Wednesday, December 3, 2014
This message was preached by STEVE OLIVER at THE HUB , the annual conference of Regions Beyond, an apostolic sphere that is a part of Newfrontiers, an international family of churches joined in apostolic partnership.
Prayer is important. WE pray a lot in our staff meetings. We worship lot. Diversity comes through in the worship as well.
Our journey as Regions Beyond has been exciting, challenging and far more extensive than I ever believed. It began with a few friends with a call to the nations and gradually God has handpicked you to join this family.
This is a launch pad for great things. In terms of transition/change my default is to find a story/passage that will be a template for this change. Scripture becomes a foundation for the change.
Hudson Tylor – I have often realized that without months of feasting… I have learned to obtain successful labor… first, earnest prayer to go, and the deepening of the Christian life so that men and women will be unable to stay at home”
The apostolic is not here to raise ways and means but to go and do the work.
The word of God undergirds all that we do. As a leader you have to speak the big things that God has spoken. If you live there people will join you.
I am living with the promise in Clarence 1997. I was struggling to raise leders. I was advised to lower the bar.
1 Chro 12
I want to take you to a picture of David’s life – 3 days of celebration and lots of lessons to learn from there.
David had been on the run and his heart was shaped while he was on the run. He transforms a rag tag army into a great army with God. Jerusalem was taken and God established a people. The first task was done. This is what God has done for us as well.
There are more good stories and some pitiful ones – that’s why prayers is important. Topy’s word “first a son” is important.
Verse 38 Many thousands had gathered in Hebron for the purpose of seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises. All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They all came to Hebron to fulfill a promise. The men spent 3 days – the “Hebron Hub”. Families were providing provisions. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, resins cakes etc.
These people have been formed by the hand of God. We are here for a common vision and purpose not to set up a King
4 actions points
1. To build a relationally strong family – What God brings together is great. We honour the past and embrace the future. We are more concerned about the well being of others than our own needs.
2. Strengthen existing churches – It’s only when we have strong healthy churches can we go forward. A local church is not functioning properly is not caught up with Apostolic vision. Go back and envision your people.
3. Many more churches planted. This will be our focus. Think how many lives get affected because your church got planted.
4. Continue to embrace the poor. Seventy percent of the unreached people fall into this category. God did not call us to care for the poor but to lift them up from the ash heap to be coequal partners in world mission.
As we look at the 3 day event.
Substantial skill gathered together. Humility – mighty men willing to join the ranks. Mutual recognition of the gifting.
Determination, sharing, generosity, collaboration.
As we are called to the nations what we see here should describe us.
4 things to learn
1. They came from humble beginnings. Always know where we’ve come from, where we started. Bill Hyble – “My biggest concern for leadership is arrogance”. We need to watch ourselves. We are a rescued people. As we go down we are exalted. These were men of war who could keep their rank” these were substantial men of caliber. These were warriors who were greater than their leader. God is adding people of caliber to us. Are you happy to be in the ranks?
FB Meyer -“too many like to break the ranks and do Gods work independently” 50 men tighter can do more than 500 can do apart. Be faithful with God has given you.
2. They were captivated by a common vision. They came to Hebron fully determined. If we can find clarity of who we are together we can do a lot. Common vision is important.
1 Cro12:13 bringing back the ark
There will be tough times. Saul’s men suddenly appear. David invites them provided they have come in peace.
V 18 then the spirit of God comes upon Amasiah. God joins us a one and Amasiah says “ We are yours..” We need to have Amasiah moments when we give ourselves.]
“Devotion is relinquishing our rights and individualism” Terry Virgo
3. Diversity in the details – the flour, wine, oil, cattle sheep etc. they had not seen a common together with a common purpose. It’s an Acts 2 moment. There was no need. Everyone in Jerusalem were in awe. They gave of themselves to one another.
B Hyble - Unity is not a vision but a fruit of God working in our hearts.
4 Generous community – The chronicler wants us to see the detail- resins cake, gif cakes etc look at the food! It’s the same thing. The queen of sheeba also remarked about Solomon’s table.
