pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
CALLING
Nikki Walker

“The most significant thing about you, is whatever drops into your mind when you hear the word “God”…” AW Tozer

This weekend saw the welcome return visit of Paul Gibbs to Riviera Life.
His words challenged us to leave the confines of our default understanding and really question who we are and why we’re here.

Jesus didn’t just come to rescue you, but to recruit you. As we live the life of “stretch” that comes with a recruit’s territory, we are actually “rescued” along the way.
You are here because you have been specifically chosen. Why? Because until the moment He breathed life into you, there was no one with your unique combination of capabilities. He has given you purpose and a calling, and as He draws you towards Himself, He desires to see you released into the one thing that only you can accomplish.

We live our lives full of questions, but our entire walk, including the stuff we don’t understand, builds character in the process. It’s true that one day, we will be “changed” in an instant, to become more like him. But we have a mandate today to reach out and grasp tightly hold of Him – in doing so, we swallow the enemies territory. Whilst following God’s laws make me a better person, by living and out working them, I take an area of this world from the enemy and establish it as my Saviour’s. Where I set my feet spiritually, the ground becomes His.

With this in mind, a powerful Body of Christ is one that is growing in numbers. It’s not about building huge churches, that established Christians all migrate to because it looks or sounds good. Transference of footfall is taking nothing back from the enemy, it’s just musical chairs. It’s every new decision for Christ that destroys the enemies work.

An effective Christian is one who is faithfully outworking their calling, fulfilling their God designed destiny.

How does God shape our Calling?

1/ Spread your roots wide:
Don’t be lazy. Wide roots can draw sustenance from a greater surface area. Many sources, resulting in much fruit. Connect, reach out, partner, help and serve one another. You will learn and grow as you do.

2/ Make the right calculations:
Relationships are special, but they should also be spatial. Some people in your life will be a big influence, others may only play a small part in your decision making. Recognise that sometimes we choose to spend time with those who no longer challenge us because it makes for a more comfortable life. In doing so, we neglect or miss out on quality encounter with those who would be more beneficial in developing our walk.

Do life with the people who carry a gifting similar to the one you are called to, but be careful that you don’t rely on the same people for everything. Jesus drew from many different sources during His time on Earth.

3/ Be open minded:
Understand that God uses diversity in building His Kingdom. Someone who is ‘not like you’, can still be ‘for you’. Different flavours, different styles can reap the same fruit. Beware of exclusivity, and don’t allow insecurity to rob you of God’s purpose for you. We should all be motivated to see those around us fully released into their calling.

4/ Learn to discern:
We spend our life bombarded by voices. Don’t ever get caught up with personality or charisma. When someone shares a word with you, always consider their track record. Look at their family, the way they live life. Understand that maturity needs to be seen and heard.
Identify the source of any word before acting upon it. It can fall into three categories:

Imagination: If it’s a true word from God, it won’t be ambiguous and you will be able to test and weigh it against scripture.

Manipulation: God speaks to us clearly, and is often repetitive and focused on one aspect at a time. Manipulative advice will often contradict the current season’s challenges, or come out of nowhere, seem vague or conversely, heavy handed and extreme.

Revelation: True revelation will always harm the enemy. If it’s revelation, it will be endorsed by scripture and accompanied by the witness of the Holy Spirit. Don’t confuse this with a sense of peace, sometimes the very thing God asks us to do can be scary! If it’s revelation – do it! Throw your life into it.

The calling on your life is not ‘yours’. It belongs to The One who chose and equipped you to do it. You cannot qualify by being ‘Holy’, God does the dramatic even when we’re heading in the wrong direction. He qualifies you.

“Today I shall give ample space for this un-telling God of mine to show me His will.
This calling is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect and not to keep. Nothing shall prevent Him from accomplishing His will..”
Gene Edwards – The Tale of Three Kings (Para-phrased)

We serve a God with no limits. If you’re uncertain of your calling, why not ask Him to show you today, and buckle up for the ride!

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
Ordinary to Extraordinary – Building the Local Church
Nikke Walker

As we journey further into “Volunteering month” at Riviera Life, Jon continued to share with us, his compelling insight into the twelve Disciples. Twelve ordinary, everyday, normal men, just like you and I. No momentous gifting, achievement or saintly reputation among them – just a group of diverse, often complicated individuals, coming together under a common cause. The cause? Jesus’ invitation. The ground they shared? These men all said “Yes!”

