Monday, March 25, 2019
Paul and Debbie Howells talk about the importance of community development that the Lord has had us do over more than 30 years. They acknowledge the importance of their reliance on the Lord as they ministered in the mission field.
Sunday, March 24, 2019
We need to bear witness of God's grace. Let us pray that we are faithful witnesses. To finish the course, we must keep the finish line fully in our sight. We want to be the faithful person to the Gospel of grace.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Bible reference: Acts 20:22-24
Some tele-evangelists seem to portray that being a Christian makes everything great. But Scripture doesn't line up with this thinking.
People hated Jesus. We enter by the narrow gate.
Everyone has a ministry. It is a 24/7 ministry. God has given every Christian a ministry of reconciliation. We are conscripts, not volunteers. We obey God. Ananias went when the Lord directed him to go to Paul. Paul went as the Lord directed him. Why didn't Paul think that these afflictions seemed easy. He didn't see himself as a volunteer but as a servant, a soldier, there under orders to serve his Commander.
Example: Chaplin McKenzie (in first world war). He served his Commander, Jesus Christ on the battlefield.
Scripture does not call us volunteers. The problem is that volunteers can choose to serve, not to serve, or leave all together. Conscripts obey. Jesus goes with us, to toughen up. If we don't toughen up, we will fall over. If you're drafted into the army, someone saw something in you.
We obey orders, even on the front line. It takes a lot of nerve, it's frightening, but we serve anyway, because we are under orders. Jesus went on the cross, he sweated blood.
We live in a country where it's easy, but one day it will change. Soldier's are under orders. They are not free to quit. Sometimes you get hurt; toughen up. Police, firefighters put their lives on the line, it's tough.
When people don't want to hear the Gospel message it can be tough. We're not to quit. Our job is not to build big churches, great programs, traveling the world; our job is to tell about Jesus Christ.
To finish the course, you must recognize that you are a conscript. Jesus paid for our sin. Don't fall into the trap of looking at your sin. Obey Jesus. To find out how good Jesus is, you have to get to know him.
Jesus is the driver of our motor vehicle in our life. You can't get to an intersection and fight over the wheel.
Paul was willing to die for the Saviour. God is still calling us to take the Message to a world that needs it.
People think that one option in becoming a Christian you can go to church occasionally, enjoy your life, accumulate stuff, volunteer a little, someday go to heaven.
But Paul didn't have that option. He gave up everything, time, money, stuff, own choices. Some people give up all the comforts of Australia and go across the world or around our own country. They give up all to obey and deny ourselves to do the will of the Lord.
Jesus called people to radical self-denial. Jesus has a different view, a different way of doing things. He's calling us to his cause. He calls all of his people to be super committed.
Revelation 3:16 - people who are lukewarm won't be there.
There are lots of people who have been killed for Jesus Christ. Be thankful that someone cared to tell you about Jesus. It will mean hardship at some level. It may mean people will chuck off at you, you may miss out on promotions, be subject to abuse. We will suffer affliction. But then comes the glory of God.
Why do I want to sign my life to Jesus if I will suffer affliction? Well the world is short term, but forever is a long time. Once you give your life to Jesus, you don't have to fear.
You will live either with Jesus forever or live forever apart from Him. For Christian's we don't face separation from God, we live each day for our Lord.
We must live in light of eternity, real glory comes when we are with God on heaven.
Live totally abandoned to Jesus.
To finish the course, you are a conscript not a volunteer. GOD CHOSE YOU out of all the people in the world.
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Bible reference: Acts 20:24
In life, it's easy to start something new. A new diet, an exercise program, a new job, new relationships, a new beginning. But life isn't a 50 yard dash, but a marathon. There are lots of good starters, but poor finishers. I have known many who have started well with a bang, but finish with a whimper.
