A Glorious Church
A Glorious Church
Online Service – 17th May 2020.
Good morning Seacoast Church, and good morning to everyone who is joining in with us today.
Thankyou Steve for leading us in communion this moring.
As a pastor, with a strong, in built passion and calling to be a shepherd, this season of separation has been extremely challenging.
As much as I like my own space – I’ve realised how much I actually thrive on being with others. I guess that’s a good thing for what I do.
Shepherding isn’t about controlling others. It isn’t even about telling people what they should do.
For me it’s more about gathering together those whom God has called into this sheepfold which is part of Christ’s body – Seacoast Church.
Afterall, the Seacoast according to Zephaniah, is a shelter for shepherds, which many of you are, and a fold for flocks.
Shepherding is about providing a place of safety, a place of protection from false teaching, a place of belonging, a place of celebration and worship…
– a place where Jesus is the central Person in everything.
It’s all done in the very broad context of “the church” – because that’s who we are together – the church.
I’ve listened to a lot of prophetic words recently, saying that there is going to be a very new kind of normal for the church once all this is over.
And yet, I haven’t been able to grasp onto anything too specific or concrete in these words about what that really means.
I think a lot of people, including myself, want to see and experience something fresh and new as we gather back together – but we don’t really know what that looks like in practice. Whatever it is – if God’s in it – then I’m all in.
I’m glad God knows what’s ahead. And whatever normal is going to look like – He is the One Who will bring it to pass – not man – not wishful thinking – and certainly not in a works based, religious striving to bring change for the sake of change.
I’m not sure if the church was ever meant to be put in the category of “normal” anyway. There was nothing normal about Jesus life.
And I say that in the sense that He was a revolutionary. And the church that His disciples established was revolutionary in its time.
I have a strong sense that the church in this season is being positioned to seriously enter into a period of restoration and an enlarging and embracing of what it means to be the end times Bride of Christ. Now that’s revolutionary!
I’m not saying that to tickle anyone’s ears. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s the reality of where we are headed. But we will be doing it together!
And as much as I have seen and heard of some wonderful fruit from our team producing a great online church opportunity – with new people joining in all over the place…
- the internet will never replace the physical gathering of those who are passionate about worshiping as one voice
- praying together with unified faith and agreement
- loving and caring for one another relationally
- but in an atmosphere of “the body” being connected – not isolated.
I believe that for every one of us – there is a positioning of ourselves personally as well to happen is these coming months – and I sense that regardless of your age
even how you might be feeling coming through this isolation….
every one of us has a mountain to claim – a desire – a dream – an unfulfilled vision – that will somehow be part of the church as a whole reaching into our future together.
I have to share what I believe the Holy Spirit has placed on my heart – and He seems to be calling forth His church with renewed and refreshed vision and strength for the future.
Strength is a big part of it. And we are always stronger together.
Coming out of this current season – we will have had our pause…. We will have had our reset button pushed…. We will have had our time of reevaluating and refocussing on life, on family, on work, on church… on everything really.
This period we have been through has definitely been a test. I’m not saying God caused it – I’m saying He is looking to see how we are responding to it and how we will come out of it….
Because if we can’t come through this season stronger and even more focussed together, then we will never be able to take the mountains that are before us that are coming in the last days.
Having said that – I have been absolutely encouraged and filled with faith for the future, because Seacoast Church is still full of life and is bound together with a love and steadfastness that is as solid as a rock.
You might have worked it out already as I’ve been speaking about mountains today, that I have Caleb and his mountain on my heart!
I had this picture of this 85 year old man of God standing before the promised land – and his eyes were on one thing – the mountain that was promised to him 45 years earlier. He was about to inherit it.
He says to Joshua:
“6 …….“You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.”
I love that about Caleb. He was a heart man. He was passionate about what he believed – but also about what he felt deep down.
And regardless of what Caleb saw with his natural eyes – it was what he carried in his heart that that ruled his life.
I want to stir up within you again the things that are deep within your heart – especially as we look ahead…. And I want you to lift your eyes above the natural….
Don’t ignore what’s going on around you…. Don’t deny it…. But let your heart be filled with the things God is placing there.
Verse 8 – “8 Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the [a]heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God.
