A Beginner’s Course

Rev. John Willoughby

BEGINNERS DISCIPLESHIP COURSE.

(Unless otherwise stated, Scripture is translated from the New Living Translation.)

GENEROSITY – 15

Jn 3:16. God has put into motion spiritual laws, which govern life – one of these is the law of generosity. It teaches us that, “whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (II Cor 9:6).

1. PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD.

The Bible says, “We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building – not ours” (I Cor 3:9). It is important for us to understand where our responsibilities lie.

a) Ownership of all – is with God. I Chron 29:10-12. The Bible says, “The heavens are Yours and the earth is Yours; everything in the world is Yours – You created it all” (Ps 89:11). Everything belongs to God, including all we have – possessions, careers, families. He has given us all of these things to enjoy (I Tim 6:17), however, when we realise that they still belong to Him, we can rest in the assurance that God also has ultimate responsibility for them.

b) Stewardship of what we have – is with us. I Cor 6:19-20. Unlike an owner, a steward manages that which belongs to someone else. Therefore as God’s stewards we have an obligation to be faithful in taking care of all we have for Him and He will hold us responsible for this (Mt 25:14-30). When we understand the Owner-steward relationship it becomes easy to give. Before God, stewardship covers every single thing that belongs to us – our time (Col 4:5), our talents and abilities (I Pet 4:10), our possessions (Mt 6:19-21), our finances (Mt 6:24) and the message of the Gospel (I Cor 9:16-17). Many Christians still struggle to tithe, but the action that releases us into the full blessings of good stewardship is surrender – the unreserved submission of one’s entire life, possessions and plans to God’s will and purpose.

2. GENEROSITY IN THE EARLY CHURCH.

Acts 2:44-45. 4:32. The attitude of the early Christians laid the foundation for every expression of giving that was to come later. It expressed their understanding of stewardship – that everything ultimately belongs to God and the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) became a reality.

a) They supported the needy. Acts 6:1-3. Special men were chosen to serve as deacons, who made it their ministry to channel all the giving to where there was a practical need.

b) They gave sacrificially to one another. II Cor 8:1-4. When some Christians were in need, others supported them.

* They worked to be able to give. Eph 4:28.

* Giving was the proof of their love. I Jn 3:17-18.

c) They supported ministries. Phil 4:15-18. The Apostle Paul, while travelling to establish new churches, sometimes worked with his hands to provide his own support (II Thess 3:7-9). On other occasions the Christians showed the true spirit of giving, which God commends, by supporting him and other ministries.

3/. GOD’S PRINCIPLES OF GENEROSITY.

In I Cor 10:11, we are told to learn fromIsrael’s example and to apply the principles given them by God, avoiding their mistakes and rebellion. In the area of giving, we find some excellent guidelines in the Old Testament that can help us today.

a) God expects us to tithe of our income. Mal 3:8-12. Let us note from these verses that we “rob God”, if we do not tithe (v8) and the result of this is a “curse” (v9). If we “bring all the tithes into the storehouse” (church which we attend), great blessings result (v10-12). Jesus said, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Lk 6:38).

b) We are to give the first and best to the Lord. Prov 3:9-10. Under the old covenant when offering sacrifices to the Lord, they always needed to give an animal, which was without blemish – the best of their flocks. How much more so do we, who live under a “better covenant” need to give our best. The Bible says, “a generous man devises generous things and by generosity he shall stand” (Is 32:8).

MY COMMITMENT.

I realize the importance of having a generous heart and attitude towards others. Today I commit myself to begin a life of giving, by starting to tithe (a tenth of my income) to the Lord’s work. I will also encourage and teach others to do the same.

 

 

 

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Message by the late David Wilkerson

Rev. David Wilkerson

GOD’S GREAT CONCERN

In the midst of this worldwide “shaking of all things,” what is God’s great concern in all of this? Is it on the events of the Middle East? No. The Bible tells us God’s vision is trained on his children: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 33:18).

Our Lord is aware of every move on the earth, by every living thing. And yet his gaze is focused primarily on the well-being of his children. He fixes his eyes on the pains and needs of each member of his spiritual body. Simply put, whatever hurts us concerns him.