God says you build my way and people will come to see my presence. They were mindful of one another. It is not easy. When the church was birthed 97% were poor. It’s in that context that people shared. God had put it into their hearts. It was not arm twisting.
The common purse shows amazing ability of the disciples to love one another. If we can get this right across the nations!!!
It ends with saying that there was great joy in Israel. You see the church come alive. We can do this. What a might army God has put together! What it will take is for leaders to stand in humility.
This message was preached by RAY LOWE at THE HUB , the annual conference of Regions Beyond, an apostolic sphere that is a part of Newfrontiers, an international family of churches joined in apostolic partnership.
HOW ARE WE TO BE AN EFFECTIVE APOSTOLIC PEOPLE IN THE FACE OF OPPOSITION – RAY LOWE
We were in Clarence which had gone through a tough time with Steve Oliver left to come to Dubai. People left, leaders had fallen. It was not easy.
In Acts 20 it’s an emotional meeting taking place. There were riots in Ephesus because of the church.
“You know” is a phrase that comes many times. Paul and Peter warned the church of impending trouble. Paul warns if wolves in sheep’s clothing, people with their own agendas. Whilst we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, opposition does come in the form of flesh and blood.
Many people have come to Christ in Ephesus – temple prostitutes, those who practiced occult, black magic etc. The riots Paul understood were demonic opposition. Don’t be surprised by backlash. Elders watch out- Peter says the devil is like a roaring lion – resist him. All over the world your brothers are facing the same thing.
The early church knew that the protection under the Roman government was coming to an end and there would be persecution.
We must not anything that will give Satan a foothold. We must understand this that God and Satan are not equal- that was unmistakably demonstrated on the cross.
Tom Wright quotes – we are in the victory of Calvary, but there are battles to be fought. Paul was not just a preacher/teacher but he was a role model. This letter Paul writes is not a letter of correction but a reminder. Peter does the same thing.
1. Eph4:1-6 Paul is emphasizing – of genuine unity and oneness. Our calling is not our ministry but to be in Jesus and within that there is a call.
“I urge you” Speaks of priority, urgency. We are to work as one – this is what keeps the devil from getting a stronghold.
“Be completely humble” – this is not an option.
“Make every effort” this has to be worked at, it not easy.
We have 2000 years of history that is not good. It’s fraught with lots of division. So many heroes of faith fell out on doctrine. What might have happened if these guys got it together?
Luke writes of the “temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus was weak in body but powerful in the Spirit. Satan tempts him with bread. If Jesus gave in there would be no trinity!! “Father make us one even as we are one . Satan’s ploy has always been to divide. HE did it in the garden between man and God. With Jesus he failed. But the church has fared miserably on this. We need to preserve the unity in the bond of peace.
2.The key role of leadership is another thing he emphasized.
Leadership is key- whether in business, church. If leaders don’t get it right people won’t. We are to keep watch over ourselves. Eldership has to be friends. We need openness, honesty, accountability. If we can’t talk about something we have opened the door for Satan.
Eldership is not a job- it’s the Holy Spirit who sets them apart and it’s an awesome calling.
Paul spent 2.5 years in Ephesus- the men were pagans, polytheistic and yet in 2.5 years he had elders. That should tell us something. Don’t need to wait forever!!Paul was not in for personal gain. He has a good conscience before God. Paul labored among them and from house to house. Paul was not just an example of integrity but an example of a man of the Holy Spirit.
He knew that his job was to turn Ephesus upside down for Jesus. He knew he could not do it alone. He knew he needed the people full of the Holy Spirit.
They learned from Paul’s example. We are slow to learn from one another’s life these days.
We have become very forensic with scripture that we loose what’s there. If the Holy Spirit wanted to say more he would have instructed Luke to write more!!!
In conclusion- Scars and struggles make you grow up. What you need is the Holy Spirit. We grow up and we find out who we are.
All this is so that we can go into the world and not so that we can get better.
God wants fire!! We need to be biblical but do not do anything to limit the power of God. We need the Holy Spirit. Keep being filled with the Holy Spirit.