People start with a bang, then get hit with criticism. There are lots of people who say things that put you down. Sometimes the stress spills over into marriage and cause problems. People sometimes leave ministry with a broken heart. Paul did not want this to happen to the elders in Ephesus. He wants us to reach the finish line. Paul was sharing from his own life the trials and perseverance. 2 Timothy 4:7
Paul in Acts 20:24 had a difficult task. Paul did not consider his own life more important than what Jesus called him to. He put his trust in Jesus. God is in control, that's all we need to know. God is most important on your life. You may think I'm ordinary, it doesn't apply to me, but it does.
To finish the course, you must recognize and accept he has given you a ministry. It's not a 50 m dash, it's for life. There is no such thing as a Christian without a ministry. It is significant that every time the subject of spiritual gifts is mentioned, the words "every, all" are there. Every Christian will give an account to God for their gifts and ministry.
Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:10
Every parent is given the responsibility to steward your child/ren up. We give an account to God one day.
Bible Reference: Matthew 25:14-30
Whether you are a waiter, mechanic, housewife, carpenter, etc., you are in ministry. Ministry is a way of thinking that permeates through all our life; it's the way we live. It may mean serving someone with a practical need, sharing the Gospel, prayer, minister through the Word. First in our life is God, then marriage, then family, etc.
With God we minister. One of the things that have happened in church life, we think preaching or singing is ministry, but ministry is relationship- serving others. Ministry- focus on others instead of ourselves. The world seems crazy but God is in control. We don't focus on self but others and we're available to God. It will change your life, the way you think, act.
You follow what God wants and he will give you what you need. God will see all the brokenness but he will see you are available, and he will use you to fulfill his purposes. Everyone has fundamental beliefs, make sure they are in line with God.
You won't fulfill your ministry unless you are aware that you have one.2 Corinthians- ministry of reconciliation.
God doesn't think you're too busy to serve him. Your ministry will become part of your life. It doesn't mean you're exceptional, you need to tell people about Jesus.
If you don't tell people about Jesus, then don't winge about how our country is going. Church is a place we meet because we know Jesus. Church is not the most important thing. We come together because we have something in common. We must recognize that God has entrusted the ministry to you. Our life, who we are, matters.
We have to recognize we have a ministry. The church is the people of God. The building is a resource given by God, but the people are the church.
Next week- you are a conscript, not a volunteer.
We are to be ministers of the Word. Paul wasn't a volunteer, he was a conscript. Ministry is not a good idea, it's a way of life. Paul was compelled to live out his ministry.
We all have a ministry - the ministry of reconciliation. We are all called to be an Ambassador for God.
Monday, March 4, 2019
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-5
In this prophetic scripture, we see the ministry of Christ attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit when it says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me.” By the empowering of the Spirit, Jesus was sent forth to ‘preach good tidings to the poor, the humble, etc.’
This refers to the gospel of salvation. “And Jesus went about all the cities and village…preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” Matthew 9:35
This good news of salvation would be received by those who admitted their spiritual bankruptcy. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Also, Jesus was sent to heal the broken hearted. The heart of man can be broken by so many things: condemnation, grief, betrayal, and more. Jesus comforts and restores those who trust in Him. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Additionally, Jesus was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”. As with captive Israel of old, people today get into bondage to the world system. They become captivated by worldly thinking, bound by bad habits, and imprisoned by ungodly relationships or drugs etc.
Jesus is the great liberator for all who cry out to Him and look to His inspired word. John 8:32 you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Furthermore, Jesus was sent to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Ultimately, this speaks of the entire age of grace, where lives are accepted by God through faith in His Son and enriched by Christ with immeasurable spiritual riches.
Ephesian 1:3-6, “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory.”
We are also sent to minister. It is your ministry – God does not just appoint pastors to preach to the world. Pastors are to preach and teach God’s people as God instructs so they can do their work of ministry. Shepherds lead sheep, but sheep breed sheep.
John 20:21, “Jesus says, As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
As it was with Jesus, we can only fulfil our calling by the same Holy Spirit who empowered His ministry and by obeying His call.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Bible references: 2 Thes 1:5; Genesis 7:11; John 17:21-23; Isaiah 60:1-4;
When God appears from Heaven, his glory will appear through his saints. The windows of heaven will be opened. The glory of his saints will go up and His glory will come down. All the earth will know. His glory will be seen everywhere in His people. The nations of the earth will behold the glory of God.