To prove this to us, Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Even in the midst of great world wars, God’s primary focus isn’t on the tyrants. His focus is on every circumstance in his children’s lives.

Christ says in the very next verse: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29). In Christ’s day, sparrows were the meat of the poor and sold two for a penny. Yet, Jesus said, “Not one of these small creatures falls to the ground without your Father knowing it.”

Jesus’ use of the word “fall” in this verse signifies more than the bird’s death. The Aramaic meaning is “to light upon the ground.” In other words, “fall” here indicates every little hop a tiny bird makes.

Christ is telling us, “Your Father’s eye is on the sparrow not just when it dies but even when it lights on the ground. As a sparrow learns to fly, it falls from the nest and begins to hop along the ground. And God sees every little struggle it has. He’s concerned over every detail of its life.”

Jesus then adds, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (10:31). Indeed, he says, “The very hairs of your head are numbered” (10:30). Simply put, the One who made and counted all the stars—who monitored every action of theRoman Empire, who keeps the galaxies in their orbits—has his eye fixed on you. And, Jesus asks, “Are you not worth much more to him?”

 

News and Views

INSPIRE AWARDS

‘JUST DOING WHAT GOD’S CALLED US TO DO

God’s at work across the UK and around the world, and just a few of the ordinary people being used to do extraordinary things told their stories at Westminster recently at the 2011 Inspire Awards.

UNSUNG Christian heroes from across theUKwere recognised for their community work at the Houses of Parliament on 15 November as the 3011 Inspire Award winners were announced.

The winners were chosen from more than 120 nominations submitted for this year’s awards ceremony, organised by inspire and the Evangelical Alliance, and celebrated at a special ceremony hosted by Christian MPs,

This year’s winners were chosen from three categories: an individual who is an inspirational role model, a church that is making a dynamic impact in its community, and a Christian-run project serving its local area.

Inspire magazine’s editor Russ Bravo said of the 2011 awards: “lt has been a privilege to find out about the way ordinary people are putting their faith in action in extraordinary ways. We’re committed to telling these kinds of inspirational stories of Christians making life better for local communities, and the Inspire Awards is a great showcase for that.”

Paul Slide, chief executive of Inspire’s publisher CPO, said: “Hearing the practical difference Christians are making at grassroots level is a huge encouragement, and genuinely inspirational. These award winners are just the tip of the iceberg – we’re looking forward to seeing a whole lot more local heroes in the future.”

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, added: It was truly humbling and inspiring to. meet, all the individuals, and representatives of churches and organisations doing amazing work in their local communities, to hear their stories and to celebrate with them.

“As Christians, we are passionate about community transformation. These fantastic, innovative projects being run up and down the UK are feeding the hungry, housing tte homeless and restoring the broken. They are just some examples of how Christians are doing great things. 

INSPIRING INDIVIDUAL

Christine Depanio

Christine Deponio runs Emmanuel House inGateshead, a free service to those suffering with terminal cancer. Despite being blind and a full-time carer to her husband, who is also blind, she single-handedly fundraises for the project, which she set up in 2003.

The project offers free lunches and physical therapy services such as massages, hair and nail care. Christine also owns three properties in the country that she lets cost-free to cancer patients and their families.

Christine said: “It was a huge surprise, it really was. I’m just doing what God wants me to do. They need someone to be here, to cry with, to laugh with, to share their hope with. That’s where I come in.”

INSPIRING CHURCH

Lifeline Church Essex

Lifeline Church,Essex, run Open Doors, a project for vulnerable and isolated women. The project was set up over 10 years ago and, by providing access to consistent friendship and a caring community, has given hope and freedom to countless women. Healthcare professionals working in the NHS mental health services regularly refer patients to Open Doors, recognising the vital role the project plays. Sally Dixon of Open Doors said: “It’s been a real surprise to get this award. We just feel like we are doing the work that God has given us to do. It’s really exciting to see somebody who’s been isolated come out of their isolation and find a place of belonging in the church family.”

INSPIRING PROJECT

Rev. Peter Cunningham

Green Pastures,Southport, started when Pastor Pete Cunningham and other church members bought a pair of flats to house and care for two homeless couples. In 2005 the local authority recognised the significance of Green Pastures when it announced that there were no longer any long-term rough sleepers inSouthport. Today Green Pastures houses more than 200 formerly homeless people.