This message was preached by Terry Virgo at THE HUB , the annual conference of Regions Beyond, an apostolic sphere that is a part of Newfrontiers, an international family of churches joined in apostolic partnership.
We are living with passion about re positioning for maximum impact. I think of the valley of dry bones that was re positioned for maximum impact.
1Sam18:5 -16, 19:1, 20:1-2, 22:1-2, I Cro 12:22
God is looking for men and women whom he can breathe fresh promises over. You have promises and suddenly you hit problems. That’s always God’s way.
How God does choose a man? He did not start with Jacob who had 12 sons but with Abraham who had none. Abraham’s wife was barren. God works with an impossible situation. He starts with a people who seem insignificant (David was the youngest) .
Paul writes to the church in Corinth when they were being ensnared with all kinds of things that are not the gospel, all kinds of worldly wisdom, arrogance, pride etc. Paul reminds them “I will destroy he wisdom of the wise. God will destroy the culture that does not need God.
God loves his creation but he has seen it being destroyed by wisdom that does not come from God. Through the gospel we will be humbled and bring them to the ground. God chooses the foolish things of this world.
Gideon was the least. God called him and the Holy Spirit comes upon him. God always does something contrary to human wisdom. Paul spoke to the Galatians to come back to the truth.
So David – God came upon him. Today we have a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit like we have not see. David started with a harp and a sling but he finished with a great army and a temple. God takes faithfulness and blesses it.
David was a loyal captain in Saul’s army . He wins great battles……….. Saul is moved to jealousy and then there is unfair opposition.Saul started well but he did not come through.
As a leader pressures come, we look for ministry but God looks for character. We look for success God looks for faithfulness. In ministry is often shocking where opposition come s from. For David it comes from within Israel itself. People will challenge your motivation. The same happened with Nehemiah- he wanted to build the city but people questioned his motive.
A warning to us – that we don’t get challenged by the next anointing that God raises up. We need to guard our hearts. Be careful when fresh leaders are coming through. Never speak against other churches, groups that God is blessing.
For David it is a pruning thing – we go through pressures where you feel restricted and limited in a church planting situation. We are often in a “basement moment” where foundations are being built. There is joy in the basement. Paul writes to the Philippians from prison and it’s the most joyous letter.
You can be in times of fruitfulness and success then again be cut back. It’s a pruning happening. How we handle ourselves during this time is important. You feel cut back but because you came through, you don’t know what God will do at the end of that. Paul was in prison for 2 years.
Rose bushes are pruned down to a stump before spring. Even old bushes are pruned, It’s painful and tough. “One of the worst things that can happen to a young man is early advance” M. L . Jones. 95% of church plants fail because of wrong methodology that depends on worldly wisdom. God is not fascinated with it, in fact he is at war with worldly wisdom.
God is raising up an army whose values system is very different. Jesus did not come to Rome or Greece but to Nazareth!! HE came to nothingness. HE grew up as a tender shoot; he learned obedience to the point of death. The gospel is foolishness to the wise. He is looking for us to trust Him and demonstrated trust in Him.
God is looking for people who will not retaliate. God wants a heart that is pure – that will not hit back. David’s men watched how he lived. That is how you build your core team. You build your core around steadfastness and faithfulness and consistency.
Are we willing to please God? We should not listen to close friend or even our spouses who encourage you to fight back. Wait for God to do it for you. David learned to wait for God.
It’s positive character that will under gird the army of God. It’s internal skill and heart issues that matter. David did not give into self pity but battled it. We have to learn not to yield. God is interested in building character and gifts will be added to it. Don’t chase it.
Another temptation: to give up and go back to secular employment, leave the church and join another church because you are bitter. David knew what it was to stand.
What was the fruit he received?
1Sam18 Jonathan loved him and made a covenant with him. HE found a brother that really loved him. This how we build. It’s a tragedy when we see loneliness, hire & fire in the church. God wants hearts joined – inter woven in love and caring for one another.
Hire and fire is foreign to the house of God. Jesus said “All that you gave me, I have not lost one of them” , except Judas. WE are not merely trying to be successful; we are building a different value system.
