?

5. Discuss what trust as a little child looks like.

 

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FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH # 2 amFaith-440x330

Assumptions

  1. All scripture is divinely inspired and without error. Please see our teaching on this at this podcast.
  2. James 1:22 Amplified Bible (AMP) 22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

Understanding Faith is the great journey of the Christian life. From the very beginning of the journey to know God, the Christian uses faith to obtain the very first promise of receiving forgiveness and obtaining eternal life. Then the new life lived with God in relationship requires that faith is active and growing throughout the whole of the Christian life.

Four times in the scriptures God says “The just shall live by faith.” To live by faith means that faith is the primary ingredient in our walk with God. The essential nature of faith comes evident when we discover that as created beings God made man to have faith and use faith to participate in His world through relationship with God.

In Habakkuk where we find the first mention of the just shall live by faith there is an interesting footnote by a biblical commentator:

Habakkuk 2:4 – There is a curious passage in the Talmud [the body of Jewish civil and religious law] which says that Moses gave six hundred injunctions to the Israelites. As these commands might prove too numerous to commit to memory, David brought them down to eleven in Psalm 15. Isaiah reduced these eleven to six in [his] chapter 33:15. Micah (6:8) further reduced them to three; and Isaiah (56:1) once more brought them down to two. These two Amos (5:4) reduced to one. However, lest it might be supposed from this that God could be found only in the fulfilment of the law, Habakkuk (2:4 kjv) said, “The just shall live by his faith”” (William H. Saulez, The Romance of the Hebrew Language).

What does it mean to live by faith?

It means that your success in life in which you meet and know God and conduct a supernatural relationship with Him is made possible only by having and using faith. The verse has the understanding that one’s life comes out of and proceeds from faith. How else might someone live? By human knowledge, by the senses, by making every decision and choice about life through the natural man’s resources of the five senses.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervour; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.(AMP)

For example, do you trust in God’s provision? Each and every day we make choices after considering the information concerning our resources. Do I have enough money? Will my decisions and my feelings be regulated by what I see in my bank account? Or will they be regulated by what God has promised to me and every believer? A promise such as Phil 4:19 – “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory” can bring confidence and hope to your outlook. Faith is the knowledge that the promise is trustworthy and you can count on it. It carries more weight than the 5 senses information of what’s in the bank.

Each and every day, as a Christian believer, God has designed that we live by faith. It’s normal and natural for this “animal” to live by faith. Like a fish breaths water and a mammal breaths air, a Christian uses faith to exist and prosper in this supernatural life we have. We are not created to live life attached to the umbilical cord of sense knowledge alone. We are created to function and prosper by using faith to know God’s word and His will and function accordingly. It’s by nature a life lived supernaturally.

Just imagine you wake up tomorrow morning and you have a tummy ache. What’s your first thought? This is uncomfortable! I don’t want this pain and discomfort! Now what’s your next thought? (This will be the test of live by faith or live by natural knowledge.) I imagine that a majority of Christians reach for the medication bottle first, and to be honest, I would probably do that many times, unless it’s severe and then I make the faith step of talking to God about it. Asking in prayer for divine intervention is the first step in living by faith. But listen to this: if you’re living vitally connected to Jesus and filled with His word you will know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and no plague can come near your dwelling. What’s more, nothing shall by any means hurt you. So the first reaction to a tummy ache from a man or woman of faith is: “Get off me pain!! You have no right or place in me!!” And then get on with your day whether the pain goes immediately or after several hours the mind is rested and content in God’s activity being set in motion and His will has been accomplished. All is set right and from now on I am not dictated to by feelings or what I see but I am resting in the promise and kindness of God.

All day every day you and I make decisions and experience feelings that spring from knowledge. Is that knowledge mere sense knowledge, or are we making decisions and experiencing feelings that spring from supernatural knowledge of Gods’ promises and provision? That latter experience is living by faith and my main thought that I want to get across today is that God created and designed you to operate in this faith life, not to be hamstrung and hobbled by living entirely out of the 5 senses and experiencing only natural knowledge.

God has faith.  Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.(NLT) God created all things by faith. God created something from nothing and fashioned it not by skilful hands but by His words. God operates exclusively by faith.

We are created in His likeness. Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” (NLT)

Human beings are created in the likeness of God. We are created to be like God, that is, to have a spirit and be in union with God knowing and understanding His will and His way. Listen to how Jesus describes this… John 15:4-8  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (NLT)

Hebrews 11:6 Amplified Bible (AMP)  But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. When we meet Jesus and receive this new life in Christ, of course we want to please Him, Right?

Living this life with God is glorious and exciting. It’s filled with challenges and God is interested in seeing you grow in faith because then you are becoming closer and closer to the intended design. Live by faith not by sight.

So how shall we respond to this message? Choose to live by faith. Get into God’s word and think deeply on it. When making any decision, consider first – “what do I know about what God says to me about this?” Make faith decisions. Consider the promise first before the sense knowledge dictates the outcome. Use faith for all the little things so that your faith grows and when the big things come along you are prepared.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What kind of information comes to us through our five senses? give some examples.

2. What kind of information comes to us by faith from God?

3. What do you think Paul is trying to say in 2 Cor 5:7?

4. Is it hard to make decisions out of faith rather than what we see by our own five senses?

5. How would you build your reliance on faith?

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LOVE CONQUERS #3AMLove Conquers Combined 150 ppi

Love is the most powerful force on earth. If you have experienced God’s love that won’t be too hard for you to swallow! When we talk about God’s love and God’s love in people, we have a history of actions and world events that shape the destinies and lives of many. God’s love for mankind shown through the cross and resurrection of Jesus gives us the most powerful picture of God’s love in action.

