In the book of Revelation, we read the same phrase in several places (eg Rev 2:7, 11, 17 TNIV): ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ I found it very interesting during this weekend in London to hear essentially the same messages we have been hearing from a range of preachers at home! God is clearly speaking similar messages through a variety of His servants so that many will hear what He has to say to individual churches and to the Church as a whole.

The first sermon we heard (from the newly ordained Tim Hughes!) was from 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 TNIV, a passage Mark preached from in April (‘Dream Cross Code’). Here, the message was that so often, situations come in life where we do not know what to do but need to turn our eyes to God. When we worship, we lift our eyes. We remind ourselves and others that our God reigns and so we find rest for our souls. The deliverance God brings will not depend on our actions and strategies but will come as we focus on God and worship Him. Our part is to ‘stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.’ (2 Chron 20:17 TNIV)

Alan Scott’s sermon on Psalm 8 reminded us that God’s glory is set high above the heavens and He has established a stronghold against His enemies to silence the foe and the avenger. When we praise God, we actually can change the atmosphere and culture all around us, for we are proclaiming by faith the ultimate reality of God and His kingdom – this may seem invisible to all around us, but as we speak out the truth of God’s word, we can see the invisible become visible (a theme touched on in September’s sermon ‘Agreeing with God.’) He went on to talk about the vision of Jesus given to John in Revelation 1 and reminded us that it is the revelation of God which creates the revolution in us; John knew Jesus as the Suffering Servant, but here was given fresh revelation to see Him also as the Risen King. He also reminded us that the temptation is often to ‘fix’ problems and try to solve mankind’s problems in our own strength, but we must understand that God has called His children to be worshippers and it is in this realm that the reality of the invisible world is made visible.

This theme of encountering God being the major requirement for the church and for each believer was taken up by Pete Greig, who spoke from Isaiah 6. It has been the theme of many a sermon in Goldthorpe too, for it is only when we encounter God that the transformation in us can take place which is necessary if we are to become more like Christ. Sermons on the kind of hero God is looking for (on the Beatitudes) and on the qualities we need to add to our faith (2 Peter 1:3-9 TNIV) have reminded us that there is no substitute for our personal walk with God. Pete Greig made a comment which I think bears repeating: “God appoints for the honour of public service those who honour their private appointments with Him.” There really is no hidden secret to spiritual success; rather, the basics of prayer, commitment to God’s word, fellowship and witnessing are all important. (‘The Basics Never Stop Being Important’)

To summarise, then, what is the Spirit saying to the church in these days?
1) Keep your eyes on God
2) Understand the authority and power He has given to us as believers and use this to speak out God’s decrees and see the invisible become visible as you agree with God rather than with your own feelings or the things you see around you
3) Recognise that personal holiness is a prerequisite for spiritual success. We are to be ‘set apart’ for God.
4) Worship God and allow Him to bring the deliverance that is needed in our own lives and for our communities to be changed.