All right, let’s go to the word immediately, and I’d like to invite you to come with me to the Book of Mark, the gospel according to Mark. Actually these were some thoughts that I has going to share with… let’s go to chapter 6, by the way, beginning with verse 30. I was going to share some of these thoughts at the last session of our retreat as a parts of a visioning kind of thing and didn’t get the chance because we had a lot of other material to go through, but I’d like to share about this passage in terms of a, what kind of church do we want to be? What kind of church God needs in this time of history and in this place, in this city? What kind of people do we want to be?
So, I want you to read that passage from that perspective and I hope that I can illuminate all of us with some of those core values, some of those attributes that we would like to show in this city as a community. Mark 6:30, I have used this passage in other contexts perhaps before, but here I want to, the perspective of church and service to the community and to the city. It says that:
“… then the Apostles,…. –I’m reading from the New King James version, by the way- …. Then the Apostles gathered Jesus and told all things, both what they had done and what they had taught, and he said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while’, for there were many coming and going and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves, but the multitudes saw them departing and many knew him and there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things. When the day was now far spent, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat’. But he answered and said to them, ‘You give them something to eat’, and they said to him, ‘Shall we go and buy 200 denary worth of bread and give them something to eat?’, but he said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see’. And when they found out, they said, ‘Five and 2 fish’. Then he commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties and when he had taken the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to set before them, and the two fish he divided among them all. So they all ate and were filled and they took up 12 baskets full of fragments and of the fish. Now, those who had eaten the loaves were about 5000 men…..”
So you can imagine, they were a lot more people than those 5 thousand men. So, Father, thank you for your word. We pray that you will release its teaching and its details into our hearts, into our spirits, we pray that they will not simply be mere knowledge, inert, dead knowledge, but really and infusion of our light into our beings as we discuss your revelation at this time, in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.
You know, this is a slice, a vignette you might say, of the life of the disciples and of Jesus’ ministry. These passages, these scenes of Jesus’ ministry are left there in order to instruct us. By extension we can learn a lot about how we should proceed both in life and in ministry, by seeing how Jesus and his disciples dealt with certain situations. I think this is why the Holy Spirit left this passage marked here, because as we study it, we can extract from it some lessons, some really profound lessons about all kinds of things: how we should live life, for example.
This passage should be interpreted like that. How we should lead our ministries, and I used this passage a few months back with a group of ministers regarding pursuing the individual ministry of a pastor, for example. But it’s very well also, serves the purpose of providing us with information and teaching about how we can proceed as a community, as a church as well.
And this is the kind of church that I’d like to have. I mean, these guys along with Jesus constituted a community, a small embryonic community that would serve as a foundation for the greater church and this is why this passage has been left here. What kind of a church do we want to be? What kind of a church would I’d like to see birth out of this nascent community that we are?
You know, the first thing I get here, is right from the very beginning, it says, “….then, the Apostles gathered to Jesus and told him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught….”
You see, these disciples doing two things: coming to Jesus and sharing with him two things, what they had done and what they had taught. Now, where are they coming from? Jesus, we see in the beginning of the passage sent them out, he sent them out to preach the gospel. He empowered them, he sent them on an assignment, on a mission to serve and to minister and when they had finished doing it, empowered by the Holy Spirit, because Jesus had commissioned them and had given them power, for example, over unclean spirits and to cast demons and to anoint with oil those who were sick and to heal them as well, Jesus had anointed them, empowered them, commissioned them and sent them out.
They did their thing, they moved in the power of the Holy Spirit, in that commissioning of Jesus, and what happens? When they finished, do they go back home? And just, great experience, wonderful, we’ll do it again next year. No, they go back to Jesus. They return to Jesus. It’s like, after you use your cordless phone you put it back on the base to continue charging it. They spent their energy and then they returned to Jesus.
