Repositioned for Growth
Well we reach this morning the third of the revelations that God led me to in the weeks & months at the turn of the year. It would be foolish to launch into this third presentation without reviewing the first two. They simply do not stand alone.
Living Word Community Church stands at a crossroads as God has commanded us to just as the prophecy in Jeremiah 6 says that Christine brought to us some months ago and again more recently.
16 This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6
We stand and we are blessed by the clear voice of the Lord calling us and leading us. It takes courage and conviction for a man to stand and say God is speaking to us and saying this....
But I don’t feel very brave and my convictions such as they are rest on a belief in the truth of this book and our dependence upon it accompanied by an amazement at the way in which the word has come confirmed out of the mouths of more than one witness.
There have been two other factors that have given me cause to believe that we are hearing God in this revelation.
1. The doors of circumstance that have for some years seemed closed seem to be opening to confirm a way.
2. As we have stepped boldly into this we have known more focused enemy activity than I have known for years. It’s when it becomes so overt that you have to wonder. We must be doing something right.
You may want to talk to me about this conviction more personally and that is fine. But let me say, that I will probably point you back to ask God for yourselves. Ultimately you too need to find a personal sense of the rightness of all we are doing. As Barry said last week – Together we have the mind of Christ.
2. Review of first two revelations.
Enough of this let me remind you of the key points from the last two sessions (I will leave it to you to make some very powerful connections with the word that Barry brought last week on Being Community and Reaching Community.
We began by looking @ the passage in Psalm 133 which speaks of the commanded blessing of God a powerful dynamic force of blessing that comes to us when?
Dwell together in unity- harnessed together in step for purpose. In agreement together
This disposition of God’s people is intended to be the norm. We can recognise aspects of this shared purpose and a sense of family. I want us to acknowledge though that we haven’t got it right yet. As I was reflecting the other day, I felt God saying that in reality it is not an unwillingness to serve or bless others and demonstrate love that is weak, but rather the other side of that equation- God would challenge you with the question- How prepared are you to receive the servant hearted love of God as demonstrated through His people.
First then If we are to see the commanded blessing of God in us then we are being called first to both serve one another and accept that servanthood sacrificially.
Our second session together looked at our positioning to reach the world what I called our exposition. We looked together at an amazing passage in Isaiah 58 and saw the true lifestyle we are called to. Fasting as lifestyle not just in Lent. A fast that expresses itself again sacrificially towards our broken society. Demonstrating modelling what a kingdom community can be and being the ‘repairers of the breach, restorers of streets with dwellings.’
Second then If we are to be a kingdom community in which our light will shine like the dawn we are being called to feed the hungry and house the homeless and clothe the naked.
So there is the quality of who we are together and how we express that to the world.
This should give us a clear sense of our identity as god’s people. Identity is important we need to know who we are. But as I believe God wants to show us today we don’t only need to know who we are but also where we are going.- Where and how it is we focus that identity.
3. Gerar to Beersheba
So lets turn to a passage that I believe will help us. It’s the story of a journey
Genesis Chapter 26 verses 12-26
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, "Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us."
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20
But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen and said, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, [a]
because they disputed with him. 21
Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. [b] 22
He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, [c]
saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham."
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
Ok so lets be very careful here. The revelation I have had here has two applications one vastly more significant than the other, But both we will visit today.
But let’s not make assumptions let’s begin by putting this word in its context and keep the story a simple one.
Abraham’s son Isaac had moved away because of a famine to live at God’s command in a place called Gerar
The King here seemed happy for a time to accommodate Isaac amongst the philistine people of that area. But he prospered and outgrew the place and was being challenged to move on.
During the time there the philistines grew fed up of Isaac, who’s herds had grown & grown, and they saw an opportunity & started to block up Isaac’s wells these were actually wells his father (Abraham) had dug.
So Isaac moved just down the valley and unblocked the wells enabling him once more to feed his flocks, but he was forced on by the locals two more times till he gets to a place where he stays for a while – A place called Reheboth. In each of these places he dug wells to feed his flocks.
There was one more move he made He was drawn to a place (Beersheba) where finally he stopped and God spoke and made His promise that it was in this place he would prosper. Beersheba means the well of the promise.