Today the same invitation rings out: “Will you come and be a part of it?” He has chosen each one of us, we all have an important part to play. Paul reminds us “Together we are His House..” (Ephesians 2:20)

It makes no difference how you perceive what you may or may not have to offer in the grand blueprint for building the Kingdom. The fact remains, God knew you before you were formed, and He knows the value of the contribution you can make to local church. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are a vital part of it’s infrastructure. Just like the Disciples, you are positioned to outwork purpose.

Let’s take a brief look at the remaining characters included in Jesus’ selection.

Philip: A pessimistic, cynical individual. A man who had studied and searched for truth all his life, yet when Jesus called him by name, a new sense of “found-ness” flooded his heart and set a fire burning within him that would change his life. He showed great aptitude for logistics, practical problem solving and organising. He was a facilitator. Philip got the job done! We thank God for people like Philip, the Church would fail to function without them. A practical, rolling up of the sleeves, approach, working alongside supernatural faith is effective and fruitful.

Matthew: As a Tax Collector, Matthew had his work cut out when it came to being in with the in crowd. He went through radical change, giving up wealth and security for a life of poverty and uncertainty. Jesus stirred great debate when he chose Matthew, but, as He reminded the Pharisees when questioned, He came to seek and save the lost, the unloved, those hated and marginalised. He further demonstrated this truth, by sitting at Matthew’s table and sharing a meal with him. Who are you willing to sit with in order to show Gods love and grace?

Thomas: Poor Thomas! Ultimately, he’s gained a really sad reputation among many Christians, but in effect, and if we were honest, he behaved exactly as the majority of us would if placed in the same circumstances. He had to tendency to see the worst in everything, but he was utterly devoted to the call and Jesus loved him unreservedly. Even when we feel we may not qualify or we’ve missed the mark, God desires to bless us and use us. He is faithful when we are faithless.

The lessons go on. From Thaddeus or Judas (Jude or Lebbaeus) we see that the God needs people who care for and protect His Church. From Nathanael we learn that when integrity is central in our lives, we give God permission to move. James (The Lesser) encourages us to grasp that God will use us even if we feel insignificant. Simon demonstrates God’s inclusivity. The fact that he calls people who are different, and unifies them together, even when, in the natural, their paths would unlikely ever cross. Just like local church, we can see different people, different backgrounds, joined as one in building together.

As much as we may question the appointment of Judas among the twelve, we also know that God’s ways are higher than our own. Jesus knew He would be betrayed and that Judas would be the one to do it. God used the fact that Judas had a different agenda and enabled His purposes to be out worked through this disillusioned and frustrated young man’s rebellion.

“You will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you, whether you serve like Judas or John..” CS Lewis

All of the Disciples are a great source of inspiration to us. different, unique, ordinary people, moving in the extraordinary. Called, chosen, equipped.

Why them? Because they accepted the invitation…

Will you accept?

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
LIVE FOR GOD OR LIVE WITH GOD?
Robin Hart

Are you focussed on what you are doing for God or are you content just being with Jesus?

As Christians we often think that what we do for Jesus is most important and there is a danger we can latch onto this and make this our purpose and identity in life. The question is, is what you are doing for Jesus distracting you from being with Jesus?

How easily are we distracted in what we do for Jesus? Or what we think we need to do for Jesus? What we ‘do’ can become the be-all in our lives, the reason for our existence, our Christian walk can become all about what we can do, all about the task. Then the task becomes all about us, what other people think, living for other peoples’ approval.

But when you think about it, living a Christian life is not about what we can do but what we can’t do! Because we can’t live without the grace of a forgiving God. Because we continually fail in our own strength. Because we have a human nature. Because we are only made righteous in the likeness of Jesus Christ.

There is always a need for workers in the kingdom. But we must constantly be aware that there is nothing that we do that justifies us in God’s sight, only by recognising that He is our saviour and by sitting at His feet.

In Luke 10:38-42 and John 12:1-3 Martha got caught up in the task of looking after Jesus and doing things for Him. When her sister Mary just wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet or wanted to wash His feet in expensive perfume she got upset.

Mary wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet because she recognised that she needed to remain close to Jesus. She recognised that service did not mean a higher seat at the righteousness table. Only now do we understand that actually there was no service really good enough for Martha to undertake for a God who was prepared to sacrifice His only son for her. But somehow Mary did. In the legalism of the society in which she lived Mary was castigated for wanting just to sit at Jesus’ feet. But she recognised that His words brought life, liberty, freedom and hope. She didn’t want to get distracted, she just wanted to hear Jesus. She wasn’t interested in other peoples’ praise.

Don’t let your passion become a duty. Duty can lead to pride and the burden of fulfilling other peoples’ expectations of you. Instead keep your passion aflame by daily drinking living waters from the source of life itself. Let Jesus’ words bring life to you and don’t let your works for Him distract you from Him.

