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Warming God's Heart

Before I begin, I have a few notices that got missed:

(Insert quote from Adrian Plass "Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker Aged 45 3/4" p77-79)

I want to talk about reality and make believe.

- quote from Adrian Plass funny - why?

- It parodies what see in church all the time

- Just enough truth to hit home and point out our true opinion of church and ourselves.

- We understand the silliness that is a regular part of our lives as christians and in the church

- If we look at some of the practices of our church with a jaundiced eye what do we see

  • Every Sunday someone goes around and places a card and a pencil on each seat. When I was at school a very popular practical joke was to place lumpy or sharp items on seats in the hope of catching someone unaware.
  • Our communion is full of dilemmas for someone like me. First there is a huge question of whether to sit and wait or to go out the front. If I sit and wait am I allowing my brothers and sisters the opportunity to express God's love and Grace to me in service or if I go to the front am I making a statement of spiritual commitment to God. And that is only the first dilemma. Each Sunday we invite people to partake how and where they want. The question is where? I could end up receiving direction to partake in Jenny's office, the toilets or the kitchen. Ultimately what I want to do is to get up and go somewhere, anywhere because it is getting very uncomfortable sitting on this card and pencil.

- And why do we do these silly things? Each one of them was begun for very good reasons.

- The problem we have is that we take that jaundiced eye and use it to judge ourselves as christians, to judge our church and all we see is a bunch of people doing very strange things, things that are pointless, things that are counter productive, things that will never achieve anything.

One of the things we lose sight of is our great heritage:

- This church was planted by a group of youngish people who felt called to place a church in a new suburb of the time Belconnen

- The original idea was a joint work with a number of denominations jointly financing ministry.

- Later we see the church of Christ members worshiping with St James in Holt Primary school before the building of this church.

- It is a heritage of vision, hard work, mission and outreach.

- This is our heritage and who we are.

- Going back further we could talk about the founding of Churches of Christ in the ACT with the beginning of monthly meetings in 1925.

- Or we could trace the history back further - noting the strong ecumenical focus, the strong mission focus and the strong spiritual focus.

- Ultimately we could trace our heritage back to Barton Stone and the Cane Ridge revival in the second great awakening where people sought God, found him and began this movement.

- Another strand of heritage in NationsHeart today is that of the charismatic renewal beginning in 1967. The time when the mainline churches discovered the Holy Spirit again. The emphasis on God being active in our midst, the emphasis on mission come at least partly from this heritage.

- The charismatic renewal had its roots in Pentecostalism. A group of christians who were prepared to be shunned by the rest of Christianity because they wouldn't compromise what God had said to them.

- Pentecostalism began in the search by a group of people for greater depth in their relationships with God. They sought God, prayed and experienced new life that they came to call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

- They themselves were part of another movement called the Holiness movement. A group of christians who sought a deeper life in God, a life of greater holiness, greater Intimacy with God.

- I look at this heritage and see heaps of good things. I look at our church and see those same good things - a very volatile mix. This is our heritage and this is who we are.

When we look at our church do we see this heritage as who we are or do we see the silly things, the wrong things?

If there is one thing I struggle with it is that I can so easily identify the silly and the wrong and so often I miss the reality.

I want to try to look through God's eyes and see his reality.

Peter makes this statement of who we are:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
For you once were not a people , but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

He is making a statement of our heritage and what God believes we are individually and as the church.

We are a chosen race.

1. We have as our heritage God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
2. -We have as our heritage the exodus:
3. For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed. (Josh 24:17)

We are the royal priesthood. We are the ones to mediate God's love and grace to the world. We are the ones with free access to approach the creator. We are the ones responsible to introduce God to the world.

We are the people for God's own possession. Have you ever known the feeling that there was something you just had to have. If there was something that was more important than anything else and you would do anything to have that thing.

After a lot of time and effort, after going through stages when you never thought you would get there and actually own it. Finally you have the money and you buy it. You have this huge warm feeling, this huge sense that you have got there, it has finally happened and you own it.

This is what God feels about us. This is the feeling that God has when he things about us. We are his own possession, the thing that he has spent and strived for beyond all reason. The thing that makes his heart warm.

This is what I wanted to say to you today. The reality, God's reality. In the midst of the silliness, the stuff that is wrong.

This church, This people, the person on the left, the person on the right. These are the things that God thinks about that make his heart warm.

