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YOUR PLACE IN THE NATION – 3 JULY 2016 AM banner_PRAY4AUS_web_1200x628_1605

Today we begin a series on prayer through July 2016. I would like to open by reading Winston Churchill’s speech from the Second World War. Winston Churchill’s speech ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ is one of the defining speeches during the second world war. It uses the technique of repetition to very good effect.

Winston Churchill – 4 June 1940

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,

we shall fight on the seas and oceans,

we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,

we shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

The context was war. The threat is very real and very serious. This is how we as Christians here in Australia must perceive and understand the situation within our own nation. Think about the spiritual condition of the nation. We are at war with satan, with spiritual forces that want to remove the gospel and the power of God from the nation and reduce Christianity to a powerless religion. Is that what you want? If not then this is a rallying cry for all of us and for anyone who will hear.

The result of this speech of Winston Churchill was to unite the people of Great Britain to call them to action and to give them a belief that the victory as achievable.

There is no complaining in this time of focus, no focus on the small things that seem inconvenient. The focus is now on the main thing that really matters. They understood the threat, they knew their job, and they chose to never give up.

There is a spirit realm, and we live in it we are surrounded by it. It is always active and always talking to us. We must not be ignorant of the devil’s devices. Many Christian’s live their daily lives oblivious to the activity of the spirit realm around them. Powerless to recognise it, and powerless to shift it or change situations and circumstances affected by it. Instead God calls us to rule and reign with Him in it! We are people of authority! Do you wield that authority?

Ephes 6:12 AMP

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

Luke 10:19 AMP

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

There is an enemy. A decline in the power and effectiveness of Christianity in Australia shows that the enemy has won some victories. The church needs a renewal, a boost to revive the life and power of the church. Godlessness abounds through the efforts of some to redefine marriage, promote the extremely ungodly Safe Schools Program and understanding that in Victoria we have the worst Abortion laws in the western world.

Your job or role is to influence the spirit realm not to let it influence you. HOW?

We must pray! Never feel that your prayers are powerless or worthless. You can move mountains when you pray. What convinces you? Satan’s message that prayer is boring, irrelevant and powerless OR God’s prompting of the Holy Spirit in your life saying, “All men aught always to pray and not give up!”  God calls us to pray.

2 Chron 7:14 AMP

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

ONE Thing I want you to know – YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THINGS

Through Worship – Remember the story of Jehoshaphat. Through declaration – Say to this mountain – Mark 11:23 AMP

Think about your family today, is it where it should be?  If not do not despair, it can change. It’s time to pray, and to pray with a real belief that you can make a difference and things will change. This month we will be seeking to inspire you the ray and to discover the power that you have in prayer.

Think about your church. It’s time to pray for revival. To pray for souls, miracles and money. To have a passion for the church as a whole and your church here at Plenty Valley. What we long to see is many people coming to Christ. Pray for the people you know and are close to. Pray for this local area.

Think about your nation. Pray for the rise of the church. That Christianity will be leading and influencing in this land. That we will experience righteousness in the land.

ONE thing that I believe we can do as a result of this message is – PRAY – In your world – Make time – For example think how you would make time if you had a kid sick in Hospital. Pray with others   –  Get together in UC Groups, at Church Mon-Fri 6-7am, at Church – Sunday 31st 12.30 – 1 hour.

Listen to the words of Jesus today, “Will you not watch (pray) with me one hour?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Describe your prayer practice in an average week.
  2. Why do we feel inadequate in prayer sometimes?
  3. What can we do to overcome the reluctance to pray?
  4. Work out a positive plan to pray in the UC group each time you meet.
  5. What goal can you set to pray in your own personal time between now and next time you meet at UC group?

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jesus on crossDEEPER THINGS – THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

Sunday 20th March 2016 AM service.

Leading up to Easter the message of the cross is vital to every person both Christian and non-Christian alike. What is the cross all about? What is the message or the preaching of the cross telling me?

1 Corinthians 1:18 (AMP)

For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.

All over the world in almost every place the symbol of the cross is universal in its recognition as the symbol of Christianity. Many people have a cross around their necks, others tattooed on their bodies, and still others have a form of it on their walls or carved into woodwork.

The cross is an instrument of death. It is a cruel and grotesque example of torturous, grizzly and bloody scene of death that the Romans used extensively, but was invented by the Persians around 500 BC. The torturous death by crucifixion was such a despised form of cruelty that usually only slaves were crucified and not Roman citizens unless they had committed serious crimes against the state such as high treason.

The scene of the crucifixion of Jesus was a problem for the early church because it showed a picture of the central figure of the faith being the subject of the most humiliating and degrading death. Cicero for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”  How could someone honour and revere Jesus after such a humiliating death? How can a Jew or Gentile, who both have cultural reasons for rejecting Jesus, accept that He is one to be followed, worshipped and adored after that kind of grizzly end?