So, you see these guys living in this rhythm of proceeding from Jesus and returning to Jesus, and in between they live life, they do ministry. So, I would say that one of the key elements of a powerful congregation of a power church, is a church that has Christ centered ministry, Christ centered action and Christ centered teaching because they reported to him, both what they had done and what they had taught.
Why were they doing this? Because they wanted Jesus to kind of debrief them, they wanted Jesus to interpret what they had experienced, what they had done. In one passage, in another situation, Peter says to Jesus, for example, ‘Lord, even the demons submitted to us’. I mean, his mind is blown at the fact that he has that kind of power and he’s like a little kid that has just learned to use a new toy and he’s all excited. And Jesus I think, discerned a bit of carnality and pride, of course in Peter, and Jesus said, ‘hey guys, don’t be so happy about that, be glad that your name is written in the book of heaven’.
What is he providing? Perspective. You see, that’s why it is so important to share with Jesus your experiences. In ministry it’s so good to have a mentor. Jesus was that mentor. And so, as they shared with him what they had experienced, what they had done, what they had seen, what they had taught, I think Jesus fine tuned their experiences and their teaching and added perspective, added nuance to it.
We need to have that done periodically in our lives. We live so many things and experience so many things that we need the Holy Spirit to help us to interpret the events of life and to teach us and to renew our mind. It has to be a constant thing and the Holy Spirit is very willing to do that. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will lead you to all truth, that is the essence.
You know, this idea of living the Christian life close to Jesus. I think a powerful congregation needs to train itself and focus itself on Jesus, on the teachings of Jesus, on the life of Jesus, on the character of Jesus, on the power of Jesus, on the victories of Jesus. All of that has been left in the scriptures, not only in the gospels, but I think all throughout the scripture we see the character of Christ and we need to model our ministry according to Christ, not according to a denomination, not according to the way the culture out there would like us to pursue ministry, and that’s a mistake that is often made.
I believe that many churches and many denominations often have their eye set more on the culture, trying to read the culture and to adjust its teachings and its proceedings to the culture, thinking that if they can read the culture, and I believe in doing that to a certain degree, but we should be careful not to allow the culture to define our ministry. Our ministry should be defined by Jesus, by the patterns of Jesus, by the teachings of Jesus, by the balance, the delicate balance that sometimes Jesus established in his own ministry.
And so, Godly congregation, churches that will be used by God, they need to be Jesus centered. Jesus says, ‘remain in me and I in you, and you will bear much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing’.
The church can have all kinds of great programming, great equipment, great facilities, great leadership with all kinds of degrees and pedigrees, but I can assure you of one thing, if it does not move in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the character and revelation of Jesus Christ it will get nowhere. Please, believe that. And our lives need to be Jesus centered.
These guys are yoked to Jesus, they leave from Jesus, they return to Jesus, they get the directions from Jesus, they get their debriefing from Jesus and I pray that as a church we will always be oriented to that, to the word of God, to the revelation from the Holy Spirit and that’s my vow, that’s my commitment and it should be ours as well. Do you want to be a powerful church? We need to be a church that derives it’s teaching because the Bible, the word of God as it reveals Jesus as the power to heal us and to lead us.
I have shared that I’m reading presently a biography of Martin Luther, the great reformer of the 16th century and it’s interesting that the writer, the biographer speaks of Martin Luther before and after. His before was a monk full of guilt and agony. He was an obsessive compulsive man and he was continually depressed about his sins, always seeking to find justification through action and through ritual and through confession and the rituals of men, because that’s what he had been taught. The church had degenerated into just following its own teaching and forgetting, the Bible was put to the side.
His superior happened to assign him to the chair of Bible teaching, because he was a brilliant man, a brilliant theologian and when forced to teach the Bible, he was forced to read the Bible and to study it, and you know what? That transformed him. As he read the Bible he discovered, and it’s ironic that a priest, that a monk, would have to be assigned to teach the Bible in order to read it, but as he read for example, psalm 22 that spoke… it’s a messianic psalm that spoke about the agony of the coming Messiah on the cross, and as he studied the book of Romans and the book of Galatians, he discovered that salvation is by grace, it’s not by all the things that we do. It’s not by all the sacrifices and all the rituals that we follow.