On the Transfiguration of Jesus

A Note on the Rabbi Story: Since using the story I have found it retold a number of different places including two books, a magazine and several web sites. I have to conclude that the story itself is public domain. This version came from: Catholic Vocations

Text: Mk 9:1 - 8

Ok this is the situation, you've been living with this strange guy for a while and he goes up this mountain and all of a sudden things happen.

The only reason you've been living with him is that every now and then he says or does something that just blows your mind. You always thought there should be something more to this being a jew. This guy seems to know that something but he keeps getting caught up on side issues.

So climbing this mountain, and the guy changes. I mean really changes, from homespun to shining white just like that. Elijah appears - yeah Elijah, last seen heading in an upward direction on a fiery chariot. And he wasn't alone, Moses was there too. That's right the Moses who talked to God face to face, the Moses who wrote the Law and began it all.

Well how would you feel? This was serious stuff. All of a sudden the thing I was wanting all along was happening. Scared just doesn't cover it. A real mix of scared, excitement and unreality.

My mouth took over and it was a while before my brain caught up. I knew how stupid it was as soon as I said it. "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for you, and one for Moses and one for Elijah"

Tabernacles, tents made out of branches yet. I don't know whether it was some hark back to the whole journey in the wilderness thing or just that I wanted to stay there. As I said it was my mouth and it was on its own.

I barely heard the words, but somehow their meaning seared its way into me: "This is My beloved son listen to him".

It was over almost before it began. I knew that something had happened, but I didn't know what

1) Confronted by God

What is our response to being confronted with God? Are we ever confronted by God?

My mate Stuart and the classics of the Christian Faith.

Limited interaction with God

Christians who avoid God or control interaction with God

God the gentleman? Huh? John Arnott and Annanias and Sapphira.

A controlled mountain top experience or a life continually challenged by the demands of the heart of the father.

I want an Active Immediate God who is being God in my life.

But day to day I let other things crowd that out.

2) Not realizing who God is

There was a famous monastery which had fallen on very hard times. Formerly its many buildings were filled with young monks and its big church resounded with the singing of the chant, but now it was deserted. People no longer came there to be nourished by prayer. A handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised God with heavy hearts.

On the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He would come there from time to time to fast and pray. No one ever spoke to him, but whenever he appeared, the word would be passed from monk to monk: "The rabbi walks in the woods." And, for as long as he was there, the monks would feel sustained by his prayerful presence.

Peter had walked with Jesus a long time but he still didn't get it. If he had got it then it wouldn't have been a surprise.

Peter didn't realize who Jesus was

To what extent do you or I realize who God is?

Actions vs belief? - sins and attitudes

But what about the positive: giving of ourselves

- relationship and interaction with God?

- Is God left walking in the woods like the Rabbi?

I need to see and know my Christ transfigured. I need to have the impact of a God who is truly God in my life.

One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and to open his heart to him. So, after morning Eucharist, he set out through the woods. As he approached the hut, the abbot saw the rabbi standing in the doorway, his arms outstretched in welcome. It was as though he had been waiting there for some time. The two embraced like long lost brothers. Then they stepped back and just stood there, smiling at one another with smiles their faces could hardly contain. After a while the rabbi motioned the abbot to enter. In the middle of the room was a wooden table with the Scriptures open on it. They sat there for a moment, in the presence of the Book. Then the rabbi began to cry. The abbot could not contain himself. He covered his face with his hands and began to cry too. For the first time in his life, he cried his heart out. The two men sat there like lost children, filling the hut with their sobs and wetting the wood of the table with their tears.

After the tears had ceased to flow and all was quiet again, the rabbi lifted his head. "You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts," he said, "You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again."

The rabbi looked straight at the abbot and said, "The Messiah is among you." For a while, all was silent. Then the rabbi said, "Now you must go." The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back.

The next morning, the abbot called his monks together in the chapter room. He told them he had received a teaching from "the rabbi who walks in the woods" and that this teaching was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at each of his brothers and said, "The rabbi said that one of us is the Messiah." The monks were startled by this saying. "What could it mean?" they asked themselves. "Is Brother John the Messiah? Or Father Matthew? Or Brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah? What could this mean?" They were all deeply puzzled by the rabbi's teaching. But no one ever mentioned it again.

3) Not realizing who we are

We find it amazing that Peter could walk with Jesus so long and still not get it. Yet we do the same thing.