Pete Cunningham said: “As well as caring for their physical needs we are sometimes given the privilege of leading our tenants to Jesus. In the last few years, 27 came to faith, 19 were baptised and 32 are attending local churches.”

Runners-up

Ann-Marie Wilson, founder of 28 Too Many Bournemouth Vineyard Church The Ark, Ayr

Highly commended

Kevin Vickers,Mitcham Ebenezer Church, HalifaxYkids, Bootle

Healing Testimonies

Mrs. E. Starkey

HEALED OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

At Principal George Jeffreys’ Birmingham Revival Campaign

I went to Principal George Jef­freys’ Revival Campaign meetings in Steelhouse Lane Congregational Church, and I heard of people who were being healed.

I was suffer­ing with rheumatoid arthritis of over six years’ standing, my knees were locked and I could not kneel. I was very weak, and could not do my own work; I had to have a woman in to do it. The pain was awful. I tried many things— sunray, radiant heat, brine baths. I went out for prayer, and I be­lieved the Lord would heal me.

After being prayed for He com­pletely healed me. On Whit-Sunday I stooped and something gave way under my knee. I was free. I can now kneel, and, also do my own work. I do the Lord for His goodness to me. Hallelujah!

 

Just a Thought

Rev. A. Linford

JUST A CIPHER

“I am nothing” said Paul” – 1 Corinthians 13:2*

“Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him”, wrote Martin Luther. And this is true. The other day I was reading a book by the great theologian Karl Barth. I turned to the end of the slender paper-back and saw a list of over 40 volumes, written about the work and the worth of this outstanding scholar. I burst into laughter. The thought entered my head, “No one has ever written a book about me, or is ever likely to. Outside a small circle of friends and acquaintances I am a nonentity”. Then I remembered the words of Paul – “God hath chosen …. things which are not” (1 Cor 1:28), that is men of no account. The apostle said of his ministry, “As unknown, and yet well known” (2 Cor 6:9). He was a notorious nonentity: glorious paradox.

But this is so opposite to contemporary philosophy. “Realise yourself! release yourself they cry. “You have divine potential, you are somebody, discover yourself. Paul’s conception of himself was, that apart from the grace of God he was nothing. And all his endeavour was to be what God wanted him to be. He did not want to be a big man, but to be a little man with a big God.

 

Dave’s Snippets

Dr. David Allen

RELIGION   OR   RELATIONSHIP? 

Although   it has been   claimed   that   about seventy percent of the   populace in the British Isles   still believe in God, there   has been   a steep   climb in    church   attendance in    recent years; and often   people     tend to say, “I believe in God    and sometimes   pray- especially    when I m in trouble- but     church   is boring and I do my shopping on a Sunday.”

However,   setting aside    fairly    trivial    reasons for giving church a miss,   it is often said that religion   divides   and   has   resulted  in war, massacres   and  extreme brutality.   Examples   are not  difficult   to   find: in    the middle ages Christian  knights    and nobles  fought     the Saracens   over the    possession   of the Holy Land; in  the  early years of the last  century     the Turks   massacred   over a  million  Armenians;   and, nearer  to hand,  Northern Ireland has   been blemished by   bloodshed   in the name of  two    varieties   of   the Christian  religion, Protestant    and Catholic.   But the New Testament,  the complement   of  the Hebrew Bible,   clearly    distinguishes    between  religion and    relationship,  as we   shall see   in the  story of    St Paul   as  told by   Luke in  the  Acts  of the Apostles.

Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Rabbi and felt his life’s work was to   destroy the followers of Jesus   whom   he thought   was   the founder of a heretical and dangerous sect.  On the way to Damascus , in order  to  root out a group of them,  he experienced  a life-changing encounter:   temporarily   blinded    he met with  a vision of   that same Jesus  of Nazareth  whom he so hated  as a heretic  and  blasphemer.  Jesus asked, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul’s    reply was    amazing; “Who are you, Lord?” In that  moment  of  divine encounter  the persecutor   became  a disciple and eventually became  the  most    communicator  of the Gospel  in  the early years of the Church.

