Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Gather 2016 : Island Lessons Part 1| Steve Oliver

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

One of the greatest gifts a leader can be to his community is  give the people the word of what God is saying at that time. It thrills my heart to see what Colin and Franco are doing.

They are picking up the prophetic threads and they are taking it and massaging it into the community. So this word is not just for Igatpuri. So that we will understand the times of God and adjust how you lead your people and in the family. Scripture talks about the sons of Issachar who understood the times in which they were living. They were a part of Paul’s family tree. They understood that the anointing of God had shifted from Saul to David. And they said to David :  “ We are yours to David”.

 What breaks my heart is when I hear that some churches are teaching things that are at another tangent to what God is saying to us as a movement. The elders do decide what to teach and it should not be what is the latest fad. You guide your people through teaching and the Spirit of God. It’s a combination of the two. Be clear minded on what you are teaching on a Sunday morning. How you take a statement like that: “Like never before” and how do you teach it. Even worship leaders what songs are you teaching.

Island Lessons. This is the series we will be doing over these two days.
Paul wrote to Titus. This is one of the pastoral letters. It is written to a young man who has been entrusted with a task. When Titus received this it would have been written on very primitive paper and very relational. It did not have chapters or numbers. It was a spiritual father helping his on succeed. 

This letter was probably written at the end of Paul’s life viz AD 63-65.  He was possibly in Rome as a prisoner. One reason we don’t know much is because any ministry work on the island of Crete is not recorded in Acts so we don’t know the timing. We don’t know when Paul planted churches there. The exciting thing is that there is a lot happening that even Luke did not record.

 Even when we record the Regions Beyond story which is not about a person but a people group you will realise that there are thing happening that are not being recorded. How many more letters could be out there? But God in his wisdom allowed this one to be included. I enjoy the people stories because it tells me that I can also be a part of it.

Titus is on the Island of Crete south of Italy part of the Roman empire which had a strong culture. A culture lived out in depravity – Lifestyle was sensuous. Corruption was a way of life. Living a life of lying was an accepted norm! it was not seen as wrong. They did not expect people to tell the truth

The gospel is able to break into any culture. When God calls you into a village where you will encounter strongholds of beliefs the gospel is powerful and saves and can bring down every thought and pretense that sets itself up against God.

I hope to get through this book. As you know expository preaching is not my style. What I want us to be aware of is that there is a prophetic thrust in doing this scripture because God wants to equip us to what God wants to do.

I will read from the ESV. So some disciples got to Crete and hand over the letter to Titus which is written by Paul.
One thing you will find in this letter there is a lot more instruction, almost authoritarian. Titus do this... and a real sense of urgency. I hope as I spoke to you today you picked up some of the urgency of God. It does not have the same encouragement the kind Timothy gets.

There could be a few reasons and I surmise. I wonder whether Paul know that his time had come to an end. Its in 2 Tim you sense that he is saying his time is near.
So he tells us in v5 why he wrote this letter. To finish what is left unfinished and appoint leaders/elders in very town. So Titus was given a very definite task.
V6 -16 pretty strong words!!.

1: 1     servant of God, apostle of Jesus Christ
V1 I If you read Paul’s letters you will see how amazingly relational he was. He knew everybody’s names what they did. When he introduces himself he lays a very clear foundation which gives him the right to put this letter forward.
Paul a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. We are an apostolic movement so we use this word very often.

I want you to understand that an apostle is a gift not a title. So when he calls you in apostolic ministry pastoral or teaching you don’t get a light above your head. You still have to use your feet you don’t float around. Paul is making it clear that firstly he is a servant. He tells us that Jesus is the first apostle. HE was the first ambassador. It’s like Jesus saying to Gurmeet I am sending you to the north. You are my ambassador in that region. As I served, washing feet, the work of the lowest servant of that time; so go and serve the people.

Paul says I’m coming to serve. It does not matter what you do please guard your heart. Whatever role you play it does not puff you up to think you are somebody. Be careful you want to be recognized and be served. Be careful. Serve.

You cannot separate servant and apostle. So if your leaders say they want to make you an elder go home and write on your wall, I have been called to wash feet. The actual meaning of the word is to be slave of Jesus. Paul thought he was a great guy but what he did not know that he was a salve to sin. And then Jesus comes and breaks the chain and then he became a slave of Christ. Blood bought. Does whatever Jesus wants. A Slave not to his destruction but to life. A slave of Jesus Christ.