Throughout life most people at some time will suffer in some way. We may suffer injustice and we may suffer the pain of circumstances beyond our control. The range of suffering is vast and for some the suffering is great in comparison to the majority. Nevertheless just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one’s own suffering is held to be more significant than that of others in many cases.

Have you suffered? My suffering is small compared to many. My first brush with suffering was when at 7 years old my dad died. For whatever reason I never considered it a kind of suffering. It was just life, process it, change and adjust to the new normal. Later at age 24 a sickness made me lose all my hair overnight. That seemed a bit more like suffering, although many others saw it as a minor distraction, it was tough on my self-image. Later experiences of betrayal and accusation in the ministry role were my real chance to love and forgive and make my suffering a place of growth. Over the years Christian brothers have defrauded me of large amounts of money and that felt like suffering. Yet I have always ended up stronger and more in love with Jesus through these experiences because Love Conquers. Have you suffered?

Listen to what Paul says about suffering; Phil 3:10

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.(NKJV)

Perspective is paramount in understanding suffering. When we see a young child trying to walk and they fall and skin their knee, the resulting cries portray a world of suffering that the baby may not understand. Yet the nurturing mother and the practical father say, “Come on, get up have another try. Soon you will be walking.” When the child grows, the pain that was suffered in learning how to walk is long forgotten in favour of the value of walking, running and winning a gold medal or whatever great things lie ahead to be achieved. Similarly we, as little children in God’s plan, may not have all the right perspective on the why and how of the suffering that we experience. God knows all things and His perspective is eternal and complete and His love is deep, forgiving and wise for our good and the His Kingdom to prevail.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Let’s look at the story of Stephen – Stephen Is Arrested – Acts 6:8-15

8 Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. 9 But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke. 11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. 13 The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth[c] will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”  15 At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.

Chap 7

Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?” ……

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” 57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (NLT)

The story of Stephen is about the very first Christian Martyr. He was so passionate about following Jesus and had served Christ and lived wholeheartedly for Him. But the Jews hated him and this new religion that had sprung up was a major threat to the Jewish Status Quo. Stephen probably had a wife and maybe children. Imagine the world of pain that his murder created. Many men and women have willingly laid down their lives for a cause. Perhaps Stephen was no different. But that doesn’t assuage the pain felt by those who suffer the stones or those left behind.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

If you want to talk about suffering, you better ask Jesus. He suffered greatly with the agony of the cross and the injustice of what happened to the Son of the Living God. This suffering was necessary and endured by love. As Stephen suffered a painful and early death his eyes were fixed on Jesus. His heart was filled with love for his accusers, as evil as they were. He overcame in death because love conquers. He could have died a bitter man and with no reward and no fruit, but Stephen died rejoicing and without pain as he saw the face of Jesus and those around him said his face was that of an angel. Right there at his death stood Saul the Christian killer who later would turn to Christ and become the greatest apostle of them all.

Would you trade your suffering for the will of God if you knew it would change the world? Yet sometimes we just don’t know; but love conquers.

As Jesus suffered on the cross, His agony was complete, yet he didn’t move from suffering to hate or retribution but cried out in love “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. He bore the whole weight of sin and sickness for mankind and he overcame because Love Conquers.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Testimony – Corrie Ten Boom http://youtu.be/Ue8msG9HgDM

The story of Corrie Ten Boom is if a Dutch woman who, with her family, were Christians, and sheltered Jewish people during the Nazi occupation of Holland during WWII. Her whole family were caught and arrested. Corrie and her sister were imprisoned in a concentration camp where Betsy died only 12 days before Corrie was released.  Later when Corrie was moving around Germany preaching the Gospel in post war times, she encountered a former German guard who had become a Christian and approached her to ask forgiveness. Her suffering and injustice were palpable but Jesus enabled her to forgive and receive God’s love because LOVE CONQUERS.

Where have you been wronged? Who has robbed you and committed injustice against you? You can go to your grave a bitter person and gain no reward or you can love and forgive and change your future and maybe the future of many others. To suffer wrong or injustice is hard and painful but God turns the pain into a crown when you let love conquer.

Matt 5:11-12

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.(NLT)

I want to grab your mind and heart today, because some of you here have suffered and you feel it’s unjustified. You’re mad at God or you’re mad at people. But today there’s freedom for you if you hear my message. Love conquers.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

God uses suffering and injustice to bring about change and growth and His overall purpose. If it seems hard to understand or take it, remember Love Conquers.

Stephen loved his killers and accusers and his death a great victory in touching Saul.

Jesus loved His killers and torturers and it proved His obedience and gave the whole world the pathway for salvation.

1 Peter 3:13-18

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! 18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.(NLT)

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Phil 3:10

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!(NLT)

It’s extra hard to handle injustice when it’s meted out to you by your very own family or Christian brothers and sisters.

Love Conquers. Let God’s love soften your heart. You can go the grave bitter, angry and planning retribution; but if you do, you will suffer the loss of your own salvation and all the growth that comes from being like Jesus and walking in His footsteps. Let love Conquer today, let God’s love get in, forgive your accusers and your enemies. Bless them that do you harm, be like your heavenly father and live because love Conquers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Obviously suffering is painful, yet it seems so hard to endure, why do you think that is so?

2. How often have you considered a tough time and thought maybe God doesn’t care?

3. What if the real reason for suffering or injustice was to see a big change like the change Stephen saw as Saul came to Christ?

4. How is it that Stephen could love the Jewish leaders who killed him?

5. How can we receive God’s love and so obtain strength to love and forgive our enemies?

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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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