When Martin Luther discovered that it revolutionized his life, freed him from his chains of self, of despair, of self disdain and of guilt and birthed that greatest transformation in the history of the church. We are still feeding from that. Why? Because he went to the word, because he went to Jesus. And we need to do that as a congregation, so we need to be Christ centered, both in our action and in our teaching.
The other thing that I see here is that this community had a visible profile in the community, this group of men and Jesus were well known in the community. They are going to take a time to just rest and be away, and the multitudes realized that Jesus is in town and they find out his traveling plans and when they arrive at their place of retreat and rest, they discover that the whole multitude is there waiting for them, breathlessly wanting to hear more from Jesus. They had a profile.
Now, why are these people following Jesus so desperately? Because they know that he has the answer to their problems. They know that Jesus can heal, they know that Jesus can deliver them from the demonic oppression, they know that Jesus has a message, a word, and that he has the anointing of God, something that the other leaders, religious leaders did not have.
And I pray that as a church we will become a visible, that we will have a profile in the community and that with the passing of time the community will know that they can find in this place a refuge, that they can find in this place a community of people who loves people, that loves the sinner, that has the balance of grace and of holiness that Jesus exuded, that has the power of God to pray for needs and for healing, that is active in the community and is doing all kinds of wonderful things.
But the church cannot just be within the four wall. The church of Jesus Christ is called to be out there. I was preaching last Sunday to our congregation, I will preach that sermon at some point here as well, about being the light of the world. And Jesus says, a light is not put under a bowl, under a bushel, it’s the ancient term, but it is put on the chandelier so that it can illuminate the whole house. And a city on a hill cannot be hidden. I am saying that the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be that, a visible community. We’re supposed to be active in the marketplace as members of this community, we’re supposed to be doing things that exalt the name of Christ, we’re supposed to be participating in the dramas and in the life of the community, we’re supposed to be deeply involved, both as individuals and as a church, and our life as a church should exemplify the best values of the Kingdom of God so that we can show them, we can exhibit ourselves, not because of any good thing that is in us, but because of the Christ that is in us, that light of Christ that is in us, shining through us.
And I believe that when the world really gets to see a community that is living out the gospel in its fullness, you know, that church, its problem is going to be not trying to get people in, but trying to keep people out, if there’d be such a thing. This was Jesus’ problem, his problem was that he didn’t have followers. His problem here is that he cannot hide even to take a rest and people are hungry. I think people are hungry for communities of vitality, genuine communities, authentic communities where the gospel is really being preached and lived in all its authenticity.
I think the gospel is winsome, when shown fully and cleanly so that people can consider it, you know, I think that most individuals are really intrigued and interested and so need to make efforts. We were talking this morning about evangelism and being proactive, and I think that we need to do more of that as a community, but I do pray that the Lord will make us a visible church in his community, that people will know that they can have their needs met and I think that is the best publicity that any community can have.
So we have a church that is Christ centered in its action, in its teaching, that has a visible profile in the community, that is a light to the community and that lives its life publicly and visibly. I think a church also has to be a place of compassion.
It says here, that Jesus when he saw the multitude, instead of saying, ‘hey guys, I’m sorry, the shop is closed today. We’re on vacation,’. It says, he looked at them and he looked at their need and it says here, when Jesus came out and saw a great multitude he was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. I can almost see Jesus’ look of compassion and his smile of resignation, and saying, ‘ok guys, I’ll be out in a moment’ and ministering to them in their need.
How important it is that a church be a place that feels the pain of others? A church that has the heart of God. A church that is not so much concerned about bringing a person in because they represent a couple of thousands dollars of tithes and offerings, or another resource for the community, but simply because we love people, because we have the compassion of Christ, because our heart is broken when we see people going to hell because they do not know Christ, or we see people living a miserable existence and dieing of thirst when they have an endless source of water right close to them. And we have the answer.