9 So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’
Wow! I am completely in awe of this man – a man who wholly followed the Lord. But he wasn’t just doing it for himself. He was doing it for his children, and his children’s children…
All that he had been through had a much bigger purpose than claiming his own mountain. It was a generational moment. He was putting a stake in the ground for the generations!
Verse 10 “And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel [b]wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.
11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.
12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day…”
Caleb had a promise. He had a mountain that was given to him by God. And now was his time to claim it.
Every one of us are here for such a time as this. We don’t live in the days of Moses and Caleb. We don’t live in the days of the first disciples and the first church. We live in 2020.
So what is this season of your life all about – and what is God doing and preparing for the generations right now?
Are you making room for your family – your children and grandchildren – are you raising up the next faith filled generation?
You might be in your 60s, 70s, 80s…. And perhaps your physical strength mightn’t be what it once was. You might have already claimed a number of mountains in your life already.
But do you know what I think God is really saying to us in all this?
I think it’s all about the strength of our heart! In other words, it’s about our passion for living. Living for God and living for others – living for the generations.
It’s about being passionate about our faith and what we can bring every day for God as an offering to Him.
Rom 12:1 speaks about presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice – which is our reasonable service.
Wherever we are at or whatever we are doing, there’s part of us that desperately wants to glorify God through our lives.
It’s about having a huge heart for God – but as we look back through Caleb’s life – we see that in:
Numbers 14:24 New King James Version (NKJV). It says:
“24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.”
It’s about having a different spirit! A different spirit to the spirit of the world. A different spirit to the spirit of this age.
A different spirit to hopelessness, discouragement, fear, uncertainty, confusion… that many others are walking in right now.
We have a hope and a future.
For all you mums and dads with children in your care still… you are bringing not only yourselves, but your children and their children into an inheritance that is eternal. What a privilege!
Let’s be just as Caleb was.
He had a vision from 45 years ago – and he never let it go. Keep your vision always before you. Don’t give up! Don’t give up on your children’s inheritance.
Keep looking through the eyes of faith. Don’t let fear rob you. Build yourself up in the word. Faith comes by hearing – and hearing by the word of God.
Be a person of perseverance. I can only imagine what must have continually gone through Caleb’s mind as he had to wander through the wilderness with the Israelites – simply because others didn’t see the promised land with eyes of faith as he had.
And yet he persevered – he pushed through – he didn’t give up on God, knowing that ultimately God had all things in hand.
Caleb also had a vision for the lofty heights of the mountain.
Let’s not settle for the low places when God has given us a vision and a longing for the high places.
And probably the most important thing of all – Caleb had given his whole life to God – he was fully and wholeheartedly a follower and a servant of God.
His life wasn’t his own. It was given to God.
Caleb followed God fully. In other versions it says he remained loyal – he followed passionately – he obeyed fully…
Caleb pursued God with everything he had within him.
If we pursue Him, He will definitely pursue us and our future.
Let’s dream of what the Bride of Christ will become. What she will look like.
Because there is a glory that is yet to be revealed through the church.
Haggai 2:9 New King James Version (NKJV)
9 ‘The glory of this latter [a]temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Ephesians 3:21 New King James Version (NKJV)
21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 3:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as [a]by the Spirit of the Lord.
There are countless scriptures that are calling the church forth into a new realm of glory, power and strength.
Let’s position ourselves right now to arise as a beacon to a world that desperately needs His healing, restoring, redeeming love.
Let’s not believe for a new normal.
Let’s believe for a splendour beyond our imagining.
And let’s pray right now for God to have His way in his church in these coming months.
Dear Heavenly Father,
It’s your glory that we so desperately long to see manifest in the church – and in the world.
And Lord, let it be manifest in the midst of a people that are strong and vibrant and holy. – ad totally surrendered to Your will….
Let Seacoast Church and your church everywhere, be a place and a people where multitudes gather together to celebrate, to pray and worship as one voice.
And Father, if there is anyone watching this video – and they haven’t yet opened their heart to Jesus Your Son – then let this be that life changing moment.
Jesus Christ died for each one of us. He paid the price for our sin. He redeemed our lives and gathered us back into relationship with our Father in heaven.
And Lord we are so grateful. We thank you for Your forgiveness. We receive Your salvation and the gift of eternal life.
We thank you for your cleansing and healing.
We ask Holy Spirit that You would come in power and love and inhabit the life of every person right now who has opened their heart to You.
We ask these things in the precious name of Jesus.