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Revelation for All Saints Church
20.5.12 10 am

Readings: Je 29v1-10 (p788) Act 16v6-10 (p1111)

AGM question - “What is our vision for next few years?” - I had no firm answer.
Sallie & I prayed for one on Sun night. At 2.30am I woke up and received a vision for our church.
Not sure how to describe it: prophecy is my nearest description - was an hour and a half discussion with God.

What did God want?

65 people to become disciples by the end of 2015.

This is way beyond my expectation of what is possible. Cannot possibly happen by our own efforts or us continuing as we are. 6 people have become Christians in 7 years. This call is for people to become disciples at 25 times the rate we have seen before.

What I didn’t tell you is the talk with God started with God saying:

“Simon, why do you doubt me like Thomas?” My response was: “I’m sorry if I do Lord, but in what way do I doubt you like Thomas?”
“By not believing that I [God] can deliver. You have only seen 1 person a year become Christian - that limits your expectation of what I can do. I am God and can do far more than that.”

In Acts 2 - 3000 were added on one single day. Were about 120 believers before Pentecost. That is approx same starting number as we have on our electoral roll. God did it then. He can do it now!

The call was to add 65 disciples to the church, not 65 people attending. Therefore we need to ask:

What is a disciple?

Romans 10v9 says: If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So what is required to be a disciple?

(a) Not:
to believe God exists.
that God created the universe.
that Jesus was a good man and gave us a marvellous example to follow but that God raised him from the dead.

To raise Jesus from the dead he had to: be born into our world
be of flesh and blood like us so he could die
die (for our sins)

He did not die as an example - he died and was raised from the dead - which proved he was God as well as man (Romans 1v4).

(b) Belief is not something we do with our minds alone. It is not a theory we sign up to - like believing E = MC2. Even as a scientist E = MC2 was a theory most of the time. I didn’t ever doubt it was true but it had virtually no impact on my daily life - even in my scientific career.
We believe in our hearts - it is something that not only occurs in the mind but stirs our hearts. Belief engages our whole being.

(c) Faith is not a private matter.

At a Churches Together election, the candidates were asked to say what being a Christian meant to the candidate. One candidate refused to answer, saying his faith was a private matter.

That answer is unacceptable. We have to confess with our mouths. That doesn’t mean we all have to be prepared to stand on market hill and preach to the passing crowds like Billy Graham or Ian Copeman. But it does mean, at the very least, when we are asked, we will give a verbal answer.

Notice :- it does not have to be a 5 minute explanation of the gospel. The following, taken from Romans 10v9 will do: “I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead so that I can be saved.” What we are required to say out loud is 20 words. Takes 7 seconds to say that.

(d) We confess with our mouths that: Jesus is Lord.

Do not just believe a theory in our hearts and minds - in believing the theory we accept Jesus as Lord.
An old fashioned lord (think Lord of the Manor in medieval times) had absolute power over his serfs.
They had to obey his commands. To accept Jesus as Lord is not an entrance ticket to heaven so we carry on as we are, but a bit happier. Jesus is Lord - he is now in control of our lives.

That control is for the better. God is at work in us (Philippians 2v13). He will transform us so we reflect God’s glory. (2 Corinthians 3v18) Wow - that’s worth something! But a Lord does not change people for their own benefit alone - he has people work for him and the good of his manor. In our case - the manor we work for is The Kingdom of God. If we do all these things we can be saved.

Salvation is not a one off event. We serve our Lord and want to serve him better, grow more like him; seek his will. People like that are not servants - they are disciples. God’s call to us is that he would like to add 65 people to this church who are like that. They want to be saved and become disciples.

Are you a disciple of Jesus?
If not - please don’t feel guilty. The question is not asked to make you feel second rate. I ask it to prompt you to do something about it. Join the START course. See the pew sheet for details or contact Simon: Sudbury 375334 or sallie.simon@tinyworld.co.uk

What will it mean?
If 65 disciples join the church, they will change it. They won’t turn up on a Sunday, leave things to carry on as they are. Maybe help on a few of the rotas. We will end up being a different community:
a better one, a healthier one, a more vibrant one.

But is that what we want?
That is what was going on throughout the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He spent his life giving a call to Israel not too dissimilar to the one I give you today. Usually he was ignored. Chapt 29 - he outlined a vision that was contrary to everyone’s expectation:

Judah was a state controlled by the Babylonian Empire. It had rebelled against Babylon so its then king, all his key leaders and supporters had been carried into exile in Babylon. A new king had been installed in Judah. Those left behind thought they must be God’s chosen ones, as they had been spared. (See 2 Kings 24)

Jeremiah made it clear that they were wrong. (Summary of Jeremiah 29)
“God is going to work largely with the people who have gone, not those who remain.
You who are left can get ready to serve those who have gone when they get back.
Those who return will be God’s focus, not those who are left behind.”

Our focus needs to be on those who are to join us, not ourselves. Christianity has been described as the only organisation which exists for the benefit of those who are not yet members. That’s a great description, but it will involve sacrifice on our part; a change of mindset. We are not asking people to join us and become like us. God is calling us to change so we will be in a fit state for others to join.

What do we do?
Grow in each of following areas:
1. worship
We need a deeper relationship with God, expressed in the way we worship.

2. giving
Mission needs resources. It will need our time - but also our money.

3. not relying on just vicar or ministry team (ministry team = 11 people) It needs entire church to be mobilized.

4. prayer - all this can only happen by a work of God. We need to change gear in the way we pray.

I mention this last - but this is where we start. We need the Holy Spirit to move mightily in this town.
The only thing we can do to make that happen is pray.

How do you feel as you read this? I’ll forgive you if feel a bit shell shocked. I’ve been here 7 years and this is the first time I’ve claimed to have heard detailed vision of God. I appreciate this will take a bit of absorbing. Please start with this last point - please go away and pray like you never have before!

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Contact vicar:

Rev'd. Simon Gill Telephone: Sudbury 375334

e- mail: vicar@allsaints-sudbury.co.uk