I think that if our were broken with the things as somebody has said, that break the heart of God, what a difference. I think we would have more compassion. I pray that the Lord will break more my heart more and more, that I’d be more passionate, that I will feel the pain of this world that is dieing without Jesus Christ that is going deeper and deeper into sin, that rather than hating people and disdaining them because they do not know the Lord, like Jesus we have compassion for them. We feel the heart of the sinner.
You know, there are so many people in our community, right in my block, for example, I can think of a family, several families actually, when I hear them screaming to each other and I see them so entangled in sin and their hearts so hardened, and I see them trapped, because they probably have been abused when they were children, because they have never been taught by somebody about moral and ethical things or how to be a good parent, my heart breaks, and I say, ‘Lord, help us as a church to minister to those people’.
When your heart is broken and you really want to serve people because you love them, a lot of things will happen. God will use you and God will use us as a church, when we are a church of compassion that ministers to the needs of people.
I think also, our church, a good Godly church needs to be a resource in a cultural, spiritual and moral confusion. We need to be a corrective influence and a source of good Godly, vertical teaching about the word of God. Jesus, he says they were like sheep not having a shepherd. What was Jesus seeing? He was seeing the Pharisees entrenched in their legalisms, and their rituals and their dead religion and their false piety, and their obsessive, compulsive holiness, that was not holiness really? He was seeing that religious community sort of keeping people away rather than bringing them into the Kingdom and disdaining these people because they didn’t know the law, they didn’t wash their hands, they didn’t to do this, they didn’t do that, and just leaving them to the wolves. Or the Sadducees, mired in their intellectualism and their Greek culture and their trying to be like the Greeks, like so many sectors of Christianity here in American and in Europe, trying to be more modern than the secular world themselves and trying to update the gospel at the expense of the truth of the gospel and power of the gospel, and also leaving all kinds of people destitute of the power of God and the true word of God that is the only thing that can transform people.
And I think, when we look around at the masses out there, both highly intellectual people and not so intellectual people, workers and intellectuals being taught so much religious garbage, I’ll use that word, forgive me, I don’t have the time to think of something more diplomatic. And you know, we realize that more than ever there is a need for churches that will teach the word of God and that will give the masses what they truly need and that will provide clarity and truth.
I saw someone reading a book just recently, who is very religious and the title of the book is ‘Finding God in the questions’. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that book and I think it is a great title and it’s probably a very good material, and I thing that sometimes we do need to learn to live in ambiguity and ambivalence. Christians need that and I don’t want to be too hard about the book but I just want to use as an illustration about something.
Man, if I were to teach people I want to teach him about finding God in the certainties that are in scripture and about… there’re so many things that I hope people would read out there instead of ambivalence and ambiguity. I may preach another sermon and I may say the very opposite, but I think people need certainty these days, people need a clear gospel, people need a clear message to live by. There are so many power principles in scripture that are being neglected by the church and churches need to provide good, solid teaching. We need to be teaching churches, and so, I hope that our church will be a resource in a cultural confusion for clarity of teaching even as we realize that the gospel is very ambiguous as well.
So, we need clarity of teaching and abundance of teaching. Jesus spent hours teaching them, so much so, that they stayed there until late that night and then dusk come and they’ve got to go. It was several hours of teaching, you know, nowadays many churches, as I was saying I think recently, if a sermon goes beyond 20 minutes, man, that preacher is playing his tenure, they may put him out if he does it too much, they will start looking at their watch and pointing it to him. You know, I’ve got to go to lunch. It’s terrible, I think we need to be fed with the word, we need to be rooted in the word of God and we need to have in order to have good teaching, little time needs to be taken. I’m not justifying my own wittiness by the way, but we need to take time. My hero is the Apostle Paul preaching until midnight, so much that this guy gets bored and what happens? He falls from the balcony and so, watch out, guys. I don’t want to see anybody nodding here.
