Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GATHER 2016 IGATPURI | Island Lessons Titus Part 3- Steve O

This message was preached by Steve Oliver who leads Regions Beyond , an apostolic sphere that is a part of Newfrontiers Intl. This was preached at the Gather 2016 leaders Conference held in Igatpuri India.  

For the audio link please  click here
For Part 1 please click here Part 2 please click here.

We are going to continue with Pauls letter. This young Greek has been left on the island and he has work to do on behalf on Paul. He was a good Christian. Why do you think Paul sent Titus with the letter to the Corinthians? Why did he select him?

One of the other reasons was because Titus was Greek. And Corinth was in  Acacia which is Greek. So he needed someone who could carry in heart in the context. Many lessons to learn from that.
He reminds Titus that he is writing as a servant and as an apostle

My true child: If you’ve been around me for a while you may have heard me speak on this verse “ Timothy my true son in the Lord” One of the things the modern church has lost is the intimacy of raising leaders. It has become almost fashionable to base your church on a commercial model. So even when you into the church in the  United States the terminology they use is the same as a business. He is the “president of the youth group”. I appointed him etc.
We don’t know where Paul found Titus but he is able to say to him my true child. The Greek word is “teknon” i.e It’s the same word you would use to refer to your child. It’s not some leader that I put an advert in some Christian magazine and I got him. One of our worship leaders was “headhunted”. Have we forgotten our Bibles?

Paul produced sons. Paul meets Titus and sees that God’s spirit is upon him. If I can train him and do the role of a father to him, provide security, affirmation, belief my resources become yours then I can birth a spiritual child. Its intimate. Ask a mother who births a child. Isn’t child birth an incredible thing?? You see the mother when she is handed the baby for the first time – I this is mine! It’s a part of me. This is the language that Paul uses
Sadly, in many churches most leaders are just mangers or slaves of the leader. They get given tasks, get measured and held accountable. But not many sons. Paul says you are an heir to my property. It means all that I own will be his one day.

I have put this in bold letters in my notes. This is probably one of our greatest call at present – Yours to count on!!!! There are so many areas we can go plant churches but we don’t have sons. WE need to raise and release them. We need to model life for them and we need to birth these spiritual children in our churches. Secure, sharing in our inheritance, sharing at the table.

This is the biggest call I believe as we go forward.
Many years before in Dihlabeng church we taught on mentoring and discipleship. And we told everybody find someone to disciple you and you to disciple someone. AS a leader for us to say someone and say I can help you. For those in leadership if you don’t have five people you are investing you won’t see those trees being born.

Titus has been travelling in an apostolic team, seen signs and wonders, churches being born and suddenly the day comes when Paul says tomorrow we sail but Titus I want you to stay and finish the work that we have started. Then he gets this letter from Paul – My true child. I’m sure he just got a letter on a scroll. He must have felt so good. I belong to someone. I’m not an orphan or a missionary sent by some organisation.

If you want to see God’s heart on this see the Transfiguration. Here is Jesus in his true identity. And then come s those beautiful words: This is my beloved son whom I love, listen to Him. Paul is following a Godly pattern.

Let me say something to you in India because you have a history here. Your sons and daughters are not slaves. You are there for their success to make sure that their life is better than your life. There is nothing better. Your heart swells when they do well.

Grace and peace –
The context of leadership in church is warfare. It’s like fighting a war like darkness against light.To succeed in what he had to do he had to have the grace of God. Paul is writing Grace and peace to you – without it you will not succeed. Paul trusted in that more than his own presence with Titus. We know what Grace is.

 When I was a young believer and joined a Newfrontiers church you only heard this word Grace all the time. I didn’t know what it meant. But one through teaching I understand it’s that favour of God that we are given that we don’t deserve and can’t earn. Its just God coming and giving his favour to a situation. Titus for you to overcome all you need is the grace of God or you will be in trouble. Ministry is like that. Sometimes I feel like Peter stepping on out onto water. I call this the panic zone because unless God is in it I am going down. Church planting is like that. We want God’s favour and grace upon us.

We are in a supernatural battle therefore we need supernatural favour. The devil wanted to sift Peter but Jesus protected him. The grace of God kept him. How many times we have been protected by the grace of God!

Band of brothers is a TV series I like – It’s about a  Platoon of GI soldiers who come to rescue Europe from the Nazi’s. The captain is a paratrooper dropped behind enemy lines. This captain and his soldiers are going into a battle situation where the odds of survival are very low. They are in a bad state. These two commanders one leaving and one arriving. They meet and the guy leaving says Captain do you realize that when you are up there you will be totally surrounded. Captain Winters replies, Sir we are paratroopers. WE are meant to be surrounded.

I am a church planter. Its meant to be tough. I am taken ground from the enemy. I am working with broken people who think sexual immorality is ok. We need to rediscover that passion that comes from working with the grace of God. Paul knows that Titus has got to be robust.

Jesus tells the story that he is the good shepherd and not a hired hand. So when the wolves come you won’t run away. We need to get to the point where we see struggles as blessings where they teach us things and put strength into us.

This is a prophetic moment now
Verse 5 – this is why I left you in Crete …  These words spoke to me more from this whole book. If we are to fulfill our mandate to plant new testament church across the world we will have to leave people behind in difficult situations.