John 17:21-23 - as His people, we have been given God's glory. Isaiah 60:1-4 We shall come to God's glory. Jesus died upon the cross to pay for your sin and to bring you to perfection. There is coming a time, when the saints will be taken out of the earth. It's then that the saints will be in authority; we will be in God's glory. Now we know affliction, but it's coming to an end.
Jesus can change us. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 - He is making us fit to share in his kingdom. At some point in history, the nations of the earth will give account to God for how they treated God's people.
Reference: Lazarus and the Rich Man
2 Thessalonians 1:10
We experience the judgement first. People tried to trick Jesus. They try to trick us now. Churches are a mixture of righteousness and sin; why? Because we are in it. From now until the Lord appears, the church will experience every form of testing. It's about how the Lord works in us, even in our testing. Purpose? Purified and in unified body - Church; the saints; those who call Jesus Christ Lord.
Isaiah 4:2-4; Zechariah 13:9 We, the Lords people will be refined like silver, and purified like gold.
2 Problems for the Church:
1. Great Tribulation
2. The hour of temptation
The hour of temptation- we need to be watching, waiting, connected to Christ. We need to be careful to not let having things, pleasure, money become what we follow after. Never before have we lived in a world where temptation is so prevalent. Because people have become lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God, people get concerned about great Tribulation. But we need to be about God. Listen to Christ, draw to closer to him, go after the things of God. It's very easy to be deceived. We need to escape this trend, but go after God. Keep our focus right, otherwise we will be overcome. Jesus won't be Glorified in things, in the world; but in His saints.
We have two choices in life - one is we follow the Lord; the other is that we walk away.
Monday, February 18, 2019
Water. An essential part of life. For people, for animals and for plants. Water is even essential for fish and marine life.
Water is often spoken about in the Bible. Sometimes water is referred to as life giving, refreshing. Sometimes it’s referred to as being in cisterns. What is a cistern? It’s a storage facility to hold water. Places that have cisterns hold the water for the dry times, or times of siege. Cisterns are not life giving. They often hold stale, still, stagnant water.
“…In the Middle East, water is scarce and precious, and very much needed for survival. Only a few months of the year does rain fall in Israel, and the rest of the time the ancient peoples survived on stagnant water that was stored in cisterns in the ground. When rain does fall after many months of clear blue skies, it seems to be a miraculous gift from God.
The difference with or without rain in Israel is amazing – the hills can be barren and brown much of the year, but after a season of rain, covered in green meadows and flowers. Where there are rivers, lush vegetation surrounds them, while only yards away, all is barren…” http://ourrabbijesus.com/articles/living-water/
Psalm 42:1-2, refers how like a deer, David longed for the refreshing water; thirsting for God. Perhaps he was thinking of a cool refreshing place such as En Gedi where there is a beautiful oasis in the desert. Green life, cool water, clean, a wonderful place that a person longs for after being in the desert places and drinking from cisterns.
Water that is clean, clear and running is life giving. Water stored where it doesn’t move, is not life giving. Sure you can survive, but it doesn’t refresh you. In John chapter 4, Jesus interacts with a woman at a well. Her culture and faith was different to Jesus’. She was called a Samaritan. Yet, this nameless woman longed for clear, refreshing, life giving water. In her life – physically and spiritually. Jesus shares with her, that he is the one who provides life-giving water.
“This image of living water is therefore an important feature of the ministry of Jesus. In the book of John, he explains that he is the one who truly brings living water into the world. He says to the Samaritan woman,
Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. (John 4:13-14)
And later, during the feast of Sukkot, on the last and greatest day, when the prayers of Israel were an impassioned plea for God to bless them with rain, Jesus stood up and shouted, saying,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this he spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37 – 39)”. Reference: http://ourrabbijesus.com/articles/living-water/
When we pursue substitutes for God, they take over and we are not refreshed. What are substitutes? Career, relationships, money, possessions, friendships that take over a more important role than God, behaviors, judgmental attituded (I don’t need to attend church because I’ve grown more… ☹) alcohol, drugs. What happens when we pursue these things and not a relationship with Jesus who brings life and refreshment?