The Apostle Paul probably took his time. And I see that whenever there is anointing in a church, whenever the Holy Spirit is moving in a culture or in an age or revival and awakening, sermons they grow longer because the spirit of God is in abundance and because God is speaking both through anointed, abundant preachers and people who have a thirst for the word of God and are resonating with the truths of the spirit and deep is calling to deep. People are filled and desirous and wanting the meat of the word and God is raising passionate teachers and preachers who are full of the word and have to sort of disgorge and invert themselves of it because it is there. And I think that’s important that we need to cultivate that, we need to have an abundance and a clarity of teaching.
Another thing that I see here and I, believe or not, winding down is an encompassing wide, ranging ministry, in other words holistic ministries, ministries that go beyond just the merely spiritual. What happens here?
When Jesus finishes teaching the spiritual part his disciples, that are just conditioned to looking at spiritual teaching….how many people think, hey the only calling of the church is to preach the word and to get people into heaven and save them from hell, and then the rest, that’s up to them. Let them handle. If they don’t have money to pay the heat on a cold winter, too bad, they should have saved. I will send them to the welfare agency or something like that.
We have drawn this artificial division that the church is just spiritual things and the material things should be left to somebody else. You know, here, Jesus draws a corrective example. When the disciples come and say, ‘hey, Lord, it’s late. These people are hungry, so let them fend for themselves, let them go home and let’s go to Mc Donalds and have dinner ourselves.’ And Jesus says, I think, with a sort a gleam in his eyes, he says, ‘hey, you give them something to eat. You give them to eat’, and they look at him incredulous and say, ‘hey, are you kidding, are we going to go and buy seven thousands dollars worth of bread and cheese and mayonnaise for this multitude of people? You must be kidding.’
In another passage it says, you know, even if we had the money, where would we get the food for this large number of people? They’re scandalized and I think, Jesus again… you see that’s the good thing about letting Jesus teach you and letting Jesus lead you and debrief you in your experiences as a church, because he’s always continually updating you and downloading the latest piece of program, the latest update. He says, ‘No, you give them something to eat’.
He was teaching them something, the call of the church is to minister in all the needs of a community. If there’s a need, as there is for example in our youth for academic resources, and for teaching, the church must be there, the church can do things much better than the world can. If there are problems in the family, as there are in our society, the church can be the best counselor in the world, and the church should have a leadership role in teaching families and marriages and teaching people how to live out healthy marriages and healthy families.
If the problem is a community that is being gauged by loan sharks and by excessive credit and lenders who are deceptive in their practices, the church somehow, without losing its first priority, if it’s possible, it should cooperate at the very least with resources that enable people to deal with those issues, whether it’s diet, or whether it’s the lack of exercise in our community, or excessive spending or lack of saving, or the academic difficulties of the community, the disfunctionality of our families, the church has something to say. The gospel fo Jesus Christ is a whole gospel, it is total truth as Nancy Pierce has said in her book. It is a light that can shine upon any darkness and we have a call to minister.
And I think if the church of Jesus Christ only address more the various darkness in our culture, Jesus would find the resources just as here. What we need to do is simply take on the challenge and say, ‘Father, empower us, teach us’, and then begin to take baby steps by the power of the Holy Spirit and God begins to teach us and to draw more and more resources as we see here. But the church of Jesus Christ, a powerful church needs to be a church that has an ambition to serve the community in all its different dimensions, very important. And it is a church that is possibility oriented not limitation oriented, that’s very important, because that’s what often trips us and prevents us from having a more ambitious understanding of the gospel.
It’s that we look around and we says, well, we don’t have the people, we don’t have the personnel. We don’t have the time. We don’t have the energy. We don’t have the facilities. And so many times we are limitation oriented. These guys say, we don’t have the money and we don’t have the calling.