Donna wrote I booked a ticket to Burundi. I have been warned by my government, leaders and friends that I should not go there because they are on the brink of civil war. But God has told me to go. What do you think? What can I say? We had to send her off and pray. The pictures start coming. She is doing an apostolic work.

As we go forward and we leave from here we will have to send people and leave them in areas. If we have to do that then we need to build a culture of being left. There are many church planters in this room so I don’t need to explain how lonely it is.

It is not easy to be left. If you like write sent. Its starts with sending and then leaving. Those who are sent are usually in a very dynamic church situation. You send your best and they have to leave fabulous community. You are used to having people around you. The sounds are different. The smells. All you have is some promises that we are praying for you. You have been left to finish a work. Loneliness is a massive enemy. When we went Clarence the loneliness being in the country. Its costly. The family ask why do you want to go there? We will disown you.

My longing is that we will be an apostolic people group where we all are caught up in mission.

The Moravians in the 1800s – qualified people felt called to go to the slaves that were being forcibly taken out of Africa. So they sold themselves as slaves in order to reach the slaves. After a week or two you can’t buy yourself out. This was for life!!! The early missionaries that came to countries like yours packed their belongings in coffins.

If we are to be a people group that follow God, we will leave people behind. Paul like Jesus entrusted this task to the young Greek.

What is my definition of being left?
Mums and dads. Leaders, sending your best. Your loved ones. The mark of an Apostle is that they open up new things and then entrust it to others. They open something up get the basic foundation in place and then get a Titus to take it forward.

How do you succeed if you are one of those left ones?

This is so important. I wish I knew this earlier.
1.You want a clear calling from God. You must have your own calling. You may ask people to do something but ask them to seek God as well.

2.Promises that confirm that you need to be there and why you are there. There will be days when you will wake up and think, what have I done? Why did I leave that church, why did I leave that business, why did I leave my family? When they ask are you sure you heard God correctly. You should be able to say, because God said not because Steve or Franco etc.
That is what its meant to be an apostolic people sent by God not by Head office.

3 Courage – we need to teach on courage. Caleb and Joshua. Men of courage. Esther women of courage. You need courage to do the work of God you need to press through and deal with some things.

4. Biblical conviction. Simon Petit one of our leaders and great friend. I was talking to him about doing something. He asked me whether I had biblical/scriptural confirmation as to whether I should do it. In front of my Bible I have written. This is from UK and Master Builders. You will change wells into springs.
When things get though you can go back to scripture. Scripture has a way of lift us up. Comfort means to fortify. Terry Vigo taught me this. I’ll send you a Comforter – he is not a cuddly blanket. That is the work of the spirit. He reminds you that you have some muscle. And if you don’t have He has real muscle to carry you and fortify you. That is what Scripture does.

Bill Hyble teaches all leaders to have life verses. Find verses that you know your life is founded on. These pile ons that you have in India. Big concrete /steel that is put into the ground. Your life verses as like that concrete footing. When you feel wobbly you go back to them and find comfort. For me Ps 84 is my one.

5. Prayer support and encouragement. If you have to survive being left you want prayer support and encouragement. I spoke about encouragement yesterday. We need to become excellent at encouraging others. Just going up and saying “Donald you did so well today” You are doing so well up North. Not flattery. I’ll give you an example – “Franco you look good with a beard!!!”. Encouragement!! When I was at Gateway on Friday I told them don’t forget your son and daughter from here. Pankaj and Tressa.

6. You need friends- Those who believe with you. Those who understand why you laid so much down. If you are a friend to someone else don’t forget them.
Our first Christmas on our own. We had just planted out in November. This box arrived a big one. The whole church in Cape Town has bought presents for us. You need friends that will keep you.
We will see how Titus looked after Paul.

7. Spiritual Discipline – In the last session I said Many church leaders are lazy. I’m sorry. This is what I most wanted to refer to. You have to spend time with the One who sent you. Sometimes when you don’t have the words you just have to sit quietly before the Lord and allow Him to minister to you. You may not know what to pray for. But you keep your disciple. Sometime I sit and pray, sometimes I just sit. It is like that. Sometimes it’s so hard.

8. Building skills – We have to build well. Paul left Titus because he could finish what he had started. Don’t be sloppy with the church. Treat it as though it is the most beautiful thing you have. If you know how, then ask for help.

Many years ago I was in Kenya with Simon Petit. He did a teaching on Apostolic foundations. If you want to build a house you need a plan. And before that you need a good foundation and he went on to explain what the foundation of a NT church looks like. He went through 14. Know what you are building. When you start building you know what the finished product will look like. When you build the church in your heart and mind you should know what it should look like.
I need to end here for now.

IF you know you have been slightly beaten up or damaged by being left to build a church plant and you know you are carrying things in your heart that are very sore. Your life/heart has been damaged by the process, please lift your hand ( eyes closed everyone!). I would love to minister to you and pray Paul’s pray over to you. Grace and peace from God and Father and Christ Jesus. Father please keep us as we go from city to city and village to village. That we will be good at being left – robust and strong. You will never leave us not forsake us. Amen.
(to be continued… Part4)

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