When Jesus was crucified on the cross, He identified with our fallen humanity, and took all on our sin himself paying the price for it.
One requirement for running and winning a race is having a right mental attitude. This was brought out by words of the apostle Paul as he spoke about his relationship with Jesus Christ: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11)
Paul had an objective. He did not run aimlessly. He had an aim before him. He new what his goal was, which determined his attitude. He continued, “Not that I have already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (verse 12). Pauls vision was that Christ had laid hold of him for a purpose;
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (verses 13-14).
The phraise “press on” occurs twice, once in verse 12 and once in verse 14. That is the mental attitude we need to share with Paul: “I press on. I have a goal. I have not arrived yet, but I know where I’m going.” The last time Paul used that phrase, he said, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” There is a reward for those who complete the course. Keep pressing on!
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gve the increase” 1 Corinthians 3:6
If we will sow seed into the soil, as directed by the Holy Spirit, then, in God’s time, we will begin to see it grow. We will be amazed at how it grows, when it grows and what it grows! I believe the key is to know what God is saying and where to sow. If we will remain in the centre of God’s will, then, in God’s time, we will see the increase. I would like to encourage you to keep pressing on to what you have been called to and not give up, but keep sowing into good soil.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
I never cease to be amazed by the uniqueness of God. He is all omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. All seeing, knowing, powerful and everywhere, all at the same time. His love for mankind is so great that He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to bear the weight of the world’s sin. Yet, that love is so individual, so special to ‘each one of us’. The deeper the relationship, the greater the revelation we will have of that love. Our lives will then become a fountain, an abundance of living water overflowing to those around us, a fountain that will never run dry. This whole chapter speaks of an invitaion to those who are thirsty, culminating to when Christ’s new order will be manifest on this earth.
Dear friends, I want to encourage you, do not become weary in doing good, and pray like you have never prayed before! We only need to observe world events to know that the time is short. So, let us use our time wisely. Let us be Kingdom minded at all times, empowered by the fullness of His Spirit.
I personally feel a little sad that the concept of church today is so sophisticated. Modern technology had brought video screens, the internet and plush buildings. The early church was so simplistic. In Acts we read that the believers were all together and shared everything. No-one was in need, they were all one in heart and mind, and many wonders and miraculous signs were performed. They devoted themselves to prayer and the breaking of bread.
Let’s get back to basics! We must take the church to the market place, and each day pray for folks as the need and opportunity arises. The Lord is changing lives, bringing healing and restoration in wonderful ways. As the enemy throws everything at us to wear us down we rejoice because God is on the move, He is faithful, and something wonderful is about to break in the spiritual realm.
For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. For it is written, “As I live,” says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.
As I get older, I am aware that the days sweem to get shorter, but it’s probably because it takes me longer to do things! But it also makes me realise that life is a gift from God and so precious. Many years ago I was given a prophecy, part of which said, “Don’t let a day go by that you don’t bless somebody.”
Many times whilst in Meriden we proved God’s faithfulness, favour and blessing to us. God’s provision continued to flow in enabling us to support and bless others. We have seen ‘The Master’s plan’ unfold. First of all, ploughing up the hard ground, establishing a beachead. Sowing the seeds, then watering, seeing the fruit deveop, and finally harvest time. Folks, l harvest time is coming, get ready, be prepared. This nation is going to see a gathering of souls as never before, but only as we cry out to God for His mercy, love and forgiveness for our land. As darkness increases, God will pour out a greater anointing upon His Spirit filled Church to overcome all onslaughts of the evil one, so that He will be glorified and righteousness prevails.
Each day was exciting! The Lord brought the people – believers, non-believers, regardless of colour, creed and denomination, and as we ministered the love of God unconditionally, we never ceased to be amazed at what He did by His Holy Spirit. A mum was prayed for, a single parent, she couldn’t afford to smoke, and wanted to give up. The Lord met her at her point of need, and set her free. Praise His wonderful Name. One of our helpers, who wasn’t yet a Christian, injured her back badly and was in chronic pain. As we prayed God healed her instantly. After this she is brought her mother for prayer who had chronic asthma.
This is the reality of the gospel. Jesus giving people life changing experiences and a hope of eternal life with Him! What a wonderful God we serve!
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not loose heart. Galatians 6:9
In January 2002 we had a tremendous visit from the World Prayer Centre Team in Meriden, when appocimately 60 – 70 people attended and God really touched His people through the Team.
I personally believe that God’s people gathering together and praying with one spirit in the centre of England was and is a vital link to seeing God visit His people in this nation.
Paul Miller, one of the members of the Prayer Team, was a real encouragement to those that attended and a challenge to take with us into 2002 and for many years beyond! Paul shared about how to really ‘breakthrough’ in prayer:
‘To really reach God, we do not need to pray with our understanding – we need to ‘breakthrough’ in the realm of the Spirit. God is waiting for His Body (the born-again Church) to move into a much deeper and more meaningful relationship with Him – we need to open ourselves up to God and allow Him to reveal what He wants to do in this nation –
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 64:4)’.
We should not be saying, “Father, what can I do for You?”, but rather, “Daddy, here I am – I want to spend time with You!”. How awful we would feel if our own child developed a servant attitude, to the point that they were only happy in serving us and self-sacreifice. However, they never wanted to be in our presence and just be in our company and sit and talk to us purely because they loved us enough to want to know us better and wanted us to express our view, delights and fears (although, of course, God has no fears, only a loving concern for His children). God must so often feel like a slave-driver when we continually come to Him saying, “What can I do now for You!”