Years   of training  for the rabbinate – even under the great  Gamaliel and years  of attendance of the synagogue and Temple- did  not    satisfy  Saul’s  knowledge   of God,  but the encounter   with  Jesus on the Damascus Road    filled  the  spiritual void   in a moment of time.  Church attendance, pilgrimages   and even the most    of solemn rites are no    substitute for a   meeting   with Jesus   through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s substitute on earth, And     that encounter   Saul had with Jesus     today is available to all and everyone, including the most unlikely people!

Prayer Dynamics

Rev. Rick Warren

EXPECT GOD TO ANSWER  YOUR PRAYERS

“If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask him … but if you don’t ask in faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.” (James 1:5-6 TLB)

God wants to direct you in life, but two things need to line up: You have to ask the right person, God, and you have to ask with the right attitude — in faith, expecting an answer.

Have you ever asked God for something and didn’t expect to get it? That’s why you didn’t get it. God works in our lives according to faith. So many times we say, “God, please guide me!” and we walk away not even waiting for guidance. We just immediately start to work.

We say, “God, I want you to give me wisdom; help me make the right decision.” But we don’t really expect him to do that. We think it all depends on us.

God has promised to give us wisdom, if we will ask. Wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view. Wisdom is the ability to make decisions the way God makes decisions.

Think about this: God never makes a bad decision. He never makes a mistake. He says if we trust him and listen to him, he will guide us. But we must ask in faith. 

Sermon Starters

Rev. E. Anderson

SWITCHED ON OR OFF

Isaiah 59

The Lord makes known His position further through His servant-messenger.Israelneeded to know the exact position in relation to Himself with regard to His listening and answering faculties, hearing and working. He had stated a great deal about the false gods and one thing that was most apparent was not simply their deadness but their complete deafness. Because they were lifeless they had no capacity to hear or heed. They may possess ears but they were useless. God, the Living Lord, has complete sensitivity in this realm – v1 “He can hear when you calf.” It should be understood that He that made both ear and eye , hears and sees all.

1/. HE IS SWITCHED ON -v1

There is no need to be concerned on this point: He is not deaf or likely to be so. Age, for many human mortals, brings deterioration to the hearing . They may be switched on but cannot hear because of the weakness that has developed on this front in the vital area of the body. It comes through age, infection, disease, accident etc. This is not so and can never be so with God. He says: “Listen!” Be switched on because He is. This is heartening news to those that love, know, believe and obey Him. He is an attentive God as Abraham, Moses, Hannah, Elijah and others discovered. The righteous call and cry and the Lord’s ears are wide open. See this promise given in Jeremiah 33: 1-3. It is time to ask in prayer – 56:7.

2/. HE IS SWITCHED OFF-v2

NLT “But there is a problem …” Whilst He is not deaf He can be switched off to listening by deliberate choice and action. He has turned away and will not listen to His people any more any more. Why? he plainly tells them it is because of your sin. He acts deaf when sin and evil prevails in those who would seek His help. He is insensitive when His people violate His laws and His holy day. Corrupt lives and lips make it impossible for Him to listen and respond in a definite way. It does not matter how much prayer is made, if the heart and life condition is not right, there is no hearing or dealing. His ear/arm are switched off. What has to take place is the removal of the offensive factor that has produced the communication line – see Psalm 66:18. It is downright folly and stupidity to go on praying if sin exists because there is no way that the lord is going to take any notice. Praying is a vanity if sin is present and practiced.

CONCLUSION

One of the choicest things in life is to be able to talk to God in prayer and to get answers. It is important to be right with Him and He will be right with us. He will listen to me if I will listen to him and I must be switched on to hear and do. God is not deaf and neither should we be.

Illustration: The ewe has her ears pricked up to listen to the lamb’s cry.

Wisdom’s Ways

Rev. A. Linford

NEIGHBOURS

“Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house” – Proverbs 25:8-10,17,18 

In normal civilised situations we all have neighbours. But where people rub together there is always danger of friction, with its resultant heat and noise. The wise man here shows how the oil of kindness and good sense that make such relationships work smoothly and well.

