Posted by: lepages | June 1, 2010

Be eager….

My preaching notes from Sunday as we concluded our series on
Preparing for growth
“Be eager – for spiritual gifts – for God – to serve”
John 7:37-39; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Titus 2:11-14

My actual preach is available to listen to on the Rutland Road Church website here.

You need to be aware that during the week preceding this preach we looked at the possibility of purchasing some land at auction for a new church building in a more visible location where we could provide better community facilities.

Introduction

I wonder how you felt when we called a church meeting last week to consider whether we jumped in to the unexpected auction of the former Stanad’s site on Midland/Alexandra Road?

I wonder if you were like this?

(Jumping for joy!)

I know I was, I was so excited at the prospect that I said call me on holiday, if needs be, I’ll rearrange my flight and come back early (in the end I wished I could have stayed longer!! 😉 )

Maybe you weren’t excited at the thought.
Maybe you were more like this?

(A bit perplexed!)

If you haven’t heard Dave and Ian went to represent the church at the auction on Tuesday and it sold for much higher than the guideline prices – bidding started at £135000 and quickly rose to £335000 – beyond our current financial ability – we wait to see what will now happen with the site.

I wonder which of the images might have represented you when you heard the news or are hearing it now?

I guess its not hard to work out which one might represent me??!!

We are at a critical time as we Prepare for Growth

If we are to grow spiritually and numerically as a church, we need to take really seriously the call to really Love one another – not just in words, but in action. We need to move forwards in how we Worship God that we might release fresh generations to meet with God and bring their worship to him. We need to Be hospitable, welcoming in whoever the Lord brings our way that we might be a reflection of heaven with people from every tribe and language and people and nation, a place where we are not segregated by whether we are young or old, of different ethnic or cultural background, whether we are rich or poor. If we are to do all these things, then as Ian led us in our thinking last week we need to Be generous with our time, with our finances, with our possessions. But there’s another important factor if we are to see significant growth in the life of this church and its this…. We need to Be eager

What does it mean to ‘Be eager’?

The free dictionary online defines it like this:-
Having or showing keen interest, intense desire, or impatient expectancy.


I wonder if those are words which would describe your spiritual life?
Maybe for some of us, maybe not for others of us….

As we read Acts we see a people who were like that – they met to pray – and God poured out his Spirit on them. They went out to preach the gospel, leaving behind homes and families, stepping out of their comfort zones to reach people with this passionate news about Jesus. They were willing to risk their lives for this cause and some paid for it with their lives.

The reality is that the majority of the church in the West is not well described by that dictionary definition of what it means to be eager – we don’t exhibit ‘intense desire’ or ‘impatient expectancy’. There are some exceptions, churches where there are significant numbers of people living passionately for God and for the extension of his kingdom, and where they are they tend to see growth – its why we gather on a Saturday morning to pray for renewal and revival – its why we’ve added in once a month an evening of prayer and praise, to help us come to a place where we are eager for God, eager for his kingdom, eager for all he has for us – we can’t produce this in and of ourselves – its the work of the Holy Spirit and so we cry to him to do it in us. Come and join with us in doing so – come on Saturday morning, come next Sunday evening.

So, lets focus in a bit. We have this heading ‘Be eager’ but what should we be eager for?

I want to suggest to you that if we want to see this church grow numerically and spiritually as well as all the other things we have thought about in this series ‘Preparing for growth’ there are a number of things we need to be eager for.

The first thing we need to be eager for is the foundation stone for everything else.
We need to be eager for God!

Turn with me if you would to John 7:37-39

READ John 7:37-39

Thirst is something which comes to us all – we need water for our bodies to function properly. There are times when its just an absolute pleasure to have a drink and even as you take the first couple of mouthfuls it feels like you are being restored. Ahhhh….

Its the same for us spiritually. We cannot survive spiritually without coming to drink. Jesus says, ‘Come to me and drink!’ We need to come and drink afresh of his Spirit. We need to let the springs of water flow in our lives, but so often they can get blocked up by other things.

Even as I prepared this yesterday afternoon I suddenly realised I was physically thirsty – I went and poured myself a glass of coke and as I drank ahhhh…. that was good…. to be honest I hadn’t realised how thirsty I was until I began to drink.

It can be the same for us spiritually – when we come to God to drink from his Spirit, to receive afresh from him, its sometimes not only until we begin to receive that we realise how thirsty we really are.

Are you eager for more of God, eager to spend time with him, thirsty for the living water of his Spirit to refresh your spirit? Maybe you don’t feel in quite that place, but perhaps if you came to drink a little you’d find your thirst awakened and want to receive more from him.

If we want to grow as a church we need to be eager for God, because eagerness for God brings his presence amongst us – he loves to come and meet with those who are eager to meet with him – and the presence of God amongst his people draws others too.

When we know God’s presence amongst us, when we know his Spirit refreshing our lives we become eager for more of what he has to give to us.