I can only imagine His pleasure when we say to Him, “Daddy”, and then just sit at His feet and listen. We need to ‘breakthrough’ in the Spiritual realm, where He is in control and not us.
I don’t know about you, but I have found God to be a constant source of peace and a haven of rest when I approach Him in this way with a sincere and open heart.
In this way, we can each say, “Father, let Your will be done on earth (through me), as it is in Heaven!”
Church planters are a rare breed! Having planted two churches, my advice to the potential church planter would be similar to the advice that Spurgeon gave to his Bible sturdents who were contemplating entering the ministry. If you can avoid doing it, do so! Yet if you cannot void it, because you know without a doubt that you are in God’s will, do it with all your heart, soul and might!
There are many pitfalls in church planting. Many newly established fellowships are paid a visit by spiritual “gypsies” who are looking for either influence of leadership. It is tempting for the leader of a small work to accept such people gladly – after all they “help” the numbers! Experience proves, however, that the eventual spiritual cost of endeavouring to discipline such people is not worth accepting them in the first place.
Then, there is the discouragement of having small numbers. There are holidays in the summer and every form of sickness in the winter. Everyone not present is greatly missed! Some become unhappy at being in a small congregation and so decide to leave and join some larger group elsewhere. Often, this is simply because of the commitment required in a church plant situation. Added to this is the lack of workers. The only mature Christians that the small congregation sees are the church planters themselves.
The logical conclusion to this is that no church planter should work alone in their quest for God. They need to be linked to a larger congregation who can help with manpower, music and money. The leadership of the bigger group may also assist should discipline be required in the church plant. Even then, it is helpful if the church that the planter is connected with has been a church plant itself. Its leadership will know and understand the problems experienced in beginning a new work first hand.
Is your chuch a ‘planting’ church? In the two years that Paul was in Ephesus, it was said of him “that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8. This would have been impossible in both instances without a chuch planting programme.
New chuches are the most effective means of winning people for the Lord. They have no formality or ritual to uphold. This makes it much easier for the Holy Spirit to move so that Jesus can effectively build His church in and through them.
To be on the cutting edge of what God is doing we have to know God’s will, or mind, in all things. The only way we are going to fulfil anything that God is calling us to is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and with His power. (Acts 17:28)
This means commitment, which is a word what is not liked very much these days. It is a commitment to the will and purpose of God in all things. God is sovereign. He is the creator of all things. God is never wrong. He is perfect in all His ways. Can you trust Him to lead you and show you His will? God is always right.
To pioneer new works for God we have to get His blueprint before we begin. We have to know God’s mind, otherwise we will not know where we are going. We will only end up chasing our tails and going round in circles. I want to encourage you to get to the place where God can speak to you, and then work in and through you to fulfil His plan for you.
I find these days that many of God’s people are not sure where they are going. There is an unwillingness generally to be fully committed to the will of God and pay the price. If the Church is going to come to maturity, and fulfil its God-given destiny, then there has to be commitment. We cannot establish God’s kingdom by operating in the flesh, and leaving the minority to somehow pull us all through.
If our desire is to see more Church’s planted and more lives changed, then we need to know God’s leading. The only way we will know God’s plans and leading is by commitment. This will include total abandonment of our own ambitions and being willing to follow Christ whatever the cost. It may include giving up a comfortable lifestyle with a guaranteed income each month, and stepping out and trusting God to meet your needs. There is no other way to build for God than to have faith in His ability to look after you and meet your needs. Someone once said, “God will always pay for what He orders”. The only way you are going to know what He is ‘ordering’ is by knowing His will.
I can quite honestly say that all God has done through the ministry in Meriden has been by His grace and mercy. We have found God to be totally faithful, He does meet our needs. I believe the key to this is to stay close to Him, stop in His will and He will bring it to pass. There are times when things seem to be going haywire, and it becomes intolerable to bear, it’s times like that when you feel you want to give up. However, it is in those times that God tests us, we do come through because God is faithful. I want to encourage you to rise up and get on the cutting edge of what God is doing and believe Him for the impossible.
For those who are following the plan and purpose of God there will be mountains to climb. The first thing we have to know is what is the Lord calling me to do? For the person who is committed to the call. of God on their lives, God has a plan for you. God wants you to fulfil that plan and to get on with the job of climbing in faith. Even to climb the whole mountain or to fulfil the big picture there are smaller ledges, banks and troughs to deal with on the way.
Are you still climbing or have you come to the place where you are just not able to continue? It might be that you are in a place where you can neither go up or down – you are just stuck?
In God’s plan for your life and mine there is provision to climb the mountain – to accomplish the climb. After all it’s God’s plan not ours and whatever He is calling us to do we will be able to do it. Often God will use what we are called to do to change our character and bring healing from the past, then develop us into the person He wants us to become.
In Genesis 22 we have an illustration of this in the life of Abraham. He was tested to the limit, even to the sacrifice of His own son Isaac. It’s only through our faith and obedience to the challenge that God puts before us that we find His provision. There is provision to fulfil the task set before you, but there are conditions. Abraham had no idea that there would be a ram in the thicket, His provision, see verse 13.
I want to encourage you to start to move forward, believing that God is with you. First believe that what you are being asked to do is from God and start to move. It’s in our willingness to move first that sets God’s plan of provision in motion. There is always a price to pay that brings the blessing and provision of God.