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Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

jesus-on-the-cross

An encounter with Jesus will change your life.

Right now at this Easter time is the best time to encounter the Son of God.

Good Friday marks the day when Jesus died on the cross. He gave His life up willingly so that He could show His love for you. His death was planned for ages past by God the Father as judgement of sin. Jesus, who was completely innocent willingly gave up His life to accept the penalty of sins committed by you and I and all mankind.

Let’s look at three different people who encountered Jesus.

The cynical thief.

Luke 23:39 NLT

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

One of the thieves who was crucified beside Jesus encountered Jesus but was not changed. One can hardly imagine the agony of the cross and to think that anyone could bear to speak through their pain is amazing. This man has some knowledge of Jesus and the claim that He was the messiah. Obviously not a believer and yet being at the very point of death he decides that Jesus can offer him nothing and scoffs at His claim to be the messiah and save anyone even Himself.

The penitent thief

Luke 23:40-43 NLT

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

While on the cross Jesus prays for those who crucified Him, Forgive them Father.” Being in agony Jesus cried out for others. The criminals who were crucified one either side of Him were there by divine appointment. Both deserving of their death, yet the timing and the place of their death is a story set for you and I to read and see the two ways in which people respond to the death of Jesus. How do you respond to the death of Jesus Christ?

This man is impacted by an encounter with Jesus because he has heard about Jesus and he has heard the claims made about Him, that He was the Messiah and that He had healed people and performed miracles. He has seen no miracles and seen nothing supernatural but he believes in who Jesus is on the testimony of others.

The gospel is preached everywhere all over the world today. It is a testimony of who Jesus is and what He has done. If you choose to believe in the gospel then you will have an encounter with Jesus just as this criminal did. It was a life changing encounter and ushered him into heaven despite a life of crime.

The Roman Soldier

Matt 45:54 NLT

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

 47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

 50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

 54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

This man was impacted by an encounter with Jesus because of the supernatural nature of the episode. As this soldier, a leader of 100 Roman soldiers, watched the death of Jesus he saw darkness fall across the land from noon until 3pm, an earthquake took place and rocks slit apart all around them. All that they saw at the time led them to make the conclusion that “This man truly was the Son of God.”

There are plenty of miracles taking place around here. People are receiving healings, prayers are answered and lives changed as people reach out to God. If you want to see the supernatural evidence of Jesus Christ, just come along to your local church and see the hand of God touching lives.

Whether you believe in Jesus because of the the gospel story or whether you believe because you have seen the power of God at work, either way let your choice be to encounter Jesus this Easter.  This is a life changing encounter. You will never be the same and you will be grateful throughout all of eternity for the day you decided to believe in Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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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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FAITH SHARING #4AM Faith-440x330

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It matters what you believe!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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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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