Sometimes a big work can be very fragmented. 1Cor12:8 Before there was a public acknowledging of David there were men who felt drawn to him. WE can grow in peace and in a peaceful pace because “all that the father has given me will come to me”. These people came to David. They are mighty men now, not the depressed etc that had come initially. They were drawn to him. They gave themselves to David. Cone could say this is dangerous – like a cult. No this wa the work of the Holy Spirit. These were not “yes men” but “mighty men
In spite of being strong and gifted they gave themselves to David
This will happen with leaders in your church when they come to you and give themselves first to God and to you. They were willing, gifted and devoted. They did it with an undivided heart. WE need to build teams that are of one heart. WE need a team that does not disagree with you in the corridors. Good team has vulnerability where you can say “ I need help”. Good teams know how to disagree in the room face to face.
Sometimes teams don’t work because the team leader is too gifted and the others are clones .The team leaders should give great freedom to the team members. Team members should be able to disagree- not clones, you should be able to ask questions, talk about it etc.
Sometimes a leader has to make a call. We should do everything in prayer. So there is harmony that is not spooky. The unbelievers see a community of love that is foreign to the world. The army of God is going through all kinds of discipline. So David not only replaced Saul but raised up an army established a kingdom, built a temple.
So wait fro God’s timing, know he is working for out good. Be ambitious to see others succeed. Learn to handle people who hurt us. The basement affects the size of the house.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
This message was preached by Tope Koleoso at THE HUB , the annual conference of Regions Beyond, an apostolic sphere that is a part of Newfrontiers, an international family of churches joined in apostolic partnership.
PREPOSTIONED ON PURPOSE - Tope Koleoso Session 2
Acts 17:26- 28, John 7:37-
I am reminded of the chapter in Thessalonians where Paul is just adding so many things towards the end. I am going to just say a whole lot of stuff. But there are three things I want to share with you.
1. Diversity 2. Integrity 3. Authority,
God has called you to go – Your going has to be purposeful but there are things to keep in mind.
Acts 17 Paul talks about God who made the world and everything in it. He is not in need of anything for He gives life and breath to everything. We need to find him but he is not far from us. Diversity is not just a good idea it is God’s idea.
In Genesis you see diversity from verse 11 onwards – God made different kinds of plants, flowers, fruits , fish, birds animals. If you asked God why did he do this? He’d say I love it. God loves diversity!! Man gets so full of himself! We than that we have made it when we have actually only discovered things!!
God made diversity from unity. You want to see majesty? See how He made things with one word!! WE are made by God See Ps 139God knows you because He has made you and loves you just the way you are! In a fallen word this diversity is used for evil and creates hatred and discord. It is sin when you have tribalism/castism in a nation. There is wickedness in this world. Because it’s gone so wary God has a plan – he calls the church to be a light and to demonstrate what He intended!
In our celebration today we are rehearsing heaven. Therefore we must take it seriously, what God is teaching you. God is re-positioning you for maximum impact. God s setting you up in a position for something he wants done.
He is positioning you for something great and grand. Don’t let go of this diversity for good doctrine. Good doctrine is good only when its being lived out!! Celebrate diversity.
Be biblically persuaded Mal2:10. Acts17 Rev 5:9 Rev 7:9
WE are made from one man. We should be biblically persuaded not just because it is a good idea. Biblical persuasion is what will keep you in tough times. We let the Word of God dictate our lives. We teach scripture intentionally and build wisely. By wisdom a house is built and w this we will go beyond just integration to acceptance. The law integrates but cannot love.
We will go beyond tolerance to real love. Tolerance is I won’t harm you – we will co exist. We go beyond that to real love and allowing the gospel to change us for his glory. The people see but can’t explain it. We can go from natural culture to kingdom culture.
2 INTEGRITY as a SHEPHERD.
There is a call upon us as a people. There is something about this sphere! When people know God is in the house people don’t want to be left behind. We are a part of something bigger.
Very few images are as powerful as a shepherd and sheep.
There are something’s that you never leave behind or leave out or you will be found out! “The enemy is happy to wait for your weak moment” Terry Virgo. So be careful!!
