Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Fans or Disciples?

           Text: Matthew 16.25
Icebreaker: What is most extreme story of a fan that you ever heard? Have you ever done something extreme to do something that you really want? Would you be able to share with others?

Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world. In one confrontation, he approached a strongly fortified city with just a small company of soldiers. He came forward and demanded to see the King. The king approached to hear Alexander’s demands. “surrender to me immediately,” commanded Alexander. The King laughed. “Why should I surrender to you? We have you far outnumbered. You are no threat to us!” Alexander responded by lining up his men and ordering them to march straight towards the nearby cliff. The defending soldiers and king watched incredulously as a man after man marched off the edge of the cliff without hesitation. After ten of his men had thus died, Alexander ordered the rest to stop. The King realized that with such loyal enemy soldiers willing to die for the cause, his defeat was guaranteed. He surrendered on the spot to Alexander the Great.
Do you know that there is a massive difference between a FOLLOWER and a FAN? Let us see some?

1) Fans will follow what they like, disciples will follow the master and His teachings.
We see many people in the bible that liked part of Jesus’ teachings, or even followed Him for a while or in certain occasions. In special we can see the rich young ruler conversation with Jesus (Matt 19.16-22), a young man that did what the law required, but that wasn’t willing to follow the example of the master, only teachings of behaviour and not the transformation of intention.
We are all tempted to follow just what pleases us, but in order to become a disciple we have to break the wall and understand that He is God and we are call to become disciples of Jesus, that what makes the difference in our lives and in our generation. That is what will impact others!

2) Disciples are not moved by desperate feeling, but by decision
In John 6 it is possible to see many people following Jesus everywhere he went. Jesus was performing miracles and sharing a pearl of deep wisdom with everyone, in special He fed the 5.000 multiplying bread and fish what must have impacted thousands of people, after that He walked on the water and his disciples were all in awe before the Christ. But a little while after all the amazing things Jesus did he started to disciple people with solid teaching, he went deep sharing that He cared about the intention of their hearts, and because of that the bible says that many people (followers and fans) deserted Jesus.
Have you decided to follow Jesus no matter what, or are you still waiting to “feel” in your hear to follow?

3) It is impossible to stop a group of Disciples.
The soldiers of Alexandre walked to death because of their dedication to follow their leaders, we instead we walk to eternal abundant life if we choose to follow our master and father Jesus Christ.

Tertullian, in his great apology for the Christian faith, challenged the Roman authorities: “Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust. The more you mow us down, the more we grow, for the seed of the church is the blood of the martyrs.”  John Wesley knew that only 100 followers could change the world “Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.    Are you one of them? Would you like to be a disciple of Jesus?

Conclusion: Are you a follower or a fan of Jesus? So let’s pray.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why is tithing important?

The Importance of Tithing

honoring God with the firstfruits of your income
The tithe is 10% of your income, and it should be given to God faithfully. Tithing honors the Scriptural principles of generously providing for religious leaders, giving to those in need, and laying up treasures in heaven.
Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged to give the first part of our resources to God as an expression of honor and gratitude. Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9–10).

Understand the Biblical Basis for Tithing

Tithing is mentioned throughout the Old Testament, particularly when God commissioned the Israeli tribe of Levi to serve by caring for the tabernacle and providing spiritual leadership for the nation of Israel. Since the tribe of Levi was given these two unique responsibilities, God did not assign to them a portion of land (as He had assigned portions of land to the other tribes of Israel), but He instructed the rest of the Israelites to bring tithes of their increase to provide for the priests and Levites. (See Numbers 18.)
In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed the practice of tithing (see Matthew 23:23), and the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to give to those in need and to those who were ministering in the Gospel (see II Corinthians 9:6–15). When you tithe today, you enable those whom God has called to serve as pastors, missionaries, and ministry personnel to faithfully build up the Church and expand the kingdom of God.