Paul writes in Romans:

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For Creation was subjected to futility not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of childbirth together until now.

That is who we are the children of God.

Somehow we have to get beyond our self vision

Somehow we have to get beyond our image of those around us.

The transfiguration was a opening of the veil around who Jesus was.

We need an opening of the veil around who we are -

- Sons of God

- The ones Creation is groaning for

How often do you get annoyed with someone or something about this church? I think the average for me is 3 or 4 times a week.

Yet those very same people are the Sons of God. They are the ones that all Creation is groaning for.

They are the ones who are in a special relationship with God, the ones important enough for Christ to die and rise again.

I need to get beyond my sin, my viewpoint and to see these people, these brothers and sisters and the children of God.

Three things: actively seek to engage God, live out a realization of who God really is and the reality of who we as the children of God are.

As time went by, the monks began to treat one another with very special reverence. There was a gentle, wholehearted, human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to notice. They lived with one another as men who had finally found something. But they prayed the Scriptures together as men who were always looking for something. Occasional visitors found themselves deeply moved by the life of these monks. Before long, people were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks and young men were asking, once again, to become part of the community.

In those days, the rabbi no longer walked in the woods. His hut had fallen into ruins. But, somehow, the old monks who had taken his teaching to heart still felt sustained by his prayerful presence.

Thoughts on Psalm 130

He didn't mean to do it. He was important after all. Why shouldn't' he take some time out. A bit of rest, a bit of quiet. After all they didn't need him. Nowadays all they let him do was enjoy the successes.
A quiet time, sunset, the best time of the day. Glorying in the sunset the Lord had made. He didn't know why he looked down but there she was. Naked, the red light playing on her skin. The lust rose, a burning in his belly, the sour taste in the back of his throat.

Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice.

There was an inevitability to it. Once started events flowed. She was gone now and he sat wondering at the depth he had sunk to. Horrified at the betrayal of his friend, the betrayal of God, the betrayal of himself. Yet even now he wanted more.
A few weeks later he got the message. They were hard weeks, fluctuating between guilt and desire. Weeks of praying to a heaven as hard as brass. Weeks of cursing himself. And now the message, she was pregnant; her husband had been gone for months working for him.

Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

He acted immediately, called his friend the husband home, as a pretext asking about the work, and then sent him to his wife. But the man refused, wanting instead to return to his work. Desperation and deeper depth. The words spoken and not recalled. The death of his friend to cover up his sin. Doubly guilty.
He told himself it was about doing one right thing in this mess. A widow and orphan or a wife and child. The wedding followed the funeral.

If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand?

It was over now, no one would ever know. Life could go on. A new wife that he loved dearly and a newborn son. (pause)
This man standing before him. Talking in riddles, asking him about right and wrong.
Complacency shattered. Everyone knew, he had been the example of righteousness, now just another example of sin.

If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.

The child was dying. It was certain, a life created in sin, snuffed out as a consequence. He sought forgiveness, he prayed, fasted. That eternal night caught between despair and hope that the Lord would yet forgive and spare the child.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.

My soul waits for the Lord

More than the watchmen for the morning;

Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.

Seven days, watching, praying, seeking God. Watching the reactions of others as his desperation grew. He threw himself into humbling himself before his Lord. If only he could move the heart of God. If only.
He knew immediately. The mix of fear, sorrow and concern as they entered the room. "He's dead isn't he?" the answer a barely audible "yes".They expected him to react. To do something to himself or them. Instead he felt calm, burnt out.
He washed, changed. He went and worshipped.

Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice. Le your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.

My soul waits for the Lord

More than the watchmen for the morning;

Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is loving kindness

And with him there is abundant redemption

And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

The two absolutes: Sin and the Love of God.

Missing the mark

The large part of the journey of the people of God - Adam and Eve to now has been about seeking a solution to Sin.

This psalm offers one answer. The answer is God himself. In the depths, the midst of his sin, the psalmist cries out to God.

The grace of God, the love of God is the hope of the psalmist.

But the deliverance is not immediate but waited for. Many things may happen before redemption.

There is no doubt in the psalmists mind: God will deliver.

We live our lives in the midst of sin. There are things in my life that have dogged me for years. Things that I can't overcome. Areas of sin in my life that I alternate between accepting and petitioning God to remove.

I have no answer to them. They flow out of me and my desires. I am shown as who I am a sinner who can't do anything without sin.