Now, I know that we must be judicious and careful about this, but God wants us to open our eyes to the great resources that he has for us. I think that God doesn’t accomplish more in your life and in my life, even at the personal level, because our God is too small, and because the piping of our faith is too small. So God cannot run his power through a thin cored. We need to provide God with thick cables so that his energy as it runs through won’t melt the cable.
If we just provide him with the very thin little thing, he’ll just have to adjust his energy to that much. If our faith is little, God’s power is little. If we believe that we have been called to do marvelous, great things, then God will do great things. If we undertake things in the name of Jesus Christ and we believe in his power, it’s not in our power, I believe, many times that we just need to step out of the boat in faith and start walking.
Now, what happens to me as I was saying many times as I’m walking I start drowning with fear, because I look around and I see, what did I get into, my God? But you know, I have seen Jesus time and time again pull me out and strengthen me and bless and provide and I encourage you to live a possibility oriented life. Don’t look at your limitations, don’t look at your pedigree, don’t look at your family background, don’t look at what you have not accomplished. Look at the fact that the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead, dwells within you as well. And you can do great, powerful things and this church can do great, powerful things if we believe that God has called us to do that and to minister in all the different areas of ministry.
Let’s not just look at the number of people that we have now or the limitations or whatever, we can look at those things to learn from them, but not to let them rule the things that we undertake, the big difference, possibility oriented, faith oriented, not limitation oriented. Thinking.
Two last things, a church that grows and that is powerful needs to release the native gifts that are in it, the gifts of the believers. It is not run by the pastor. The pastor is simply a facilitator or should be, in the best of situations, he’s a midwife, he’s a facilitator of the gifts that are inherent in the believers.
Jesus here manages the whole process. He says, hey guys, what do you have? He’s teaching them. What do you have among you, go and see. You see, they had what was necessary, based on the fact that Jesus had what the other piece that was necessary among them. There was something in that community that was all that was necessary for the miracle to take place. So he says, go and see, go and explore. So, they go around as a teaching exercise, they ask around, ‘hey, guys, anybody has anything to eat?’ and they go all over the multitude and finally after maybe half and hour of searching or more, they come back. What do they have? Five loaves of bread and two fish. I mean, that wasn’t enough probably to feed half of the disciples themselves, how much more so 5000 men and probably an equal number of women and children at the very least.
But as they explored they saw that there were things native to that community that could be used for its redemption and for the satisfaction of its needs. I really believe that when a church is birthed God himself starts bringing in the gifts that are necessary. The gifts are here, the gifts are in the Hispanic congregation of Lion of Judah, God cannot be limited. He always provides. I think is many times as we were talking in a previous conversation, how can we unleash the gifts. And you know, you are necessary.
Jesus will not do certain things without you. I want you to know that. That’s the way he proceeds. He works in society, he works in a team manner, and you have something that you can contribute to the advancement of the Kingdom of God and I pray that as time goes by we will be able to empower more and more people to serve the Lord.
I have the highest esteem for the power in believers. The priesthood of all believers, that was another great insight that God gave Martin Luther as he studied the Bible and I see that in Jesus, always appreciating everyone. Do not underestimate what God has put on you. Please, do not underestimate the power that you have in you to enrich this community or to be used powerfully of God, whether you are a young person or an adult, or whatever, God has endowed with something. We need you.
And I pray that our church as it continues, will be a church that will prepare believers, will disciple them, will teach them, will teach them about the power that is inherent in Jesus Christ as he inhabits and indwells through the Holy Spirit and that will induce in them a mentality of service and servant-hood, that each of you is a pastor, is a minister, is a prophet, is an evangelist, is a teacher, is a worshipper. We have all of those things in embryonic form within us because we have the Holy Spirit who can do all those things and we can minister in all those different capacities, perhaps as powerfully as one person who has been gifted in one of those gifts, but certainly we do have all those things among us and parts of the commitment of a church will be to teach, to disciple, to empower, to indoctrinate and to release and to use and I pray that the Lord will enable us to do that.