Psalm 63 is written by David and he recalls how he longs for God like he longs for water in a dry and barren land.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
In 1 Samuel 23 we read that King Saul is pursuing David in order to kill him and after David had been hiding in the desert, he went to the strongholds of En Gedi. At EnGedi there is water, clean, refreshing water.
“Even though there are many springs around the Dead Sea, most of them have a high salt content. En Gedi is one of only two fresh water springs located on the western shore of the Dead Sea and, because of the greater availability of land for agriculture at En Gedi, it is the best spring by which to settle.
Josephus praised En Gedi for its palm trees and balsam, and the writer of Ecclesiasticus spoke of wisdom that was exalted like a palm tree in En Gedi” (24:14). One day, the prophet Ezekiel predicted, fishermen would line the shores of the Dead Sea by En Gedi (47:10). Around 1000 BC, En Gedi served as one of the main places of refuge for David as he fled from Saul. David “dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi” (1 Sam 23:29). En Gedi means literally “the spring of the kid (goat).” Evidence exists that young ibex have always lived near the springs of En Gedi. One time when David was fleeing from King Saul, the pursuers searched the “Crags of the Ibex” in the vicinity of En Gedi. In a cave near here, David cut off the corner of Saul’s robe (1 Sam 24).”
Often in our walk with the Lord, we can become dry, weary and worn. God can bring healing life and refreshment to our lives when we go to the place of En Gedi. We are to be refreshed and then go out and share God’s living water with people. If we are going to bring life and refreshment to the world, we need to be deeply fixed and established in God and His Word.
Psalm 1 tells us, ”Great blessings belong to those who don’t listen to evil advice, who don’t live like sinners, and who don’t join those who make fun of God. Instead, they love the Lord’s teachings and think about them day and night. So they grow strong, like a tree planted by a stream— a tree that produces fruit when it should and has leaves that never fall. Everything they do is successful.” Psalm 1:1-3 (ERV)
Otherwise, we are trying to share the Good news in our strength and we will be cistern building. We won’t bring refreshment but stagnant, stale water. Instead of bringing hope, we will bring rules. Instead of a relationship with Jesus Christ, a long list of religious “to do’s” that even we cannot keep.
“For I will pour out water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water.” (Isaiah 44:3 – 4)
How will we grow strong, like a tree planted by a stream? Spend time with God and His Word and then go out in the power of the Holy Spirit to share how Jesus has changed your life from a dry, broken, lost person to one who has hope and future.
We also need to be aware that’s it’s tempting to stay at En Gedi. Life with refreshement, encouragement. But we are called to go out into the desert and bring the message that God loves people and Jesus Christ died to save them, so they too can come to En Gedi and be refreshed with God’s life-giving water.
How do we live? Is it in such a way that brings life? Or do we cause others to stumble in the dryness of the desert by our attitudes of judgement and self-superiority? Do we impact our Culture so they seek Jesus or do we impact our culture to turn people away? Are we refreshing, life-giving people who seek to help, care and put others needs before our own? Or are we cistern building by bringing a list of do’s and don’ts that even we can’t keep? Is our focus on how Jesus sees the people around us or is our focus on how much better we perceive ourselves to be?
What is the tragedy of turning away from God and depending on our own cisterns?
Jeremiah 14:1-3 “This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought: Judah mourns, her cities languish; they wail for the land, and a cry goes up from Jerusalem. The nobles send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns but find no water. They return with their jars unfilled; dismayed and despairing, they cover their heads.”
Let’s not depend on our own cisterns and strength, this will dry up. Let’s depend on God’s life-giving water that brings refreshment, hope and peace. Let’s seek to build our relationship with Jesus Christ who brings us living water.