Treat your neighbour with tolerance (vs 8) when things go wrong it is so easy to rush into conflict. Their children break your fence, their domestic pets foul your garden, their noisy activities destroy your peace. What are you going to do about it? Seek legal reparation? Go steady. Mind you have sufficient cause. You might look silly if you sue your neighbour and the case falls through. Is it worth while to destroy good relationship for want of patience?

Treat your neighbour honourably (vs 9, 10) If you have a genuine complaint, talk it over with him. Do not moan to others or spread malicious gossip. It is far better to win over the folk next door than to rouse feelings of rancour or threats of retaliation. We are exhorted to “live peaceably with all men” (Rom 12:18). But Paul adds, “if it be possible”. We must admit that some people are impossible, but no disturbance of the peace should initiate with us.

Treat your neighbour with consideration (vs 17) There are some doorsteps we never cross, some we seldom pass over, others we may often tread. With some “nigh-bours” we have a happy rapport – witty conversation, generous hospitality and kindly interest in our affairs are very inviting. “This is good”, says the wise man, “but don’t overdo it”. We should respect our neighbours privacy; reciprocate their hospitality, indeed, but moderate our familiarity. Why should neighbourliness become a bore or a burden?

Treat your neighbour with kindness (vs 18) To betray confidences resultant on friendly visits is to batter or slay the reputation of those we visit. Especially vicious is such betrayal if it is exaggerated or false. So never hammer your neighbour with the mischievous “maul” of innuendo, wound with the “sword” of gossip or pierce with the “arrow” of harmful comment.

PRAYER:

Help me to be a neighbour that brings blessing and peace, O Lord.

 

Illustrious Men and Ministries

Rev. Cliff Barrows

Clifford Burton Barrows (born April 6, 1923 in Ceres, California) is the longtime music and program director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has been a part of the Graham organization since 1949. Barrows is best known as the host of Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program, and the song leader and choir director for the crusade meetings.

Barrows was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1944, and served as an assistant pastor at Temple Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota through 1945. Barrows joined Graham at a rally in Asheville, North Carolina that year, and has remained with Graham ever since.

He appeared in the 1970 film His Land with British pop singer Cliff Richard. The film reviews Biblical events as both Cliffs take a pilgrimage toIsrael. It was produced by Graham’s production company, World Wide Pictures.

In 1988, Barrows was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee by the Gospel Music Association. In 1996 he was also inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame by the National Religious Broadcasters. Barrows’ longtime colleague, George Beverly Shea, is also a member of both halls of fame.

PERSONAL

Barrows was married to the former Wilma “Billie” Newell (1925–1994). They had five children: Bonnie, (born 1948), Robert, (1950) Betty Ruth, (1953), Clifford (Bud) (1955) and William Burton (1962). Barrows married Ann Prince in 1995; the couple now resides in Marvin, North Carolina.

In March 2009, Barrows had the remains of his 1st wife Wilma moved from the grounds of their home “The Cove” in Asheville, North Carolina to the Billy Graham Library inCharlotte.

Of Graham, Shea and Barrows, who compose the heart of the Billy Graham team, Barrows, at 88, is the youngest member. All three men outlived their first wives. Graham is the only widower who has not yet remarried.

QUOTES

“The Christian faith is a singing faith, and a good way to express it and share it with others is in community singing.”

Billy Graham asked each member of the team to come up with a list of things that might threaten their ministry, and what they could do about each one.

Cliff Barrows recalled they each listed the same concerns: integrity, accountability, purity of life, and humility. Together the team prayed and committed to living according to those four principles.

They agreed to live lives of integrity being truthful in their speech and conduct; being consistent at home and on the crusade platform. They agreed to be accountable to God and to each other, and to those overseeing the ministry, particularly in finances. They each agreed to maintain personal calendars of where they were going, the purpose for their trip or activity, and who they were with. They also agreed to lives of purity, vowing never to be alone with a woman and to have the company of others in the presence of women not their wives. Finally, they agreed to act in humility, to speak carefully about the success of their meetings, and to be careful to give God the glory. They called this agreement the Modesto Manifesto, and it has guided their lives and ministry since that day.

With 419 worldwide crusades, hundreds of evangelistic meetings, countless media appearances, and impeccable financial and moral accountability, the Billy Graham team and ministry has seen over 210-million people attend crusades and over 2-million profess faith in Christ.

 

 

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