Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Stress-Free Living

This sermon was preached by Rob Rufus on Sunday 17th May 2009 at City Church International in Hong Kong.

"Open your Bibles to wherever you feel like going this morning! Matthew chapter 6. Revelation? No - we are getting to the book of Revelation at the right time. The "Benjamin Generation", Revelation and the Great High Priest. 3 series all ready to go but God has put the pause button on that because He wants us to move into the realm of peace and recognise we are His workmanship and how to work with God and partner with God. I thought my wife looked particularly beautiful when she was giving the announcements today. I felt a romantic moment there which was a bit dangerous! I have recovered and I am back in the Spirit now - I was a bit in the flesh. But I am now in the Spirit! (*sings*) - "To wake up each morning just with you by my side. To offer a prayer each day for you. To drown in your laughter ... ". Okay let's go!

Testimony: "I am shocked at just how good the good news of the Gospel is. I am shocked that it is not preached like this by every church that fears God. But I am infinately grateful that I have heard the truth of this gospel ... We have started seeing manifestations like gold dust, incense and more. I have never lived with a greater hunger to see God's people set free and for them to know just how good God is ... Keep kicking the devil and his cronies in the teeth - it is so worth it!".

We literally have hundreds of testimonies from around the world of people getting healed and delivered from the demonic, release of resources and God is giving us partnerships. They are leaving denominational institutional religion and finding relationships that are authentic, full of integrity and full of callings, giftings and commissionings. No denominational headquarters because Jesus is the Headquarters! Heaven is the H.Q and God is moving on the earth in a fresh way! How many of you believe it is appropriate to walk in humility as more and more people are thanking us and praising us? When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a simple little donkey and the people threw palm branches down and shouted "Hosannah in the highest!" - how many of you know how ugly and inappropriate it would be for that donkey to think they were doing it for him?! Roman emporers rode into cities they had conquered on big stallions with flaring nostrils and trumpets. Jesus - the integrity of His identity - did not need additions or props - He came in on a simple donkey because He knew He was the Son of the glory of God. Jesus needs donkeys to carry the glory of God!

Freedom is the freedom from being wrapped up in yourself.

The most depressed people on the planet are those who have themselves on their minds. The formula for deliverance from depression is to not be self-concious and to not be wrapped up in yourself!

People that are wrapped up in themselves make very small packages!

You cannot get depressed if you are not on your mind!

The great Corrie Ten Boom who did such great work during the 2nd World War said; "If I look at myself I get depressed, if I look at the world's state I get oppressed, but if I look at Jesus then I really get impressed!".

The worst thing a worship leader can do before a meeting is to say to everyone; "Bow your heads - we are going to have one minute's silence and you inspect your heart and investigate and scrutinise your inner being to see if there is any sinful ways there". That is Old Covenant stuff! That is the Law that is gloom and doom! Scrutinise your heart - introspect - see if there is anything there that is sinful and wrong and ugly and then you will be ready to worship God. You will NOT be ready to worship God! You will be ready to slit your wrists because you will feel so morbid because you and me are not "it" - we are not to be self-concious but Christ-concious!

Jesus was reclining at a lounger having dinner one day and a woman who was a prostitute ran and fell at His feet and worshipped Him and He said; "Daughter your faith has made you whole - you are forgiven". What came first? Morbidity? Introspection? Repentance? Or worship? Worship came first! A man with 5, 000 demons that would snap chains came running when he saw Jesus and worshipped Him and Jesus delivered him of one legion of demons. What came first? Repentance, introspection? No!

Worship comes first in all of life because worship takes our minds off ourselves and onto God! That is what worship is! When you are a worshipper you are not self-concious! Self-conciousness is the worst curse you could live under but Christ-conciousness is the blessing of God!

There are three times in the New Testament that the Bible says "Examine yourself" and the context is grace and not morbidity. Many times in the Old Covenant it is introspective, sackcloth, ashes and negativity - that is not the Kingdom of heaven!

We must never be foolish enough to think that our sins are bigger and more important than God's infinite solution in grace at the Cross!

You may feel at times that your sins and your mistakes are so bad but they are nothing compared to God's answer through Jesus Christ at the Cross - you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!