We see Paul’s response to this objection shows in the verse above as he declares that the preaching of the cross has a double meaning. For those who are perishing through lack of revelation, it is foolishness, but to those who have been enlightened through revelation of the necessity of the cross, it is a message of life. He found it such a compelling subject that he wrote, “for I made the decision to know nothing [that is, to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while] among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified [and the meaning of His redemptive, substitutionary death and His resurrection]. I Cor 2:2 AMP

Even today the scene of the cross, so bloody and so cruel forces people to see Jesus as the victim of mindless cruelty; perhaps a case of a righteous man struggling against oppression. The Jesus that most people want to follow is the one that was kind to others, spoke of love and accepted the unacceptable. Yet the modern world equally has a difficulty with accepting the death of one so right and so good. Why was this necessary? Is it just another case of shooting the messenger? While the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, little is understood of its true meaning as part of God’s plan in rescuing mankind and setting them free from the crushing effects of sin on the individual and on the society.

What is the cross to you?  Is it any more than the way Jesus died?

God our heavenly father planned for the crucifixion of Jesus long ago. The Old Testament reference in Deut 21:22 AMP refers to anyone that is hung upon a tree is cursed, is picked up by Paul in Galatians when he recalls that “Christ purchased our freedom and redeemed us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs [crucified] on a tree (cross)Gal 3:13 AMP

From the beginning Jesus death was the plan of God. There had to be the shedding of blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This is so because God says the life is in the blood, be it animal or man. Jesus could not have been strangled, or met with any death other than by the loss of blood.

Jesus death was a substitutionary death because He was the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world.  This title of Jesus was clear to any Jew and now to any student of the bible that the lamb was a substitute in the exodus story. Either the lamb died and its blood was placed over the door of the home or the angel of death came and killed the first born. Then right through the Old Testament a lamb was an animal of sacrifice whose blood was shed to atone for the sins of the bearer of the lamb.

And so Jesus died and shed His blood, but not just any death, He died in a way that’s described as the worst of the worst. Is was so bad that good roman citizens wouldn’t discuss it because it was so barbaric. It was for the torture and annihilation of slaves and only the very worst of criminals.  It was a humiliating death because the subject is stripped naked and the death is long and extremely painful. Jesus was humiliated – He was brought low as Isaiah says “despised and rejected by men.” And took upon Himself the form of a servant. Jesus who was the king, the creator of the universe was humbled so totally and so completely at the cross because there was no limits to His love, His gift His giving of Himself. This level of suffering and humiliation corresponds to the depth of depravity of mankind in rebellion against God.(Galli 2016) It shows just how bad things really are with us. Can we behold the cross and not say, “He did it for me”?

The cross is confronting. Can anyone of us dare say there’s nothing wrong with mankind? Can we dare say there’s only love and kindness in the world? Are we so proud and blinded to reality that we say like some prideful individuals, “There’s plenty of evil men in the world, but I am not one of them!”  Could any one of us open all our lives and our inner thoughts to the whole world for scrutiny and not be ashamed of some part of it? The bible is brief but kind when it says, “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.”

When we behold the cross and see it for what it truly is. The sentence of death that we all deserve and by His great love, it is the death of Jesus as my substitute that means I can go free; fully pardoned because my sins have been punished and paid for in Jesus. If I believe in Jesus Christ and humble my heart in repentance, I can receive forgiveness and be saved from my sins.

When we see the cross, it moves us, and we long to sing as Isaac Watts wrote in 1707:

   When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

   Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

   See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

   Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

But the cross is so much more than atonement and forgiveness of sin as wonderful as that is. The cross is the power over sin. It is the victory God gave us to conquer sin. Not just a constant washing away of sins, but the doing away with the body of sin, the destruction of the inner nature of sin leaving us with a totally new nature. Becoming a new creation.

Let’s look carefully at Romans 6:6-13 AMP

6 We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. 7 For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.

 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, 9 because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin [ending its power and paying the sinner’s debt] once and for all; and the life that He lives, He lives to [glorify] God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. 11 Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts and passions.

What does the cross mean to you? It means the forgiveness of sin and pardon from the just penalty due to me. It is also the instrument of the death of my old life, by which I leave behind my sinful ways and desires and so begin a new life. The cross gives me power over sin and it is the doorway to a new kind of life now living as a new creation becoming more like Jesus every day.

We pray that God gives us a revelation of the cross and all that it means. We pray that we understand our total lostness without Christ. We pray that we understand how broken and how far from God each and every person is without Christ. We pray that we all come to understand that the gift of love God gave us in sending His own Son to the cross is mind-blowing and so significant and shows us His amazing love. We pray that we all fully enter into that revelation that the old life we had before we met Jesus was rubbish and God crucified it in Jesus on the same cross so that we might die to sin and not live any longer in it.

In this week leading up to Easter, Read Romans 6, pray on it and ask for revelation; and tell others how great and how vast is the love God has for them and how they can have a new life in Jesus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why do you think the preaching of the cross is foolishness to people who are not believers?
  2. what are two important points you got from this message?
  3. Is you old life dead now or does it still try and rise from the dead to control you?
  4. How do we “reckon ourselves dead” as Romans 6:11 says?
  5. How would you pray about the cross when applying this truth of overcoming sin through the cross?

GALLI, M 2016, ‘WHY THE CROSS’, Christianity Today, 60, 2, pp. 34-39, Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 March 2016.