Finally, a church has to be supernaturally oriented. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe in the gifts of the spirit, I’m not a dispensationalist. I don’t believe that the gifts of the spirit ended with the writing of the Bible, the completion of the Bible. I believe that we must live a supernatural life and that may seem redundant because people will say, yes, I know that because I believe in God so I do believe in the supernatural.
No, the supernatural outlook, what I call the supernatural outlook is a pervasive foundational, saturating outlook of the supernatural. It is that you live expecting miracles, you live expecting that God is going to speak to you today. You go to bed and you say, ‘Father, tonight as I sleep, reveal yourself to me’, and you expect that God somehow may reveal himself to you that night. And in the morning as you get up from bed you say, ‘Father, I cannot live this day without your company, lead me, use me, speak to me, transform me, release your spirit through me’.
If you live a life expecting the Holy Spirit to do something in your life, he will do it. The Holy Spirit needs to be enamored, the Holy Spirit needs to be called forth. Many people say, ‘I don’t see miracles in my life’, and they resign themselves to a mediocre sort of semi natural, semi supernatural, limbo existence, being neither this nor that, because they say, ‘well, I tried, I waited and nothing happened.’
No, the Holy Spirit needs to be cultivated. He knows he’s worth and he desires to be wooed, he desires to be attracted and enamored through worship, through invitation, through cultivation, through exercise, through taking risks. As you take small risks and you dare to expect him to do something, as you open spaces for him to act, as you risk being foolish and falling on your face because you trust in the Lord and you expect him to do somehow, be he has said, ‘they shall not be ashamed who trust in me’, and as you undertake steps of faith and you say, ‘Father, I want to see your glory’, as you yearn to see the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, as you pray for the sick, as you anoint the needy, as you rebuke the enemy when you see him oppressing somebody, as you claim the blessings of God and you expect to be prospered financially and to be prospered academically in your studies and to become a victorious person and to see the glory of God manifest in your life, as you cultivate that kind of outlook, that kind of attitude, something happens, mysteriously, supernaturally the power of God begins to manifest itself in your life and you begin to see miracles.
And this is the way churches should live. I hope that we will always remain a church that while we acknowledge the sort of the framing function of the word of God which is an evangelical specialty, we will also emphasize the power of the Holy Spirit which is a distinctive of the charismatic pentecostal world. And that combination is absolutely revolutionary, explosive and atomic. We need both, we need to emphasize. These men are able to feed thousands of people with 5 loaves of bread and two fish.
I’m telling you, your gifts are 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, your life is just 5 measly loaves and 2 fish. You cannot do very much with that to tackle a whole existence. That can only mark a beginning at the very most, but in the hands of the supernatural God who takes that and blesses it and expands it, man, then marvelous, powerful things are going to happen.
I leave you with this illustration because, again, baking seems to be an obsession for me these days, my poor family, I’ve been foisting all kinds of bake stuff on them lately, and I’m going to give them a break very soon, but I’m very proud of myself. I baked my first loaf of bread just a few days ago and I won’t tell you about all the failures that I incurred in that whole process. But you know, a loaf of bread is the most marvelous thing. I’ve been studying about the chemistry of yeast.
If you don’t anything to do one day, you know, go into the Internet and study yeast. Very interesting. You know, it’s a chemical reaction and the most marvelous thing is to see one and a half, or two cups of flour with a tiny little bit of yeast and some water, you know, you just mix that up, prepare the right conditions and then see that thing rise and be multiplied in its size, because of the power of that yeast, that leavening instrument that begins to produce carbon dioxide and bubbles and that begin to inflate that mass of dough and to support it and you have this amazing structure, deliciously edible which is a freshly baked loaf of bread, because it is animated by this leaven which is inside it. Without that leaven it’s just a flat thing, very unattractive, both in taste and in appearance, but with that leaven in it, that presence, that thing becomes something beautiful, nutritious and very satisfying to look at.
