Going Deeper into God - A Message to Leaders
given in a Pastors' Conference in Raichur, India in June 2002
God wants us to go deeper into him. It's not
just a matter of prayer and bible study. It's a matter of taking risks for God.
However far you've come in your Christian life, he wants to take you
If we want the people in our churches to
grow, we must grow. If we want the people in our churches to deepen in their
relationship with God, then we must deepen in our relationship with God.
We are under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd.
The shepherd walks in front of his sheep, the sheep follow the shepherd. So we
need to be one step ahead of the flock, so that they can follow. A pastor
cannot take people into places in God where he has not been.
Paul tells us to be "imitators of God". We
are to be holy as God is holy. We cannot do this by ourselves. We are charged
with the responsibility of equipping the saints, leading them to maturity,
until they attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
As pastors you will be called to give a
double account - first for your own life, and second for the people God has
given you to care for. This is a big responsibility and you need the grace of
God and the power of the Holy Spirit to help you.
There are four areas where God wants to lead
you into deeper waters:
- Bible study
- Spiritual gifts, especially prophecy
How deep is your prayer life - are you ankle
deep? God wants you to go knee-deep. Are you knee-deep? God wants you to go up
to your waist. Are you waist-deep? God wants to take you into waters deep
enough to swim in.
He's calling you to intercession. Moses was
an intercessor. He spent 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain in the presence
of God. He ate no food, he drank no water. God gave Moses his commandments at
this time. Intercession is not about coming to God with a shopping list.
Intercession is about falling before God in humility, seeking his face, seeking
his voice. It's not about us talking, it's about us listening. We need to
listen, close our mouths and open our ears. God will speak to us.
After Moses spent these 40 days and 40 nights
on the mountain, he brought down the tablets of stone. But the people had
fallen into sin and made for themselves a golden idol in the shape of a calf
and they worshipped it. Moses was angry and threw down the tablets of stone and
they broke to pieces. Then he went back up the mountain for a further 40 days
and 40 nights - he fell prostrate before God. He interceded for the people.
Intercession is not about going to God to get
something for yourself. It's about going to God on behalf of the people. It's
about standing in the gap, it's about confessing their sin before God and
asking him to intervene. Many of the Old Testament prophets and great men and
women of God interceded before him for the people. Think of Esther, think of
Nehemiah, think of Ezekiel.
God wants you to deepen your prayer life.
It's costly, it involves sacrifice, it's risky. Because as you move into
intercessory prayer, God will deal with you first. He will have to purify you.
He will need to burn up things from your life that are not pleasing to him.
Are you willing for this? Will you go deeper into him?
2. Bible Study
I know you study the word of God, but how
deep is your well of knowledge? He wants to take you further. Maybe you're
ankle-deep, he wants you to be knee-deep. Proverbs 1:2-7 tells us how to add to
our knowledge and wisdom: "...for attaining wisdom and discipline; for
understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young, let the wise listen and add to their
learning, and let the discerning get guidance, for understanding proverbs and
parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." James 1:5
tells us "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
Pastors need wisdom. Many of you are young
men, you need the wisdom of God to care for your flock. How will you preach to
people "...the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make plain to everyone the
administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who
created all things?" How will you do this unless you get revelation yourself?
This means paying the cost, giving yourself to studying the word.
In the book of Acts we read that the church
was growing rapidly, there were many needs among the people. It's the same
today. The disciples gathered the people together and said, "It would not be
right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on
tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of
the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and
will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." Acts 6:2-4
The Pastor doesn't have to do everything. You
can delegate many tasks. The shepherd has to feed the sheep. In order to do
that, he needs to be full himself. It's costly, it involves sacrifice, but it's
exciting. As you give yourself to study, God opens up to you the vastness of
his riches, the glory of his word. As you go deeper into him, your people will
want to go deeper. You cannot take people where you have not been. Are you
willing for this? Will you go deeper into him?
3. Spiritual Gifts, especially Prophecy
Pauls says in 1 Cor. 13:2 "Now about
spiritual gifts brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." He says in 1 Cor
14:1 "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the
gift of prophecy."
How deep is your experience in spiritual
gifts? Are you ankle-deep? Maybe you're standing on the bank of the river and
you haven't even stepped in yet. Maybe you've just put your toe in. Maybe
you're already flowing in the gifts, God wants you to go deeper into waters to
We need the power of the Holy Spirit in these
days. Maybe you are not yet baptised in the Holy Spirit. Maybe you're unsure
about the whole thing. You'll notice that even in the administration of waiting
on tables, the disciples said choose seven men who are known to be full of the
Joel 2:28 says, "And afterward, I will pour
out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old
men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." This is for today,
this is for everyone, this is for men and women.
Are you eagerly desiring spiritual gifts? The
gift of tongues is the gateway to all the other gifts. Are you baptised in the
Holy Spirit? Do you know this dimension? If you are not desiring this, I want
to ask you a challenging question. Why not? Why stay on the bank of the river
wondering. Take a risk and plunge in!
On the bank of the river were fruit trees of
all kinds. Their leaves did not wither, their fruit did not fail, every month
they bear fruit, not just in June for the mangos, every month! Their fruit will
serve for food and their leaves for healing. What a wonderful picture. I want
to be like one of those trees, continually producing fruit.
The spiritual gifts can be like keys, they
can unlock situations in people's lives. The word of knowledge particularly can
be a dynamic demonstration of God's knowledge to people. God is asking, "How
long will you stay on the river bank, will you take a risk and plunge in?"
Are you willing for this? Will you go deeper into him?
How are you all doing? Is this too
challenging? Can you take some more? How are you doing in the area of
evangelism? How deep have you gone? We are not all evangelists, but we are all
called to do the work of an evangelist.
Maybe I shouldn't be saying this to you,
because we are here doing gospel meetings, you're doing it, praise the Lord!
You're better at it than we are in England. Many Christians in England are
frightened of evangelism and find it very hard to talk to people about
Many of us need to go deeper in this area. I
work in a big office at home, they know I'm a Christian, they know I've come to
India. They know why I've come to India. But they don't know Jesus, it's hard
for me, God needs to give me more boldness in this area.
What about you? This is another area where
Pastors need to be an example to the people. We cannot take people where we
have not been ourselves. It's risky, it's costly, but the rewards are great.
The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who has been saved. Sometimes the
hardest people to reach are your own family. Our pride must be laid down.
Are you willing to go deeper? You may already
be waist-deep, but he wants to take you into waters deep enough to swim in.
Maybe God has spoken to you very clearly today. Maybe he's calling you to a new
level of ministry. Are you willing for this? Will you go deeper into