It is a delight to welcome you to Harrow International Christian Centre this morning. We trust that you will feel the warmth and acceptance by the fellowship and that you will experience the love of God in your life by being in the service today. Primarily we are here to worship the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Saviour and Lord. We sing hymns and spiritual songs that we hope will lift up your heart towards God in worship for who he is.
The partners and attendees of this multinational Church have, at some point on their journey through life, encountered Jesus. This happened to many people while Jesus was here upon the earth. I think of the woman whose story is recorded in John chapter 4. She met Jesus while he was sitting by a well. This was the normal routine of life for her, and yet just a few moments in the presence of Jesus changed her whole life including her eternal destiny.
What about Zacchaeus whose story is found in Luke 19? He was disliked because he was a tax collector who cheated the people for his own personal gain. Being a small man he had to climb up a tree in the hope of seeing Jesus as the crowd jostled and pushed to be near Jesus. Jesus stopped and looked up into the branches and asked him to come down because he wanted to come to his home and share a meal with him. Life was totally transformed to the degree that Zacchaeus repaid back everything he had ever stolen many times over.
Both of these people I mention were outcasts of society. People despised them and excluded them from community life, but Jesus took the time to speak with them personally and entered their hearts to bring healing and restoration. He stopped at the very place where they were. He spoke deeply into their circumstances with great knowledge and insight into their private world and needs. He removed the embarrassment and shame of the past and the present and gave them hope for the future. When Jesus called Zacchaeus he came down from the tree gladly. He knew he needed Jesus so he positioned himself so he could see above the crowd. Rejection and exclusion was the crowd in his heart and mind. He raised himself up above all that could stop him from seeing Jesus. Jesus stopped right beneath his tree and called him down. Come down from your place of hiding in the leaves and allow me to come right into your home.
There is an interesting connection to when Adam and Eve first became conscious of their own sin and nakedness before God, because they also hid in the trees and made coverings from the leaves. Adam and Eve could not keep any sin hidden from Jesus and neither could the woman at the well. Jesus knew that she ‘had already had five husbands and that the man she currently lived with was not her husband’.
I believe the response of Zacchaeus reveals a depth of abandonment of himself to the Saviour. This is what it takes to see real transformation in our lives. A willingness to give our all and invite him into the centre of our heart to eat with us. Once again I quote Revelation 3 v 20: Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Welcome in Jesus name to Harrow International Christian Centre. We are so privileged to have you with us. Our prayer is that you will be at home among the family of God here. You are in a safe place where you can express your love to God in worship.
In these days we are being challenged by the Holy Spirit to open up our lives before God in transparency and allow His grace and mercy to work in the deep recesses of our heart. This is a day to engage with Jesus and allow Him to cleanse and renew us by the Holy Spirit.
I am reminded of Revelation 3 v 20 where we read ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in and eat with him, and he with me’. How many times we have heard this verse quoted in an appeal for people to receive Christ for salvation and of course it can correctly be used for this purpose. The challenge is to allow Christ in by opening the door of our lives, however, this verse is spoken to the Church in Laodicea who believed they were spiritually rich when in actual fact they were in a place of spiritual poverty. They were spiritually lukewarm which is why Christ is presented as being outside the door asking to gain entrance to revive and bring spiritual fire.
Laodicea was established two hundred and fifty years before Christ came with the population being made up Syrians and Jews who were transplanted by the Babylonians. The city grew to become the capital of West Phrygia and a centre of banking. Much wealth was accumulated because the land in the area was rich and fertile producing crops and healthy food for animals, particularly sheep whose wool was woven into coats and carpets. It was also famous for a product called ‘Phrygian powder’ which was said to have healing properties for those who suffered from disease of the eyes. Jesus is standing outside of the Church because they are taken up with the riches and wealth of the world rather than the spiritual wealth of being on fire with His Spirit. Jesus speaks and calls for them to recognise their spiritual condition. They thought they had no needs. They had acquired everything, yet in reality they were pitiful, poor, naked and blind. Jesus says, ‘Come buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
The deep love God has for us means he disciplines us and calls us to be earnest and repent, because to him who overcomes he will give the right to sit with him on His throne just as Jesus overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.’
When I was young boy I loved to walk into the upper room in my Nana’s home. It was designated; ‘the prayer room’ and was full of the tangible presence of God. Hanging on the wall was the famous picture of Jesus holding a lantern in his hand as he stood and knocked at a door that represented the Church or a person’s life. There is no handle on the outside of the door. The door can only be opened from the inside. Let us open the door to Christ as individuals and as a fellowship recognising our spiritual need as we respond to the sound of His voice. Let us hear what the Spirit says to us as his Church.