And that is your life, it’s filled by the Holy Spirit, filled with the wind of the Holy Spirit, the power of God, the life of God, you become bread to the world, you become a source of nourishment, strength, inspiration, delight, solace, rest, because you are being indwelled by the life of God, the supernatural life of God.
I pray that you and I will be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says, ‘do not get drunk with wine, don’t get saturated with artificial alcohol, be drunk with the Holy Spirit’.
You see, the presence of the Holy Spirit is always alluded to in scripture with images of abundance, fullness, spilling over. Jesus said, ‘He who believes in me, rivers of living water shall jump out of his inner being’.
It’s an image of abundance. You see, and that’s a difference. You do have the Holy Spirit in you, as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit but there is something which, when you have the full abounding, just saturating and overflowing presence of the Holy Spirit, then you can give to others, you can feed others. You’re no longer like the 5 wise bridesmaids that can only have light for themselves, you can share that with others. You have life and you have nourishment for a large community because the Holy Spirit is abundant in you. That’s what we need to do, you see, it’s not enough just for you, yes, it may be enough to carry you through life, but what about others. You’ve been called to give to others, to feed others, to feed a multitude and you can do it by cultivating that supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
I hope that this church will always reserve a seat for Elijah, like the custom of the Jews. They always reserve Elijah’s chair. I pray that there will always be not one seat, but many seats for the Holy Spirit to just sit, and for the angels of God to sit comfortably and to rejoice in what we are doing and what we are undertaking as a community, that we will always celebrate and desire and open space for the supernatural gifts of God, for the moving power of the Holy Spirit.
That is the kind of church that I hope we can become one day and I prophesize this message to you and to those that will come into this place as well.
Let us stand for a moment and let us receive these impressions into our spirit, let us welcome, because this not me speaking here, this is the imprint. Somebody was praying during the weekend, give us your DNA, Father, we want your DNA. I want the DNA that is inscribed in the word of God for this community for your life as well. All of these things that I have preached can be applied to your individual life as well. If you live by them, you will be blessed and you will be used of God, so just receive that right now.
God is calling you to a full life. God is calling you to a fruitful life. God is calling you to an abundant life. God is calling you to an effective life. God is calling you to a victorious life. God is calling you to an overflowing life. God is calling you to a conquering life. God is calling you to an evangelizing life. God is calling you to a life that gives, and gives, and gives and does not run out because the power and the flow of the bounty of God is continually connecting with you and manifesting itself, and the more you give, the more you have, and the more you can contain, and the more you can give because there’s no limitations to God’s bounty.
Open your eyes to God’s inexhaustible fullness. Open your heart and open your mind to expectations of great blessing, great victory, great achievement, great success, great impact, great influence in your life by the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Right now, let that sink into you, God has called you to greatness. God has called you to wonderful achievement. God has called to an overcoming life. God has called you to be the master recycler of every experience, good or bad, you turn it into gold, you turn it into victory, you turn it into more traction for greater things. As the enemy tries to destroy you, you take those things and by the power of God in you, and by the expectation of victory you take every one of those things into more power, more fire, more wood for that fire that God wants you to build that will illuminate and heat the entire world.
Thank you, Jesus, we receive, we receive that vision, Father, we receive your ambitious promise into this community. Father, we declare that we not only will not flounder, not only will we not fail, but we will be more than conquerors. We will be more than blessed, we shall not die but rather we shall live, we shall not fail but rather we shall abundantly overcome and do great and mighty deeds because you dwell in us. I bless your people tonight, each man and woman, each young person here tonight, Father.
I pray that these words will be inscribed in their spirit, Father. I pray that these words will be established in this community for now and for ever, that these words, Father, will reverberate for as long as this building stands, and this church exists, until Jesus comes, this will be the animating values that will govern this community and Father, may they be fully realized in us. May we live to see them fully realized, we thank you, Jesus. Thank you, in your name Jesus we pray, amen and amen.