Tom Wright has just released a translation of the Bible after years of study. There are some very interesting insights
Eph4:11. Apostle is with a little “a” so it’s not a title. God gives us these gifts so that we will succeed in what we do. Tom Wright says this could read “ to equip the saints,( Wright says to equip the saints to do the work) and for continuing the work of ministry. So it’s to serve and serve and serve. The main thing about the Eph 4 gifts is not just to equip the saints but they must continue that ministry.

Wesley feels that God is saying, this is my office that I am entrusting to you. Christ comes as the first apostle, fulfills his mission, died and was raised from the dead and ascends, gives gifts. So Jesus is taking what he did and giving it to people.

At fusion I preached about the talents. The master gives you 20 years salary and entrusts it to him.

So Paul writes as one who has been given a very important task. a message of truth that he now has to carry over. When you go back to your churches, you have been entrusted with truth. To go and bring fruit. When truth gets into our minds, it changes our hearts and the way we live. We are ambassadress of truth and that’s what Paul says.

V1 For the sake of faith- he is established the right motivation for the message. Paul has the right motivation for doing what he is doing. The question I want to ask is what is the motivation for what you are doing? Why do you do what you do?

We have a terrible problem in Africa. Most leaders lead a church because they get an income. Even in South Africa. Africa is a fear based culture. They preach in a way that people will give their money.

So Paul is establishing his motive. So he is undermining what these Jewish leaders were doing. So be clear why you are doing why you are doing this. It cannot be for status, name or control. But to see those whom Jesus has elected are strengthened in faith.

1:2      Hope of eternal life
V2. The Crete worshiped a God of lies which you can also lie. When we worship a righteous savior you want to deal with the sin in your life. This is a life or death message.

1:3      I have been entrusted     
V3. Entrusted. We touched on this earlier. Jesus has taken what he died for and taken it and put it in your hand. Melanie he has taken his love for children and given a portion of it to you to look after these children. It’s a joy to see what you are doing.
Those of you who have come from Punjab, 30 hours on the train, realize that you have Jesus bags with you, things what he has entrusted you to do. That is what Paul is saying.

V3. By the command of God the savior – It’s like when you open the mail and a letter comes. In the army you get your command from the general. You get instructions to go here and there. You realize this has authority and there is a warning that if you disobey you will court martialed. This is what is like
If we take seriously what God is saying the focus goes away form where and to whom to who has sent us.

Franco said we want to hear your heart. I find that average pastor is not working hard enough. Because what we have been entrusted. Too often I hear my work is not going well because I don’t have this or that. We need to be fully committed to this task.

I’ve heard people quote 2 Cor. 2: 12 . When I came to Troas ( Troy), even though a door was opened by the Lord I could not find Titus and so I left. You think why? Because he did not want to minister alone? He has ministered alone and was capable. He had written his first letter to Corinth. Titus took the letter which was a tough letter: Sexual immorality, law suits, fighting etc. He takes them to task as a church. Paul cannot minister in Troas because he is carrying Corinth in his heart so when he gets there he wants to hear how Corinth received his instruction. But Titus is not there. So he goes to Macedonia.

I don’t want to put a heavy work load on you. But we have a life and death message. That’s what has been put into our hands/ You are not playing church. You have been entrusted for your city. That’s why people died. That’s what we have been entrusted.

After lunch we will come to the verse “the reason I left you” Paul was under orders. When we are under orders we respond differently. It causes you to soak in the Word of God, pray. You move when you are asked to. Are we under orders?

I love history when I get a chance to read. Abraham Lincoln was a godly man. He had a few pathetic generals in his army. Men who would not get on with the fight. Finally, an unusual man arose. A scruffy man. All the others were considered with their appearance. This man Ulysses Grant is up for a fight. He has belief, commitment and purpose. One day he gets a letter form the President. Orders to get onto to Charleston. He writes back a beautiful response. He signs off “yours to count on”

So I ask you this afternoon. With what Jesus has put in your hand can he count on you? Can your brothers and sisters sitting next to you count on you? As we spread out, as you pick up your task, are you using what God has put into your hand?

The general before Ulysses got a different letter. He had a finest uniform and the most equipped army and had everything he needed for success.  Gen. Mclellan has the most portraits taken of himself. But the one thing is he would not fight. One day the rider bring a letter form the President saying “You are fired! Your command has been taken away from you” The parable of the talents. It was taken away from him and given to a more faithful person.
God will call us to some difficult places.
( to be Continued… Part 2)

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