Put It Into Practice

Tithing is one way to worship God—to honor Him as your provider and remind yourself that all of your resources belong to Him and are provided through His grace. As you give away that first 10% of your income, you set your course to honor God in the way you handle the rest of your finances.
  • When to Give
    Consider your pay schedule, and establish a pattern of giving when your resources increase. This habit allows you to regularly remind yourself of God’s faithfulness and to express gratitude to Him by giving to meet the needs of others.
  • Where to Give
    Typically, the tithe should be given to the local churchwhere you worship. These gifts support your pastor and ministry staff members who are actively serving you, and they help maintain the work of the church in your community. As God prospers you and directs you, additional gifts can be given to other ministries that are advancing the Gospel.
  • What to Give
    The tithe is 10% of your gross income. In addition to giving 10% of your monetary income, consider giving God the firstfruits of other resources as well, such as your time (giving Him the first part of your day in a quiet time and taking one day in seven to focus on worship and rest) and energies (investing your gifts and abilities in your church and community).
  • How to Give
    Your motives for giving are important to God. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:7–8). Give with the expectation that God will faithfully supply whatever you need so that you can abound in good works!

Grow in the Fear of the Lord

The practice of tithing provides a regular reminder of your dependence on God. In good times, tithing helps you remember that God is the source of all blessings, and it allows you to demonstrate your gratitude for His care. In hard times, tithing motivates you to remember God’s faithfulness, and it enables you to demonstrate trust in God to provide for all of your needs.
In Deuteronomy 14:22–23, God instructed the Israelites: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed . . . . of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.” Whatever your current situation, tithing is a key to learning to live in the fear of God.

Store Up Treasure in Heaven

As Christians, we are challenged to set our hearts on what truly matters, not on the frivolous things of the earth. (See Colossians 3:1–2.) Jesus challenged His disciples, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).
Giving a tithe and giving beyond the tithe are ways that you can honour God and reach out to meet the needs of others. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”(Malachi 3:10).

Thursday, May 9, 2019

True Letter

As we are celebrating 1 year of Connect, we have made a letter about what has happened in this first year of our church! 
But we have just shared the blessings, yes we have had a full year of miracles, blessings beyond what we could expect. But we didn't share all the trials and difficulties that we have faced to get here today, everything that we have passed to be able to share these blessings with you!
To be honest we have done it on purpose, as we are celebrating all the good that has happened to us, and we want you to take that with you, but in fact it helps us to reflect on one thing: we only show/tell people what we want them to know/see in us/about us.
I confess that we have done it with this letter, although it is all true don't reveal all that happens behind the scenes. 

How many times in our lives we do precisely the same? When someone asks: How are you? Not bad (What does not bad mean? ; or we affirm that we are okay when in reality we are very far from being good/feel right. The truth is, we don't like to expose ourselves, for many reasons – maybe we feel ashamed, embarrassed, depressed with our own reality… desperate. I don't know why you hide your feelings, thoughts, situation, I understand why I sometimes hide mine, but here is the deal: 
We usually don't share the full story of our own lives, the whole truth but we seek for it – we hunger for the truth, for a guidance, for stability, for leadership, for order from chaos – look around you – there are so many different religions, political party, diets, movements all seeking the same thing: the truth – the real one! Do you know why they are asking for it outside and not within themselves? Because we all know that 'we don't have what it takes'. We are not owners of the truth.
The bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 that our hearts are deceitful – I cannot trust in my own heart. I don't know about you, but I change, oh yes how I change! Most of the times on the same day! I wake up happy, and by lunchtime, I am fed up, in the afternoon I have cried, and in the evening I am very excited about planning my life for the next year ahead! 
If you are a bit like me, there is no way we could have all the answers, no way we could hold the truth! 

So we do need to seek the truth in another source apart from ourselves. Right? The good news is there is the truth – the fact that's real, unchangeable, eternal and this truth has a name: Jesus! He is the truth, the way and the life! And the fantastic thing is that everything that we need to know, the letter that God has written and given to us it's real. The bible doesn't tell us only the blessings, but tell us what comes behind it, tell us about people like you and me that messed up, made wrong choices but have found a way out through Jesus Christ! 
Despite all the lies that you see on TV, all the half-truths that people tell us or we tell them, all the untold stories there is ONE truth available to us – Jesus – and there is ONE letter – that we can read and trust – the bible!