Remember that you are first a sheep before you are a shepherd. Do not shepherd till you run out of the flow, energy and anointing. You can still do it because you know the drill but it’s empty. What is your own daily devotion like? As the church grows don’t forget that you are first a son. You are a sheep too, so stay close to the shepherd. The more we stay close to Him we will go far in God! It’s easy to fake it and what people will not know.
Be sure that your time with God is guarded. A good devotional life is where you go to God to find your identity. God calls you a son! When you get that inside you can handle everything. It’s not your church but God’s church.
In our devotional time you should look for an encounter with God no matter how small. A good devotional life is where you get purified. It’s a moment of honesty and he does not condemn. It’s a moment of vibrancy and dependency on God.
Remember you are an under shepherd. Pay attention to your shepherd and the flock. A sending church should be a strong church. Not just in doctrine but in spirit and life, Christ in you the hope of the people meat and not chaff. We direct, lead, protect but we are never condemning- it’s a grace filled atmosphere. How do you grow a church? On your knees.
Feed your church well – slowly over time, carefully, methodically and then you will go to the regions beyond.
Do not settle for what God has not put on your heart. We should do whatever we can to share the gospel. Its not size for size sake but for gospel advance. You are a kingdom agent.
Be careful of doing things the modern way instead of the Shepherds’ way, where it begins to look like an organization. This is offensive to the almighty. It’s frightening to build something that gets flattened.
Looks for success
Looks for faithfulness
Focus in training management style
Looks for spiritual gifting
Calling , anointing
Looks for large crowds
Looks for large people
Focus on discipleship
Dependent on processes and systems
Dependent on the Holy Spirit
Hire and fire
Raises up people
Remember your authority as a leader. Remember God has given you this authority. The church in the west does not need more money or facilities. It needs prayer. That’s the first thing that gets shifted out. See the New Testament church, how much they prayed. The modern day church has given up on prayer and its dependence on God.
Prayer is vital and as a leader be there. Call upon me and I will answer you. That is the authority of the Christian. Pray your children back into the fold.
It’s a call to power. I am concerned that we do not see miracles in the order that we believers talk about so much, Pray for it, we need to see it here.
Stop criticizing others who have miracles but weak theology. The point is God turns up there so have humility. People are watching miracles in meeting on TV because we don’t have miracles in our churches. Be hungry for it and seek it.
We need good theology and the power of the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders. Rom 15. Don’t settle for anything less. Matt4, Mk1, Sometimes Jesus only did signs and wonders. The west has settled for counseling. We have power and authority as a believer. Don’t let anyone steal that from you.
The vital place of spiritual fullness is the Holy Spirit. Jn7:37 You might feel freshly awakened by God today . Jesus says if any man is thirsty come… We all need to be filled again and again. You cannot continue to minister without being filled.
This message was preached by Franco Lonappan at THE HUB , the annual conference of Regions Beyond, an apostolic sphere that is a part of Newfrontiers, an international family of churches joined in apostolic partnership.
Let’s Go! Franco Lonappan . THE HUB 2014 Session 1
2 Kings 6:1-7
This scenario is similar to church life. They felt the place was too small. Elisha’s fame was increasing and they were growing. Elisha did not think about planting out but the people came to him and told him it was time to take new ground and take some initiatives.
Jesus said “I will build my church” anything healthy will grow. Anything healthy will need more space.
Is 54 Introduces the church? “Sing O barren woman”.
Your descendants will dispossess the nations. We are here to go to the ends of the earth.
1) Let’s go – the sons of the prophet said “Let’s go” Let’s plant out. Elisha said “Go” Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations”
God wants to commission us to go and reach new communities. Many will be re commissioned.
God’s first words to Abraham was “go” to a new country (Gen12)
Acts 7: Stephen starts the story of the Bible with “go”
Our Story starts with “go and make disciples…”
Mk37-38 Jesus said “Let’s go” to the other side because he wanted to preach. That is why he had come.
Mk.4:35 Jesus goes to the other side. There is one demon possessed man- through him the region is saved.
2001 – Stoneleigh the theme was “let’s go!”