The psalmist offers the only answer: God the deliverer

The message of the psalmist:

hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is loving kindness

And with him there is abundant redemption

And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

The Rich Young Ruler

Text: Mt 19:16 - 24

Intro

Standard story - rich young ruler as the bad guy
Out of touch with reality
Doesn't see the greatness of the Christ
Misses the offer
Loves his money and position more than Jesus
We have been encouraged to think of ourselves as being with Jesus against the ruler

Who was this young man

Young
Upper middle class
A good jew
Attempting to be righteous

In today's terms

Son of parents who both work - combined salary of about $120K
Parents been members of the church for 20 or 30 years
He is now around 18 yrs.
Both he and his parents are good church people
He has been brought up to do all the right things - has his quiet time, prayer and bible reading
Member of the youth group and regularly attends both church and bible study.
He just feels that despite all this there should be something more.

Does the picture sound familiar?

Here he is talking to Jesus about something more and the question that strikes me is "where are the parents?"

This guy is here and he is asking, the parents don't even get to the question.

Middle

Being comfortable

We like being comfortable.
We like dealing with the expected.
We like to draw a box around what we will do.
We like to know the cost of our commitment before making it.
We like to limit that cost to what we can easily afford.

It is sad because my reading of the bible shows nothing saying that we are called to be comfortable

The pictures I see both in the lives of the disciples and in the imagery used suggest the opposite.

From Paul talking about pummeling his body to make it fit to serve to Jesus calling us to take up, each one of us, a cross to follow him.

From Paul whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned to Christ on the cross.

Brittle theology

The challenge to the young man went beyond that of commitment to what he believed.

Question: who decides what we believe?

Most of what you believe someone taught you

The rest you decided based on what you were taught.

Who taught you?

Was that person fallible or infallible

What we believe is an amalgum of the words of preachers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, writers and people around us.

If we take what we believe and place it next to what God believes about the same things how much correspondance will there be?

There are two things among others that I invest myself in :one is the development and application of theology and the other is teaching.

I have been doing this for over 20 years and I have to say that with my best effort and best ability that my beliefs and my theology are wrong.

They are wrong

As a man I don't have the ability to create pure theology and my expression of that theology is worse.

The young man was challenged on what He believed.

He had been brought up to believe that what he had to do was be a good jew

He had to keep the commandments

He had to do the Passover thing

He had to do the sacrifice thing and so on

Jesus placed before him a demand that went beyond that understanding, that belief.

This was outrageous, it challenged what he believed to be right and proper

When we are challenged in our beliefs what do we do?

Often we have to make a choice between what we believe and God.

This was the case with the young man - he could continue to act in his beliefs or he could follow Jesus.

It sounds absurd but our beliefs are often our greatest idols.

I want to walk in the place where my beliefs are something that enables me to better serve God, but something that God is constantly illuminating, challenging and changing.

End

Where are we today

In the comfort zone where God can't reach us?

Holding onto to beliefs that obscure God rather than revealing him

The Spirit of Discipleship

This sermon was written for Pentecost sunday based on the first two chapters of Acts...

There were three men of God, talking over the coffee. One was a Presbyterian minister, the second was a Catholic priest, and the last was a rabbi. They got talking shop as you do, and were discussing how they divide the offering between their needs and the needs of ministry.

The Presbyterian began by saying, "I use a very simple method. I draw a small circle on the ground, I take the money I throw it in the air and anything that lands in the circle is mine and the rest is God's."

The Catholic priest went next and he said "I use a similar method. except I draw a circle on the ground, and then throw the money in the air anything that lands in the circle is God's and all the rest is mine."

The Rabbi thought for a bit and then said "my method is better than either of yours I simply take the money, I throw in the air and what ever God wants he can keep."

The story demonstrates the various views we have of different churches and the way they see things. It describes, the culture that we see in each of these churches.

From a 1932 clarinet catalogue:

"Like the Bundy clarinet, the Barbier is also made in France in a Selmer-controlled factory, located in a small city near Paris. This plant is operated by water power, on the most economical lines, and is modernly equipped. Under no other circumstances could we offer such a finely-built and splendidly tuned clarinet at such a low price.
"The master hand of Alexandre Selmer stands out in this fine low-priced instrument. His theory briefly is that--so long as we have the correct bore and inner measurements, there is no point in using inferior proportions in our Selmer student line, the Barbier--thus Barbier players benefit by the long, arduous experimental work of the Messrs. Selmer.
"Mr. Selmer has little patience with the ordinary commercial grade of reed instrument. 'Why expect a beginner to learn on an instrument I could not play myself!' he asks, and rightfully."