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Presentation1

FAITH ACTIVATION #3 AM

Welcome to your commissioning briefing.  I have called you all in here this morning for a very important reason. You have been selected for activation by the highest authority to fulfil the mission that you have been trained for since you were reprogrammed. At this initiation point you will be given the activation trigger code to unlock the infiltration skills to enable you to do maximum danger the enemy’s assets both here in Australia and overseas.  You are now in full activation phase. Your life is not your own, you are now active agents on assignment with no turning back. Your mission is chosen, your training is complete and I will now read the activation code.

Matthew 28:19-20 (AMP)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”

WATCH THIS VIDEO

Every committed Christian is an embedded agent. Living as part of the culture in which they will be released to bring kingdom outcomes for God’s purpose. Some Christian’s wrongly believe they are sleeper agents just waiting, sometimes for many years, before being activated for their ultimate purpose. There are no sleeper agents in God’s kingdom; only the trained and equipped agents who are embedded into every corner of the society to release the power of God’s love and His message to the nation.

For three years the disciples lived with Jesus, walked where he walked and learned the skills of ministry. It wasn’t hard, but it required faith because they were called upon to do impossible things; to change people’s lives and to engage a supernatural enemy. It wasn’t very long before their first assignment.

The Twelve Sent Out  – Mark 6:7-13 AMP

7 And He called the twelve [disciples] and began to send them out [as His special messengers] two by two, and gave them authority and power over the unclean spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for the journey except a mere walking stick—no bread, no [traveler’s] bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals; and [He told them] not to wear [d]two tunics. 10 And He told them, “Wherever you go into a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 Any place that does not welcome you or listen to you, when you leave there, [e]shake the dust off the soles of your feet as a testimony against them [breaking all ties with them because they rejected My message].” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent [that is, think differently, recognize sin, turn away from it, and live changed lives]. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many who were sick, and healing them.

The Seventy Sent Out – Luke 10:1-12 AMP

10 Now after this the Lord appointed [a]seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. 2 He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. 3 Go your way; listen carefully: I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not carry a money belt, a provision bag, or [extra] sandals; and do not [b]greet anyone along the way [who would delay you]. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘[c]Peace [that is, a blessing of well-being and prosperity, the favor of God] to this house.’ 6 And if anyone of peace is there [someone who is sweet-spirited and hospitable], your [blessing of] peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not move from house to house. 8 Whenever you go into a city and they welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick [authenticating your message], and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you [breaking all ties]; yet understand this, that the kingdom of God has come near [and you rejected it].’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable in that day [of judgment] for Sodom than for that city.

Your assignment is to bring visitors to this December’s Sunday meetings. You have eight opportunities in December to invite and bring along people you know and people you don’t know to listen to the most powerful love story ever told.  Four Sundays plus Christmas day service (No night meeting on 27th December)

You have three weapons, Specific invites, General invites and witnessing tracts.

You have the power of the Holy Spirit. Now all you need is the boldness and excitement to begin your assignment. The old spy movies used to say at this point, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it is…” But we cannot say that because you accepted the mission a long time ago when you gave your life to Christ.

Let’s see what happened when the disciples went out on their first mission.

The Joyous Results – Luke 10:17-22 AMP

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like [a flash of] lightning. 19 Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on [d]serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

21 In that very hour He was overjoyed and rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and He said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things [relating to salvation] from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants [the childlike and untaught]. Yes, Father, for this way was [Your gracious will and choice, and was] well-pleasing in Your sight. 22 All things have been transferred and turned over to Me by My Father and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.”

Imagine Jesus being overjoyed as you fulfil your mission?

Here are your key ignition point tools, the phrases you can use to bring people to church for Christmas.

  1. “Will you come over to my place for Christmas”
  2. Can I pray for you? (At the time when they speak about a difficulty they have)
  3. You like love stories?
  4. Have you ever been to a church where very new person received a gift?

The time for your release has come. You are full of the Holy Spirit. Believe for God to move when you pray for people. Ask for miracles, and expect great things.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What do you believe your assignment is?
  2. Do you know about the power you have from the Holy Spirit?
  3. Everyone feels afraid when they begin, so how will you overcome that?
  4. Have you got the materials for making an invitation? (Church invites, tracts etc)
  5. Will you come back next meeting and share what happened when you invited people to the Christmas services?

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Nation Changing Faith

Here’s a story about Nation Changing Faith.

1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLENTY VALLEY CHURCH VISION – CLEAR PICTURE OF A PREFERRED FUTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil 3:13-15 AMP

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

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

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

What am I doing to press toward the goal?

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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NATION CHANGING FAITH #2PMSmall Nation Changing

John 3:36 NLT

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

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

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

Luke 24:47-49 NLT

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was a life changing experience at salvation.

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

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

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

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

There’s a motivation to serve Him.

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

There was an ethic to work hard.

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the hand of God on his servant Daniel.

Daniel 6:1-10  NLT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel 6:25-27  NLT

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

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

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

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

If the vision for Australia for Christ has touched your heart, then respond by doing these things:

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

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

 

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FAITH SHARING #4AM Faith-440x330

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It matters what you believe!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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