2 Cor. 10:14 they wanted to go to the regions beyond.
We need to have a lets go attitude. Jonathan and his armour bearer- because they went they had great victory. Sometimes we can be hesitant to take new ground. God is coming with a spirit of encouragement. There are new things that God has assigned for you. There is no dead end in God. God is gracious and kind.
God is looking for individuals who will say “let’s go” and take initiative.
2. God is with us – As we take steps of faith and take initiative God will go with us. The prayer of Moses . God says “My presence will go with you” Matt28:20 surely I will be with you always” Emmanuel – God with us. God’s authority and power will be with us. God is going before us, with us, behind us as we take steps of faith.
Ray’s prophesy of the locomotive train that pushes against obstacles put on the track encourages us to know that we will push through difficulties and obstacles because God is with us. Apart from Him we can do nothing.
3. There will be disappointments .When you decide to take new ground you will face opposition. But these are opportunities to see God do the miraculous. Mission creates an atmosphere and opportunities for the miraculous.
Rom4:17 God who calls things that are not, as though they are.
In the NT we live in the resurrection power of God. It’s working in us. If you are in a place of disappointment its time to call things that are not as though they are.
As we step out we will experience God working through us.
V7. “Lift it out”. There are acts of faith that are needed where we have to reach and take it. We need to take it up and not miss opportunities. You know what God is showing you. If you can’t see it, ask God to show you – like the axe head to float.
Steve Oliver spoke some things to the churches in India. I feel for us too. There are some things we have to lay down in order to take up some things. For some of us our gifting has gone blunt- we need to take it up again.
God has brought you here for a purpose to divinely position you for maximum impact.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
This message was preached by Nigel Pereira at The Glorious Church Conference held in Mumbai in Oct 2014. For the audio please click here.
God has always been about saving the nations. He told Abraham that he would be Father of nations. And through history, we see that there is a progression of how it’s taken hold of by different people. First it was individuals taking hold of it.
After Abraham, there was Isaac and then we see a Family- the family of Jacob taking hold of the promise. And through him, a people emerged who believed in the same God and the same promise because of which they cry out to God. If God chose them, that he will lead them out of their slavery to the Promise land.
God’s plan from then on has been a people- a community. If you ever want to see what God is doing, you look at his people. The world will be reached by the effectiveness of this group of people. And the effectiveness of these people to change the world is decided by a few people who are the leaders that God raises up.
A leader was raised- Moses; Joshua; the judges; the kings… God would raise a leader to raise these people.
We need to observe the leader who was raised up and the people around him. God’s plan to save the world is through a people and a people are given a leader.
David and the people around him. Though we are in 2014, God is still about the same plan. But who are God’s people today?
As we look at the people around David, we understand who we are and what we are about.
Saul was jealous of David and was trying to kill him and David was running from him for a large portion of his life. And at this time, in 1 Samuel 22:2 we see the kind of people who come to David.
1. God chooses us: God chooses a ragtag band of people. But David established a kingdom which started out here. What are they coming to David for? Because they are distressed, broke, and were in want. But these were the initial days. David was not even a King, but these guys were going to be the nucleus in the kingdom of David. It doesn’t take a great man for God to use him. He uses anyone. In God’s scheme of things, it’s the nobodies who are called.
How do we know God chose them? They showed up! They did not know what they were going to become. You and I are the nucleus of something great God is doing and we know that because we showed up. They came to be saved and became ones who will save. God was building through them an awesome kingdom.
God chose you for wider purposes with your church. We are at the beginning of something great that God is doing!
They gathered to David who was not yet a leader. God is choosing leaders all the time. Though there is Saul, another king is being raised up. How do we know this?
1 Tim 3:1- God puts in the hearts of men desire to lead God’s people. Even as the present leaders lead, others are being raised up. David did not have the best bunch, but they were enough.
2. There is a step up from just being chosen and saved: That is being joined together.
1 Chronicles 11:10-
A bunch of people who’ve come and give his leadership strong support. God chooses people and joins them to a leader. The kingdom of God is not built without these connections. If there’s a great kingdom to be built, this relationship is vital.