I want us just to note here the four things that Isaac did having received the promise
1. He built an altar – He chose to make a place of sacrifice a place of submission.
2. He called upon God- An act of worship and praise to God honouring Him.
3. He pitched his tent- He was making a commitment that here he would stay
4. He dug a well- He ensured his connection to the wellspring
Isaac learned dependence on God trust that He would provide for him. But the lessons for us go beyond the simple need to water goats.
Isaac had a journey to make. It was a journey across the ancient middle east, but it was also a spiritual journey a journey of faith – requiring complete dependence on God.
4. Our Journey
That is where we have found ourselves as a Church.
It is not enough to have found favour amongst the people no it is not enough. In doing so there is a danger that like Isaac in the verses just before these we start hiding who we really are merging into a Christian subculture that ceases to own its distinctiveness.
We were and are called to be an anointed people. Our ministry into our world is a prophetic one following the leading of the Holy Spirit Following Jesus.
We know that distinctiveness we have looked at it in Psalm 133: A people dwelling in unity, a people of the commanded blessing the people shining like the dawn as Isaiah 58 showed us because we are those that repair the breach restore the streets with dwellings. You have heard of a birthright well this is our rebirthright. It is the cup of restoration handed down to us by our fathers in the faith- men like Luther, Wesley, Arthur Wallis & Bryn Jones. They called us to tap in again to the wellspring of grace and truth, that is needed as much today as it has always been
Just like Isaac needed to get to the water in the wells to survive, we also need to continually drink from the spring of the spirit that is inside us.
I look around me and I know that what has happened to some of us is that we have allowed the wells in our spiritual lives to become blocked up little by little a spoonful of doubt then a boulder of frustration then shovels full of unbelief, discouragement, cynicism. a pinch of disobedience and there you have it, where we were once all a people expecting the God of miracle we allow discouragement block our access to the spring of God’s Spirit inside of us.
Like Isaac we may need first to dig again at the wells of our father in order to tap into that source of blessing- What does that mean. We may need to go back in our spiritual journey to the point where we lost our way, in order to rediscover the refreshing truths of spiritual gifting in us. The amazing thing about the well spring in us is that it never gets stagnant Jesus said in John 4
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
If you only leave today with one phrase my prayer is that it would be ‘unblock the wells’ tap into that spring.
We all of us need to move on spiritually to the point where we begin to dig wells for ourselves as God shows us- to explore our own place in his purposes not losing the truths I have just spoken of but finding our own place in them. Isaac knew he could not stay drawing always from his fathers wells. There was a place of promise for him.
We are on a journey just like Isaac’s from Gerar to Beersheba. As we make that choice to unblock the wells I believe God will speak to each one of us from that spring of refreshment.
For us to move on together, to see the breakthrough we all long for does require us to acknowledge these truths I have been sharing with you over these three sessions.
To see God’s blessing we truly need to rediscover what dwelling together in unity means as we saw in Psalm 133
To see breakthrough in evangelism we need to stand up for what is true and to do so with compassion and humility. As we saw in Isaiah 58
To truly see growth in our lives as individuals and as a community we need to dig again at the wellspring of life in each one of us as we see in Genesis 26
5. The journey of the Church
What I have shared so far would seem to be enough, but the Lord has clearly shown us as an eldership that these spiritual truths have a clear application for us not just as individuals but also for our future together. I am not content and neither are you to continue without this Church LIVING out its purpose for this whole area.
In the green paper ‘repositioning for growth’ we have described the practical reasoning behind our decisions to make the changes we are making – in moving the Church in eldership delegation, investment in leadership and of course small groups. What I hope is that you will see in these revelations I have brought is a spiritual foundation to them, a passion to hear God has resulted in a clear sense of His direction to us.
So just as Isaac outgrows the community in Gerar so we have outgrown this place, and will in a number of steps like Isaac move until we find the place God is calling us too. Of course like Isaac what we are looking for at first is a place for growth where we have room. But ultimately just like Isaac we seek that place of promise for us that we can make our own.
6. Build an altar, call on God, pitch your tent and most of all dig your well.
We are going to wait on God now and as we do I want you to see each of these actions of Isaac as actions for you right now.
1. An altar – submit to God and lay everything at the altar of the cross
2. Call on His name we do not mind how loud or softly you call but call on Him
3. Pitch your tent- Commit to this journey OR don’t commit.
4. Dig your well – recognise all that has blocked the well in your life and throw it out drink from the well you know is there.