Welcome to our vision day which was planned to give the family at HICC the opportunity of moving forward together as one body. I feel it appropriate to remind you of the major points from my message last Sunday and to develop it further. I hope you will be inspired to run with us as we seek the purpose of God.
PURPOSE BEGINS WITH VISION. VISION FROM GOD COMES FROM THE FORESIGHT AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF WHAT GOD WANTS TO DO. Vision has to begin with what we can see by faith. We want our vision revealed and shaped by the Lord.
I asked three questions:
- What can you see for yourself?
- What can you see in yourself?
- What can you see for the fellowship?
The results of these questions are so closely linked because they overlap. We are partners in the work. A personal vision is generally fulfilled within the Church because vision from God is bigger than our own lives. God seems to work this way. He moulds our lives as one body because we can only achieve God’s will together.
We were reminded of the time Jeremiah went down to the potter’s house and saw a jar of clay being reshaped into a pot without blemish. It is an image of God working in our lives and also the Church. I know the context is primarily for Israel but the principal of God working within the clay of our mere humanity to produce his perfect Son in us applies to us all. Sometimes we cannot see the gold of God within because we cannot see past the clay of our imperfections. Until we see Jesus there will always be reasons why we feel we cannot fulfil God’s purpose but, amazing grace takes us up and uses us together for His glory. What a humbling thought!
VISION IS THE DOORWAY TO YOUR FUTURE, BUT GOD’S STRATEGY WILL UNLOCK IT. You will recall that I used Cornelius and Peter as examples. They were two men brought together by God. The power of the Spirit invaded the ordinary spiritual routine of life with the supernatural. Cornelius was already doing what he knew was right in the sight of the Lord, which enabled God to give him specific direction and his obedience was to start a chain of events that would reshape the New Testament Church. It broke the religious restrictions of the past and opened up the opportunity for many souls, Jew and Gentile, to be saved. Peter was already active in service and praying openly on the roof. He was busy and open to God. The Lord spoke to him in a dream which would connect these two men and change the shape of the early Church.
Drawing from Old Testament days I spoke of when the twelve spies went in to spy out the land and all saw it was good just as the Lord had said. Ten returned with a negative report. Only Joshua and Caleb believed they should go up and take possession of what God said was already their own. Forty-five years later Caleb reminded Joshua of the promise and claimed the hill country. He claimed the high ground which would be possessed by driving out the enemy with the help of the Lord.
- What can you see? – clay or gold?
- Can we believe for God-given strategy?
- Can we decide to do what God has called us to do?
I believe together we can, with the help of the Lord.
I have to admit I just love the summer. Waking with the brightness of the early morning sun streaming into the bedroom is just so wonderful. The sense that the day is going to be bright and warm causes one to think about all the potential of the day ahead. Breakfast can be in the garden rather than the kitchen or dining room, although I guess for some they may prefer it in bed. The sun makes you hit the ground running, full of zeal for what can be accomplished.
Spiritually we have the ‘Son’ in our hearts every day. It is Jesus who causes us to arise every morning with a sense of purpose and potential. We leap into the day rejoicing along the pathway that leads to all the potential a new day with ‘the Son’ can bring. Proverbs 4 v 18 says: ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’.
Isaiah 60 v 1: ‘Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’. Each day we are presented with the possibility of displaying the glory of God. He is the light that has shone into our hearts. His message, his Spirit, his power and His glory has caused the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to be shed abroad in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 4 v 6: For God, who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’. The more time we spend looking at the face of our Lord the brighter the light will shine through us. It is his light we are displaying and not our own. This creates more than a positive outlook for the day because it causes us to arise in supernatural strength and expectancy as we live out his purpose.
SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER
Our young people won’t remember the hit song entitled; ‘School’s out for summer’. Some of the older folks in HICC will remember the track, I have to say; it’s probably even a bit before my time. It was written in a time when caution might be thrown to the wind and rebellion was strong. ‘If it feels good do it’ was probably the best slogan that describes the era of the song. When we take our break and head into the holiday time we hold fast to our Saviour. We press into His fullness and make every moment count for Him. Enjoy the summer but fill it with everything that pleases God.
Let’s make the summer count for Christ. Bring someone along to our summer meetings. Keep sharing your faith as the ‘Son’ shines through and God will give you the joy of seeing people saved and set free. Have a great summer. Let’s pray we actually get some sun.
Our nation needs a spiritual awakening. We need a Holy Spirit revival that will turn our nation back to the true and living God.