The Bible says in 1st John 4:17; "As Jesus is in heaven, so are you in this earth". As He is so are you in this earth! God doesn't examine you to see whether you are good enough or holy enough - He looks at Jesus to see if Jesus is good enough and holy enough and He says; "Yes You are and as He is so are you in this earth!". He looks at Jesus to see if He needs to repent of any sins and says "No - He doesn't!" and THAT is how He sees you! As He is - so are you in this earth!

It's awesome isn't it!? Today I want to talk about "Stress-Free living!". Stress-free working in Hong Kong! I want to talk about living worry-free, anxious-free! "Rob I have faith for raising the dead but I don't know if I have faith for that!". No! Stress-free living is the will of God! Jesus had no special advantages over you and me. His divinity was fully restrained within His humanity and He came to the earth as last Adam with no more advantages than you and I had except that He was born righteous from a virgin and never sinned once but He gave us the gift of righteousness and we have a co-equal righteousness with Christ because we are now in Christ and positioned in His righteousness. He did not live stressed but He faced abuse, He was overlooked, He wasn't appreciated, the religious crowd kept criticising Him and accusing Him of casting demons out by Beelzebub. He never got stressed - He stayed at peace - He is the Prince of Peace and Isaiah chapter 9 says; "Of the increase of the government of His peace there will be no end!". The Kingdom of heaven is righteousness in Christ, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!

How do I know someone is walking with God? The level of joy, peace, confidence, boldness, the amount that they are not consumed with themselves but they are Christ-concious and are aware that as He is so are they in this world! There is no condemnation, no guilt, no remorse on them, no regret on them, their past has gone and God turns their future into good - using bad experiences to make those bad experiences stepping stones to good steps into success. You are condemned to success, you are a victim of victory! There is an attitude that you and I need to have! I believe that my temparament is most vulnerable to depression. I am a melancholic, I am introspective, I am poetic and have natural highs and lows but I have not been depressed for 30 years because you see I have learnt the secret! That I am responsible to monitor my moods! No guru will do it for me! Even the Holy Spirit won't do it for me! No one can alter your moods, no one can make you angry! "That person makes me angry!".

You have given too much control to someone who can make you angry. They have become your boss and your lord. No one can make you angry!

You have control over your life! "Well I am waiting for the Holy Spirit to give me the power!". No no - you do not sit behind a power steering wheel and come in at a 180 to an S bend and say "I am waiting for the power to kick in on that power steering wheel!". No! You will be polyunsaturated margarine through!

The power kicks in when you take the sovereign thing that God has gifted you with called "free will" and with your free will you take the steering wheel and then the power kicks in! When I choose I am going to be happy and choose when I am going to live with joy! When I choose I am going to depend on my God and no one can make me happy and no one can ruin my life - I am the destiny of my life in Christ Jesus! I am not a victim of circumstances or a victim of other people's betrayals and criticisms and they are not my god - I don't put my faith in man! My faith is in God!

One of the worst things you can do is to be self-concious. The second worst thing you can do is put your faith in man. The United Nations is looking for the brotherhood of man in the absence of the Fatherhood of God. There is no brotherhood of man unless we have the Fatherhood of God. We do not put our faith in one another and we do not put our hope in man. Man will always disappoint you. No one can replace God - only God is eternal and unmoving and eternal permament grace, love and absolute solution to all of life. I would love to put all of my hope and trust in all of you. Don't do it to me! It is not fair. I am not God and I don't have the goods. I can't put my faith in you. It is not fair, you are not God! If I rely on you and you rely on me then we will have friction and problems. But if you and I rely on God and God gives me favour then He will put favour on me to want to love me and favour on you to want to support me and favour on you to support one another. Don't look to man for answers! Look to God and He will bring the answers through man - through a crow if He needs to as He did with Elijah or a donkey as He did with the prophet and Old Covenant and the answers through people but don't put your hope in your husband, wife, children or pastor or boss or nations - God is our hope and when God is our hope He manifests favour and energy and faith on people to support you and resource you and love you and be faithful and to stand with you. But no one is capacitated to replace God.