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Bible Reference: Ephesians 4:1-16
God equips and gifts people to do functions in Church so that people can grow up and become mature people in the Lord. Then we grow the body of Christ.
Hebrews 6:1 - going onto maturity
We're to stop going over basic teachings and grow up. When a family doesn't grow up, it goes everywhere and broken. Each person of the family are to contribute. Growing Up takes time and it can be wonderful. Being human want to speed up the process and we in the West, want it now. It's a lifetime journey where we develop and grow. People won't remember what you owned but will remember what you contributed. At the core of this journey are disciplines.
We are the sum of our habits. People will know and remember what you do over what you say.
Facts v Truth. God is not a fact but Truth. People need to learn to practice habits that become part of their daily life. We focus on four (4) spiritual habits. Romans 12:1-2, do not conform to the habits of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Worthwhile and important to growing up.
John 8:31-32; to find truth, read the Bible daily. The truth sets us free. Let God validate your life, you will find meaning.
● Read the Bible daily. Encourage one another to read Bible regularly, daily. It's a worthwhile habit to invest in.
● Pray daily. Disciples spend time with Jesus. John 15:7-8 Let God's Holy Spirit reveal the truth of His Word to you. We listen to God through His Word and talk with God through prayer. Too often people think the Church should build me. But you are part of building the Church up and encouraging one another. What I do with my life matters to the people around me. We grow up to walk with the Lord and build the Church. We are the Church.
● Tithing. We need to give. Giving reminds us that everything we own and are is God's. Genesis 14:18-24 If you don't think you are God's, try taking your next breath without him. Too many people are totally possessed by their possessions. Learning to give helps people to let go of possessions. Don't give to Church organisations. Give to God. Grown up people are able to help others and you become strong. Giving is very important because everything we own is God's.
● We need Jesus and our fellow Christians to grow up. Jesus saves us. Call on Jesus to be saved. We need to fellowship, sharpen each other. Significant relationships don't develop once a week. We are to fellowship daily. We don't build an organisation, we build an organism. Families are to encourage each other, build relationships. People need opportunities to talk to fellow believers to grow.
There are no shortcuts to growing up. We might be concerned about the time but God is concerned about how mature people become.
Hebrews 4:12 - The Holy Scriptures are the Word of God. The Scriptures through the Holy Spirit, comfort, counsel, guide, encourage and open up the Word to the believer.
Learn these habits and you find your life changed. You will grow like a maple tree not a mushroom.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Isaiah 9:6-7; Philippians 2:9-11
God justifies us and makes us right with him - Through Jesus Christ.
In heaven, one King, one Lord, one overall. It is He who makes you for and ready for heaven.
References: Romans 3:23
We can only receive faith in Jesus Christ who is the only one who can save us.
Worship with humble hearts because He chose us to be his own.
We can't do this by ourselves, or our parents.
Your spirit was created to live forever. Your choice is to live with God or separated from him. Since God has called us, to glory and He is preparing us. We have no right to judge another, but to love one another.
All the hardship and suffering in this life will be worth it. One day everyone will bow at the feet of Jesus Christ and acknowledge him as Lord and Saviour.
We live in this world and it's fallen. We live in a land that is peaceful but churches in Australia will come under great persecution. Suffering to purify and unify the Church. The body of Christ being made fit to live in the New Jerusalem. People may pick on us, continue to stay true to the testimony of Christ in us. 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Your testimony- is not just important but worthwhile.
Be like a squirrel or a beaver. Working together, using our gifts to build up the church. God wants us to be Awake! Not slumbering.
1 Thessalonians 1 & 2 - talks about the official return of the Lord Jesus.
Rev 1:7 - we need to be Awake! not asleep.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 - faith through suffering. God judges fairly and making us fit to share in his glory. God is our defender - he will punish those who hate us. We are to live with the Lord daily. He will bring us relief. God is judge. Those who choose not to accept the gospel will be shut put from his presence. Christian people will suffer until Jesus Christ returns. We live in this world.
Come Lord Jesus!