If you crave for what is real, what will endure, what is entirely true I want to challenge you to dive in the word of God to discover more about Him and more about how to have a relationship with Jesus! 
Today I want to give you 3 reasons to read the letter that God has left for you:

It's real
Some people may say that the bible is a Love Letter; I think it is a lot more than that! It is a Real letter, with real people, real struggles, real messy, real mercy, authentic restoration, real healing, real lessons, tangible and practical way to achieve the real joy in this life surrounded by trials.
A love letter is primarily about the recipient. It's all about that person! – When Luiz and I were dating, I use to write long love letters to him  - telling him how special, unique he was/is, how my heart would beat and still beats when I see him coming towards me…
Don't get me wrong, it's undoubtedly addressed to us, and we can locate ourselves within the sacred words. The bible is also for us, able to teach, reveal, instruct, rebuke, and encourage. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The bible is for us and not about us! The Bible Is A Love Letter From God…About God…to us, and how relieving is to know that?! The bible is trustworthy; it's the truth because it's not about me! It teaches me, instructs me to be more about Him!

It's unchangeable
I believe today people are craving to find the truth. Look what is happening in this nation! When we turn on the TV in the morning it's on thing-one 'truth', but when we come home from work, and we turn on it again what she/they have said, what was 'the deal' it's not the truth anymore, it has changed! 
Let's be honest; it is tough to live in times of uncertainty, not knowing what will happen next!
And these uncertainties are everywhere, even in our diet! I was doing some research about a food that has been the most discussed of all times: the egg – hero x villain. I found 2 different articles from NHS talking about the egg – on the first one said that egg is right for you as it is a good source of protein, in another article from the same NHS the title of it was: Eating egg yolks as 'bad as smoking'! Can you imagine? And still talking about food the same happens with Fat – hero (Keto diet/Low Carb-High fat) x villain (Low-fat diet).
Sometimes I wish to live in a world more stable, confident, secured…but it will never happen if we still putting our trust, our belief in what is changeable! The truth is that we are unstable, we change our minds, and we may even twist the truth to make it convenient for us. But God is not like us, like our society, like our rules, like the thinkers of this era! The bible says in Numbers 23.19  that: God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?
We change our minds, but God never changes His.

It's eternal
Do you know the name of this ring? It's called the Eternity ring also knows as infinity ring. Is a woman's ring made with precious metal (usually gold) set with a continuous line of identically cut gemstones (usually diamonds) to symbolize never-ending love, usually given by a spouse to their wife on the occasion of a significant anniversary, typically after 50 or more years of marriage. 
Unfortunately, nowadays we see many women wearing an eternity ring in a destroyed or ended marriage. Nowadays pictures posted on social media shows that the relationship it's for real, it's for all eternity, but the reality is very different. There is a saying in Brazil that says: "May it be eternal while it lasts." 
But what will last? We all know that we will not live forever, the things that we have, all the earthly things will pass. People that we love will leave…20 years ago my dad passed away, and last year I saw my mum in an Intensive Care having a heart attack in front of me, while she was recovering from bypass surgery. 
Eternity never felt so far, we live as we will exist forever, we think that our parents will live forever but when you face a situation that confronts you with the reality that we are limited, that we are not eternal, makes you really think. I remember while I was on that Intensive Care I felt terrified, afraid, hopeless but after all these feelings that came at once, I started to talk to God and ask Him to hold me in His arms, to believe in His truths, to trust completely in Him. I remember I felt eternity fulfilling my heart, not a false feeling that we will live on this earth forever, but an assurance that I had the eternal God in me!  And then I felt that Jesus was right there with my mum and me and didn't matter what could happen, I knew that I could trust and rely on Him because He never changes and He is always good! 
In 1 Peter 1.24-25 says: "For All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever."

Secure/guard the word of God in your heart, so when difficult times comes you will have where to go, you will remember what you have read, listen, and you will be able to use it, to declare to yourself the truths that can really comfort, guide, teaches you!

Today if you want what is real, what is truthful and what will last forever stop trying to seek it in what is not. Stop trying to find the truth, the meaning for your life in other people, in philosophy or in religion. But start to open your eyes, your ears, your mind, all of your senses, your heart, your soul to the ONE that is the truth in itself, that is the word since the beginning of times, that is the light of the world that destroys all darkness!

Written by Daniele R. Cardoso.

Fans or Disciples?

            Text: Matthew 16.25 Icebreaker: What is most extreme story of a fan that you ever hear...