The true story is told of a great revivalist who was on route to conduct meetings in an American town. Travelling by horse-back meant the journey was arduous and the man of God grew weary. He began to ask God to prepare the community for his time of ministry among the people. He was three days away and as each hour passed he fervently sought God that he might move by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was intending to preach in a field in the open air just outside the town. There had been no preparation and no advertising instead, he cried unto God and asked the Holy Spirit to take control.
On the day planned for the event, a few praying people who were expecting him went to pray in the field. God began to speak to people in the town and draw them towards the field for no apparent reason. They flocked towards the place where the man of God would deliver his message as the Holy Spirit began to convict men and woman, young people and children. People cried out for forgiveness and, as the holiness of God’s presence was manifest, a deep spiritual awakening began within that town. Many were slain under the anointing of the Spirit as God worked a miracle in their hearts and lives. Public confession of sin and acknowledgement of the need for mercy and cleansing was heard as the man of God approached the field. To his amazement he realised the Lord had already done the work by the power of His Spirit. He simply preached the good news and the revival continued for many days. A whole community came to Christ as a direct result of the prayers of this man and those who prepared for his arrival.
Just a moment of God’s manifest power would be enough. I am not referring to a feeling, or an emotional moment, although it usually affects every dimension of our being, I am referring to a moment of deep conviction of sin and need which causes us to fall before God and cry out for mercy. His presence and glory should bring us to our knees in worship. It should bring us to faith and belief in Christ. It should bring us to a place of acknowledgement of His work on the Cross as we confess our sin. It should bring us to confess Jesus as Lord and that He is risen from the dead.
We need to continue to pray for a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. This is what will save our nation. No political answer can turn the tide and heal the land. Only a move of God will bring this about. It can happen in a moment. KEEP PRAYING.
We are living in significant days for our nation with decisions being made that will affect us all as we serve the Lord here in the UK. We are seeing many different responses from people ranging from joy and celebration through to disappointment and fear. The major question for us is: How should Christians respond to all that is happening at this time? Let me share the following with you.
As a young pastor I served under a senior man who was gripped by the question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ He asked all his ministry team to begin to ask ourselves the question as we went about our daily tasks, after all, we are called to reflect Christ in the world not only in word but also action.
The Bible says that the distinction between the godly and the ungodly will become more apparent again as we see the day of the Lord approaching. Mathew 25 v 31 – 46 records the parable of the king separating the sheep and goats, which will take place when the Son of Man (Jesus) comes in His glory. Those who are welcomed into the Kingdom and who receive inheritance are those who have served the Lord. We know we are not saved by good works, but here the test of true service which brings eternal reward is ‘how we have ministered to those in need’.
The King of glory says; ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me’. The righteous are surprised because they cannot recall having done this directly for the King himself. The King replies; ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’.
In Romans 12 v 18 – 21 we are challenged. ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’. It goes on to say; ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head’, (referring to God as judge).
It closes with the following statement: ‘do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’.
In this time of uncertainty and vulnerability let us also ask; ‘what would Jesus do’? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
We welcome you today as we celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and hope that you will feel at home in the family of HICC. As you walk through this special occasion with us you will soon discover that HICC is a unique fellowship made up of ordinary people from over forty different nations.
We are a group of people who encounter the love of God through Jesus as we journey through life. Our relationship with Jesus influences every dimension of life. In our marriages, our homes, our work and life in general, Jesus is Lord in everything. He is the one who makes life work the way that God has designed and, like our Queen, we exist to serve the same King she serves. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are proud to have the opportunity of introducing you to Jesus today and our prayer is that you too will discover the most important relationship there can ever be is possible for you. If the Queen needs Jesus to be her King and has pledged her life to His service, then you and I can make the same pledge and make a real difference in our generation.
During the service, you will hear songs that praise the Lord as we worship. There will be a sense of joy and celebration because knowing Jesus makes us the happiest and most satisfied people in the world. You will hear people tell their own story about how they came to personal faith in Jesus and the difference he has made in their lives. A short message will be delivered from the Bible and an opportunity to bring a personal response to Jesus will be given as we pray together. No pressure or persuasion will be applied. Your decisions must be real and from your heart, however, you will be encouraged to take a step of faith because without the exercise of faith we cannot respond to God.
A wonderful team of HICC partners has prepared for your visit. We have been praying for you. Someone will have invited you or even brought you to this special place. It may well be a different type of experience from what you expected ‘Church’ to be, but be assured that everything in the service is in line with the Bible. We hope you will relax, be at peace and be open to what God wants to do in your life.
Finally, we hope that this will be the first of many times you come to HICC and as you see the genuine love of God in the family you will sense the warmth and acceptance from each of us. Thanks for coming. Enjoy the celebration and the food.
May God bless you today.
Pastor Paul & Miriam