The culture here, is that of excellence that supersedes questions of cost. Even today, Selmer is one of the leading brands of clarinets.

In the early Church there was a specific culture. This culture was based around an understanding of and life in the Holy Spirit.

I kind of wonder, whether Peter when he first got up to preach that first sermon after being accused of being drunk, of whether he expected God to actually deliver the results that he experienced. 3,000 new people added to the Church after that one sermon.

I don't know! But certainly after the second or third time when he got up to preach and vast numbers were added to the Church, I guess that he would have begun expecting these results.

The early Church, moved quickly into a culture of experiencing, knowing and expecting the Holy spirit to do marvellous things. If we look at that the very early Church, there is very little planning actually happening. It is very clear that the leadership of that Church is very much making it up as it goes along. They are reacting to new things that are happening rather than looking into the future and trying to plan.

Acts chapter two records how the early Church received the Holy spirit.The immediate result of that activity of the Holy spirit was the addition of the 3,000 souls to the Church. A growth in the Church of 276 fold. This was immediately followed by Peter and John, simply walking down the road, minding their own business and getting caught up in a healing incident. Not only was the man healed, but all of a sudden the Church was now five thousand strong.

This culture, this understanding, this knowledge and trust in the Holy spirit, transformed Peter and John from simple fishermen to men who could stand up to the rulers and the leaders of the nation. First Peter and John, and then all the Apostles were taken by the Sanhedrin and instead of being cowed stood up for what they believed in.

It is equally clear that the early Church did not run on a budget. There was no treasurer busy counting up and expecting people to sell all that they had and to use those funds in the Church. And if we want to move on to Church discipline, the story of Ananias and Sapphira should make clear that when they meant discipline they meant discipline!

What was the early Church doing? It seems like the early Church was concentrating on being Church. They were spending time in worship, both in the Jewish worship and also their own worship, spending time in prayer, and teaching, and in the midst of this, in the midst of their normal life they interacted, they experienced, and they watched for the spirit to do things.

I find it fascinating that the greatest missionary impetus of the New Testament, was not planned by a Church board. Rather it was the equivalent of one of our small groups who decided to simply send out two of their leaders to be missionaries.

Well that isn't quite correct, there were a group of people who were there in the spirit, ministering for Lord and the Holy spirit said "set apart for me Paul and Barnabas." The Bible records in Acts chapter 13, that Paul and Barnabas packed their bags and went. This Church here is a direct result of that missionary effort. Without that change, then the Christian Church would have passed by us Gentiles.

And what does a culture of the Holy spirit do about problems? One of the first things that happened on this missionary journey, was that Paul and Barnabas had the opportunity to speak before a Roman official called Sergius Paulus. The only problem was that in this man's court, there was a magician called Elymas who proceeded to heckle and cause problems in the presentation. Paul, guided by the Holy spirit, simply pointed at him and said you will be blind. And so it was.

There is nothing more dangerous, than placing a preacher in front of a microphone. Things haven't changed much. The only difference between the early Church, in this regard and now is we now have microphones. Preachers, quite often don't know when to shut up. And the other thing I have noticed is the more senior the preacher the more animated, and the more energy they can have late at night. In the case of Paul, this was definitely the case

Paul came to a town called Troas. He was leaving the next day, and he was giving his final instructions and encouragement to the leaders and members of that Church. It was late, getting on for midnight, there were lamps in the room, it was hot it was fuggy. Paul just kept on talking and talking. A young man by the name of Eutychus was sitting there on the window sill of this upper room.

Eutychus, fell asleep and slowly fell back out of that window in that upper room. He fell a great height and died. I have been in a Church service, where a man has had a serious heart attack. And I can guarantee that if we had something like that happen in the service then everything would stop, everything would be bedlam for quite a while. In this case this young man had fallen a great height to his death and what is the response? Paul stopped speaking, he says "Hold that thought! he runs down several flights of stairs, reaches out, raises Eutychus from the dead, runs back-up several flights of stairs and says: "Now where was I?"

There was no problem. The Holy spirit had it under control. All Paul had to do, was go with the flow.

This is the culture of the early Church. A culture of the Holy spirit taking part in every aspect of what they did. It is a culture of the of the Holy spirit driving and directing and achieving the results the Church wanted to achieve.