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams

REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…” – Philippians 4: 4-7

These were Paul’s words to a very unique church – the first to be planted in Europe and a role model in terms of style and conduct for the Body of Christ. They displayed financial generosity and a hunger for prayer, demonstrating church as it should be, with fellowship and friendship at the centre. None of these things were without challenge though. The church at Philippi knew what it was to suffer hardship and persecution – life certainly wasn’t a bed of roses, but Paul encouraged them not to be anxious in the midst of uncertainty:

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray…. Shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of Gods wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life…”

When we rejoice, we unleash Gods peace. The two go hand in hand. They are intrinsically linked. Harmony and wellness are the result of a life lived in a state of rejoicing. Peace which transcends (goes above and beyond) all understanding is free to step in and provide comfort and protection from the thoughts and feelings which can trouble our hearts and minds.

So the question is: “How much rejoicing do you have in your rejoice tank?” Your ability to rejoice should be unaffected by external difficulties – sickness, hardship, famine, persecution – all can be overcome by our focus on God the Father. Whatever your circumstances today, take comfort from the truth we find in Psalm 30:5:”Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning..”

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams

TEN REASONS

Robin Hart

Why do you love Jesus? Can you provide a rehearsed answer …an answer you think others will want to hear … or perhaps you can provide a real honest answer, one that really touches your heart. The truth is, what motivates you to do the right thing when you have choices in life is not your interpretation of others’ expectations of you but your own raw honest faith and belief. So understanding why you do what you do and say what you say is important.

Simon Travers spoke yesterday morning on ‘Ten Reasons why I love Jesus’. Here are his ten reasons for you.

1. Jesus is not mechanical. Jesus did not fit others’ expectations of Him. Jesus does the unexpected and values honesty. Get close to Him to know where He is heading.

2. Jesus has enough grace. For you. Regardless of what you have done. He loves you just the way you are. He is not going to desert you.

3 .Jesus doesn’t force. You have no authority to live the life you do from education, position, intellect, expectation, culture, environment or even force. Your authority comes from Jesus and Him alone. You don’t need to look like other people, even other Christians. Your identity comes from Him. You are complete.

4 Jesus is passionate. The world wants the church to be domesticated but we need to grow up to the stature of Jesus Christ. Jesus is passionate about you so wear your heart upon your sleeve.

5. Jesus makes things possible. We belong to the church of the possible. Because you have Jesus you can love your enemies, you can be generous, you can live by not judging others or worrying about being judged.

6. Jesus is faithful. We get things wrong but Jesus persists with us. He perseveres because He is committed to us and because we live under His new covenant with us.

7. Jesus reminds me not to worry. My real nature in Christ is to be loving, joyful and patient. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this.

8. Jesus knows my reality. Sometimes we need to push through in life and sometimes we have to just open our arms to accept His love.

9. Jesus is congruent. Everything flows in the same direction – words match thoughts match deeds.

10. Jesus is with me. My prize is in Jesus, is Jesus. That is enough. There is nothing I can add to my salvation. We have died with Him and now we live with Him.

Try meditating on your ten reasons through this week and thank Jesus for everything He is to you.
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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliamsRev. Ian WilliamsTHE CROWD

Jackie Williams

“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge Crowd of Witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12 v 1

Every 2012 Olympic race & competition I have watched I have been highly conscious of the crowd; the noise, the cheering, the chanting, the applause, the standing ovations. Every interview I have witnessed whether with athlete, athlete supporter or commentator there has been mention of The Crowd.

The “crescendo of enthusiastic noise” and emotion and energy of the crowd in some way being transmitted to the athlete to “carry him over the line” or as Olympic, 10,000m Champion, Mo Farrah described “The Crowd pulled me around the last lap!”

I can only be challenged by the impact and influence of The Crowd! The choice of the crowd to cheer on the runners, I can only conclude, contributes to the experience of the athlete and dare I say even affects the outcome of the race!

Let us choose to cheer on all of our fellow runners in this Race of Life, particularly those who currently have a centre stage slot to run a significant heat, when maybe our own race is being run in obscurity and pain.

In doing so let us be encouraged that there is a “huge crowd of witnesses” (Heb 12 v 1) Heroes of the Faith, all of whom have competed and won in this Race of Life, who are cheering us on in our daily Race. So let this Crowd influence how we run today and every day. Let this Crowd propel, even carry us forward with endurance toward the “Prize for which God thro Christ Jesus is calling us.”