1 Corinthians 14:1 says “eagerly desire spiritual gifts…”

Be eager for spiritual gifts
The Holy Spirit gives gifts as he chooses, but he wants us to eagerly desire them, so he inspires Paul to write “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”

Prophecy is given to strengthen, to encourage and to comfort. Those things enable us to build one another up. If we want to grow as a church we need to be a fellowship of people who build one another up, who strengthen one another, who encourage one another and who comfort one another through the tough times….. but not just in our own strength!! Why do it all ourselves, when the Holy Spirit wants to speak to us? Why don’t we eagerly desire his gifts?

Some of us were really blessed when my friend Darren came up from Borehamwood and did a workshop on prophecy back in the Autumn I think it was. At our Cell leaders meeting on Friday night we were reflecting on what it means to love God and one of the things shared was to listen to him. We should listen to him. As we come to share in worship shortly, lets be open to God, lets be eager for him to manifest his spiritual gifts amongst us, and if he speaks something to us, then lets share it and we can weigh it and be encouraged, be strengthened, be comforted, be built up.

As we are built up, as we spend time with God, so he moves our hearts so that we are

Eager to serve

Turn with me if you would to Titus 2:11-14

READ Titus 2:11-14

Eagerness to serve, to do good is not the norm in our society – there are exceptions!
Our society is obsessed with self, having a good time, doing what makes me feel good.
People count the minutes down on the clock till its time to finish work and off they go.
I was in a meeting recently which I had to leave early to get late to another meeting. Someone else had left the meeting about 20/30 minutes before me – as I cycled on my way to my next meeting I saw her coming out of the shopping centre with some fresh bags of shopping.

So often when we are centred on ourselves we miss out on the greatest blessing which comes as we do good to others.
There is a joy in doing good; there is a joy in serving others and we should not be embarrassed at having joy in blessing others, in serving God. He made us so that we find joy and fulfilment in service.

Are you eager to serve, eager to do what is good?

If you’re not, don’t go and beat yourself over the head and say ‘I must be eager to serve’ and against all your emotions force yourself to go and volunteer to serve in some way.

This passage in Titus tells us that it is God who makes us eager to serve – its God’s grace that brings salvation to us (v11). Its God’s grace and his salvation which moves our spirits to say ‘No’ to ungodly things and moves us to say ‘Yes’ to godly things.

Being eager to serve is rooted in God and its rooted in his spiritual gifts too. When God gives you a gift there is then a delight in using it – that gift may be the gift of service, it may be the gift of administration, it may be the gift of hospitality, it may be the gift of giving, it may be the gift of healing, it may be a prophetic gift, it may be a prayer gift – whatever gifts he gives there is then a delight in using them – not just in church, but in every sphere of life – delight in serving, be eager to serve in whatever ways he enables you to.
How do we come to that place of eagerness to serve, that eagerness for spiritual gifts?

It all comes out of an eagerness for God. As we delight in him, as we are filled with him, so he stirs our hearts with his heart, so that we beat as he beats and as we do so we will see his kingdom coming and his will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

And as we are stirred in that sort of way it raises for us another thing which is key if we are preparing for growth. The church is not going to grow unless we are eager for this, eager to do this, because this is how God has chosen to grow his church. We need to be eager (PP)

to share the Gospel

Eagerness to share the gospel doesn’t mean being prepared to answer some questions if someone asks you about your faith – though its good to do that. Eagerness to share the gospel means seeking out means by which we might do so. It is the gospel which brings salvation to people. It is the gospel which enables people to receive new life from Jesus and be added into the church

Jesus said in Matthew 28:19,20:

“Go, and make disciples of all nations”

He didn’t say ‘Witness for me if you get an opportunity’, he said ‘Go and do it!!’

Our church tag line is ‘Making God known’

I’m not sure how well we’ve been doing at fulfilling that over the last few years. Yes, there’s been delight over some coming to faith. Yes, folk have shared their faith – there’s a few stones in the jar over there, along with one signifying an invite to our Y course in the Autumn – if you’ve shared your faith, each time you do, put a stone in to encourage others. But as a church, as a body, how effective have we been in going out to deliberately share the gospel with others.

I can’t help but wonder whether we have been held back from getting the Stanad’s site because as a church we have not yet fully taken on board what we need to be about if we are to see significant growth occurring, and its not going to happen until we are eager to share the gospel – and again, the response to this should not be to beat ourselves over the head and say ‘I must go and grab the first person I see, tell them they’re a sinner and they need a Saviour, and would they like to pray a prayer with me’.

What motivates us to share the gospel?
Jesus said in Acts 1:8
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses…”

We need to be eager for God, we need to be thirsty for his Spirit. When we are filled with him, then we will be eager to see him manifesting his gifts in us and through us and amongst us, then we will be eager to serve because we will be motivated by the joy of using the gifts he has given to us, then we will be eager to share the gospel with others because we will be filled with his power to do so.

When these things happen then we will be prepared for growth – we will love and serve one another, we will worship out of delight and joy in the Lord’s presence, we will be hospitable, welcoming others in to come and share with us, welcoming others into our homes, then out of the bounty that we have received we will be generous and share our time, our finances and our possessions, we will be eager to share the gospel, to serve, to receive his gifts and its all rooted in this, we need to Be eager for God
Prayer

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