Paul planned, he worked hard, but the increase was given by the spirit. We should plan, we should work hard, and we should have a culture of the Holy spirit that allows the Holy spirit to give us the increase.

Do we as a Church, here today, have a culture of the Holy spirit that is adequate to allow the Holy spirit to bring the increase that we want to achieve?

Are we sufficiently in touch with the Spirit to allow God to do the things he wants to do in this place through us?

I believe that this is a question that we must grapple with. And if we answer this question in the negative, then we must ask the next question which is "what do we need to do to enter in to this culture of the Holy spirit?"

Microsoft is a household word today. It has dominated desktop computing for two decades. How did they get from a tiny company running on a shoestring, developing basic interpreters, to a company that impacts a large proportion of people's lives in the world on a daily basis?

At the end of the 1970s, there were a number of micro computer companies in place selling product. The vast majority of these systems and companies have gone. Today if you want a micro computer you have a choice of an apple or an IBM PC clone. This was the time before the IBM PC. Most PCs were running an operating system called CP/M. IBM themselves didn't have any product in this level of the computer market. However this market had got big enough so they couldn't ignore it any more. They designed a computer from off the shelf hardware and called it the personal computer.

They needed software to run on this personal computer. Microsoft was going to provide a basic interpreter, which was a standard feature of all personal computers of the time. As well as being a programming language, basic was also the operating environment much the same way as Windows is now. When IBM went to visit the owner of CP/M, Digital Research, they refused to sign the non-disclosure agreement with IBM. Microsoft bought an operating system called QDOS, standing for quick and dirty operating system. They used this as the basis of the MS-DOS which later was developed into the Windows that we see today.

It was the combination of a strong hardware computer, a cheap operating system that was good enough, that has placed an IBM PC clone in just about every household and on every desk in business. Without that point of opportunity that was taken, Microsoft would not be a household name it is today.

We see the Apostles, and the other disciples, a total of 120 people sitting in this upper room. This was the end of a long period of preparation. They had been trained, they had walked with Jesus for somewhere around 3 years at this stage. They have been through the process of the death and resurrection of Jesus.And now all they are doing is sitting there.

They do some very minor business. They attempt to choose a replacement for Judas. Depending on your viewpoint, and your theology pretty much defines how you see that activity. Certainly they are not operating in the kinds of ways the we have seen in the first part of the sermon.

If we were to look back at the journey that NationsHeart has been on over the last 5, 6, 7 years, then we can see a huge amount of preparation. We can see a preparation in terms of understanding vision and direction. We can see the preparation in terms of gaining a heart for mission, a heart for reaching out to those roundabout us. We can begin to describe the kind of place we are called to be in terms of the great sayings we have had over the past years.

"We are to be Jesus hands and feet"
"We are to be a people of grace"
"We are to be a Church without walls reaching out to the community and allowing the community to enter."

We know who and what we are to be. We know what we are to do. Perhaps we don't know all the fine detail, but we know the broad direction.

The Apostles and the other disciples were in exactly this position. They had the great Commission, they were to go out and make disciples of all nations. They had the teaching, they had the attitude but they were sitting there.

Jesus had told them to wait. Waiting was what they were doing.

We as a Church had been trained.

We as the Church have been prepared.

We as the Church should be waiting.

A large part of what I have done over the last five or six months, as an Elder, has been watching and partaking in a coming together and a focusing of what God has been calling us to do. It is exciting to stand back and see the promises and the preparation that God has been doing in this place coming into focus and coming closer and closer to the point when it's released.

However we are not there yet. I sit and I look a watch and I think about myself and I think about my colleagues the other Elders and about the people who belong to NationsHeart and say that we're not ready. Just as the Apostles, just as the 120 had the great Commission, just as they had all the preparation and training, just as they had the promises, at the point of their sitting in the upper room, they are not ready.

Just as the 120, had to wait, had to pray, had to exercise faith and seeking God, I believe that we as a Church must enter into a season of prayer and waiting on God for release into the things that he has for us.

The ministers and the elders of this Church are planning to come back and begin to outline the fairly detailed direction in terms of an action plan for this Church over the next two years or so. At that point we must be ready to step out. So I'd encourage each and every one of us to be waiting on God to be praying to ask that he deals with anything that would stand in at the way of us stepping out into the things that he would have for us.

 

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