When we look at what David built in his lifetime, it’s because these men went up and said in 1 Chronicles 12:18- “We are yours, David! We are with you, son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you.”
But most leaders have to face stone throwing before someone will commit- 1 Samuel 30:6
There is no shortcut to this kind of leadership. There are times in a leader’s life when people are indifferent- it’s a different time. But later, these same guys get joined to David.
Phil 1:3- a community that’s linked relationally- a whole community rises t do something for God. Leaders are related other leader.
This message was preached by Pete Harwood,at The Glorious Church conference held in Mumbai 2014.
Everyone has a dream- desire to prosper. Many in India are determined to achieve this no matter what the cost. As Christ followers we too can be shaped up by this thinking. What do “I” want to do with my life? What will make me happy, my family happy? So often, we make our own plans and based on our desires, and we forget to ask what God wants me to do.
2000 years ago, in the Roman era, a new time of peace began and travel was easy, everyone spoke Greek so there were lots of opportunities to make money. The Jews were good at business and hungry for wealth. And some of the church members were chasing these as well. James was forced to address this issue as well.
James is saying that everyone is acting like they are the Big Boss. But they are not. In verse 13, these Jewish businessmen were making plans for the future. When and where and for how long they were going- what they would do, etc. They were so confident of making money.
This was perfectly normal to hear from an unbeliever businessman. James is shocked that believers are talking like this. How do we know they are believers? He would not have this expectation. So Christian Businessmen are making bold strategies for growth.
What’s wrong with that? Does James have a problem with making money? No.
The problem is that they were planning their future as though God does not exist.
Some of you may be thinking- Great! This sermon is about business and does not relate to me. But the passage relates to all of us- to make plans without including God. May be it’s your job or the place where you live, you want to better your lifestyle, or job prospects…
We may pray about it but often we have already made up our minds and we want God to bless our plans. We are in control of our lives.
Whatever you might think you are not the Big Boss. James tells us that these people not only make plans but are boasting.
James uses a rare word for “arrogance” – it’s used for people who think that they are better than they really are. All this boasting is empty because you do not know what tomorrow will bring. You could suffer loss, or get cheated etc. So many things can happen that can affect their plan.
James reminds them that they don’t know the future. Our lives are like a mist. What was wrong with these people? Why were they behaving like this? If I ask you today if you have control over your future, you will say, “of course not”.
So many unexpected things happen in life and it changes your whole life.
No matter how carefully we plan for the future, we don’t know everything that is going to happen. Our lives are over in a few short years. The world will tell you that you don’t need God. Be independent, take charge- go for it, be the boss.
But the Bible says that it’s a lie. There is a better way to live. That way is to acknowledge that God is the Big Boss. Trust in God.
How do we do it?
1. Acknowledge- Verse 15 speaks about the will of God. The Bible teaches us that God is in control. Proverbs 19:21- “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” The Old Testament teaches clearly that nothing happens unless God allows it.
Paul says in 1 Cor 4:19- “if the Lord wills…”. Paul acknowledges the will of God. He does not sit idle but makes bold plans but acknowledges that his plans are in the hands of God. God is sovereign- whatever plans we make will come to pass if God wills it.
2. We need to embrace God’s will for our lives. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin”. These businessmen James was addressing to, knew the truth but were not living it out. Just praying about it is not enough. Lay hold of God’s will for your life.
God in His mercy has made it easy for us. Inspite of our rebellion he reached out to us in love. He sent his son Jesus to come and live amongst us, to die and reconcile us to God, to bring us back into a relationship of dependence.
When we do this, it’s the beginning of a whole new lifestyle. We do not believe in Jesus and continue living life as usual. We are living out our life unto Christ and living as an example.
Q. How do we know what God wants us to do?
This question has vexed more Christians than any other question. We tie ourselves in knots trying to find out. We spend too much time thinking on what God has not told us to do rather than focus on what is clear. Read the Bible, learn what pleases him and ask the Holy Spirit to help you live it out. It sounds easy.
Often these decisions are not directly addressed in the Bible- What job, where do I live, who do I marry? We mustn’t allow fear of making mistakes stop us. God loves us so much that he will redirect our path.