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
THE TALE OF TWO LUMBERJACKS:

Ecclesiastes 10:10
“If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success!”

One young man and one older man raced to see who could cut down the most trees in a single day. At the end of the day the winner was obvious. The older lumberjack had won. The younger man could not believe it!

“How could you have cut down more trees than I did?” He asked.

“Every hour you sat down while I kept right on cutting. I don’t understand. How could you have cut more trees while sitting so much?”

When I sat down, I was sharpening my axe, the older lumberjack said. “Why didn’t you stop to sharpen your axe?”

The younger one replied, “I was too busy cutting”!

A great illustration for us to learn from! We can become so busy in life that we lose our edge without realising it, causing us to work ineffectively and inefficiently. Don’t lose your cutting edge in life, in marriage and in the way you serve. During this week make time to sharpen your axe head so you become renewed and revived.

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
TOUCH
Robin Hart

Physical touch may not feel natural but it can be significant and powerful. Touch communicates love and acceptance whereas an absence of touch can cause neglect and disconnection.

Jesus had a ministry in healing through touch. There are many examples of this (see the bible references).

It is recorded in Luke 6:17-19 that Jesus healed the multitude who had come to see Him. All who He touched were healed without exception.

In Luke 5:12-16 Jesus meets a man with advanced stage leprosy. Touch is how leprosy is transmitted yet Jesus reached out and touched the man. Jesus chose to heal through touch, he touched the untouchables, the outcasts of society who others were too frightened to. Jesus looked at the complete person and gave them their life back again.

What lesson should we learn through this passage? Should we do more to touch the untouchables? Think of those who are the untouchables in your community. Allow God to use you. Love and accept others and don’t forget the healing touch that Jesus Christ brings.

In Luke 8:43-48 the scripture recalls the time when a woman with a 12 year affliction of menstrual bleeding wanted to touch Jesus. She was branded unclean by Levitical law and was deprived of touching others or being touched. Yet one day she heard that Jesus was coming, the man who touched the untouchables and she was filled with hope. Within the throng she only managed to touch His cloak yet immediately she was healed, set free and cleansed all in one go. She left that place whole, carrying with her the gift of touch that she could now share.

Jesus wants us to reach out and touch Him. Don’t let your issues or problems stop you from reaching out to Him. Feel the hand of the Saviour on your life, embrace the gift of touch and use it to bring healing to a broken and lonely world.

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
VISION

Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law’ – Proverbs 29.18.

Scripture is full of Vision for our lives, grasping this is a necessity, without it we will struggle to fulfil our potential and we can become ineffective and disillusioned.

There is also congregational vision that is conceived in the hearts of its leadership. This vision enriches our congregational lives in many ways:

• It enhances unity.
• It motivates change.
• It lifts the level of giving.
• It puts our priorities in order.
• It breeds confidence.
• It brings challenges.

Personal vision captures the heart of the individual but should always sit alongside congregational vision, ultimately because they are from the same architect.

Vision can be cast by some and then caught by others. Those who catch it then carry the vision and outwork it into their community.

Vision is often described as foresight with insight based upon hindsight. This definition underscores the importance of looking to the future and also emphasises the significance of possessing an awareness of current circumstances, while noting the value of learning from the past.

Let’s work together to fulfil God’s plan for our church. Pray for the Leaders that we can clearly cast and implement our God given vision.

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams
WHAT A MAN!

‘He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’ Acts 11:24

What an amazing personal description. It applies to Barnabas, a member of the early Church. He is introduced in Acts 4 and his actual name is Joseph. He is a Levite from Cyprus but he gains the nickname Barnabas, which means ‘son of encouragement’, to break it down he was:

A GOOD MAN

A nickname sticks when it describes you, he is an encourager, he’s generous and he proactively disciples and supports others. The Bible tells us that he sows into the Church, he sells a field that he owns and gives the money to the apostles for them to distribute, he is interested in the development of new Christians as he is the man who searches out Saul when other leaders didn’t dare to.

FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

This isn’t a reference to a one off moment of Holy Spirit soaking; it is a reference to a man living in the fullness of what God the Holy Spirit has for him. Ephesians 5:18 tells Christians to be filled (a continual filling) with the Holy Spirit. Barnabas was a man continually filled and therefore a man ‘full of the Holy Spirit’.

FULL OF FAITH

Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), no matter how good a person you are. Romans 10:17 tells us that ‘faith comes by hearing the message’. Let’s determine to be people who please God by being men and women who are people full of faith.

Let us aspire to be a sons and daughters of encouragement, good, full of the Holy Spirit and full of faith.

Aspiring to be a Barnabas today.

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