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Going Deeper into God - A Message to Leaders given in a Pastors' Conference in Raichur, India in June 2002  

Ezekiel 47:1-12

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 further.

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:

  1. Prayer
  2. Bible study
  3. Spiritual gifts, especially prophecy
  4. Evangelism

1. Prayer

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 swim in.

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 Holy Spirit.

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?

4. Evangelism

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 Jesus.

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 him?

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