Trouble stress free living is possible! You can have trouble and stress all around you but inside here you can walk in peace. Is it the will of God? Absolutely. The book of Hebrews says "Labour" or "Strive" to enter His rest. Why do we do everything to enter into this rest? Because rest is your position of power in this earth. If you are not in a place of rest or peace then everything you sow and do will reap a harvest of corruption. The book of James says in James 3 that those who have God's peace sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness! Anything you sow out of agitation - any decision you make out of agitation or any decision you make out of irritation and out of frustration will cause you to sow a harvest you don't want. What you sow in peace has the victory of God all over it. What you sow in peace into your marriage and into your relationships - there are times when I want to sow something back to Glenda (and I know she feels the same) when I want to sow something back to her that isn't peace! Don't say it! Walk away and find peace and then say what I needed to say even though it is difficult and say it in peace. Many doctors are saying today that as much as 90% of diseases and sickness can be traced back to stress.

In a university they took two groups of pigs and they injected them with a substance that would cause immediate blockages in their arteries to induce heart attacks. One group of pigs began to die very quickly - in fact they all died! The other group of pigs - their arteries also blocked up but none of them died. So what they had done was subject the first group of pigs to a very intensely stressful environment. The other were subject to a very peaceful environment. So friends it is not what you eat but it is what is eating you! I have read many books on diets but the fear of saturated fats is overrated! There are many people dying of heart attacks with very little cholesterol in their arteries. I think the way you eat is important but 90% for the quality of your life and longevity.

We have people around the world and you can say it is genetics but look at how they live. They lived over 100 and eated saturated fats every day and smoked big cigars and drank a bottle of vodka! It is not what goes in but what is eating you! There are people writing books on how to eat and making millions of dollars - especially the Mediterrean diet. What they forget was that Jesus healed thousands of people of debilitating diseases who were all on the Mediterrean diet! It was Galilee and Jerusalem! They were eating olives and fish and yet they had every kind of disease. It is not what you eat but what is eating you. They took a bunch of monkeys and put them in cages and I don't agree with this - it is very cruel and I mean that. I hate these kind of experiments! But they subjected the cages to a violent electrical shock on the hour every hour for a couple of days and then took the monkeys out and found that the quality of their skin had deteriorated terribly, their blood vessels had been terribly conscricted and their kidneys were affected and when your kidneys go a whole lot of pollutants and toxins are released and they were extremely unhealthy.

I want to tell you that I believe the major killer on our planet is not HIV or mosquitos or malaria but stress that destroys the immune system and the psyche of the human being.

I could tell you all the things that I believe cause stress and I have read all the books and could list the priorities - losing a loved one or moving house are big ones. Children leaving one school and going to another, getting fired, pressure on marriage, relationships - but I want to tell you this and I really believe this. We are not pigs or monkeys. We have a will and we have choices to make and we are not victims.

The number one ultimate reason for living with stress and worry and anxiety in your life - and I got this revelation by worry and stress in my life and learning over years! - it is not lists that you get in books but it is simply this (and I say this tenderly and without judgement) stubborn, arrogant pride and a refusal to trust the awesomeness of God.

In man the reason he has to be dependent on God means he will lose his independence. And human beings because of satanic deception hate the idea of being dependent on God or anything! We want to be independent, self-made men! That is the number one cause of stress, worry and anxiety. We want to be king! And that is fine and not a problem! The Bible says in Revelation 5 that God has anointed us to be kings and priests unto our God! There isn't a priestly, clergy class! There isn't a priesthood and then the clergy! The Bible says in the New Covenant that everyone who says I believe in Christ is a royal priest! That is what Peter the apostle clearly teaches in 1st Peter! We are priests and kings Revelation 5 says! But Jesus is the King of Kings! So we can be kings reigning and ruling in life under the authority of the King of Kings! We partner with God and every part of our life is focused on what God wants for me. Not about what are the principles and laws here and the religious rules here! No - we are focused on the Presence of God and partnership with God and what is the purpose of God. Does He want me to stay here, to go there, is that His will? When you are in His will and things go wrong then you stay focused that God is bringing me through and I am trusting in my God to turn this around together for good! And I am not a victim of circumstances, I am not a pig or a monkey - I can respond with a will that can choose to depend on God!

Now how many think that Jesus had a lot to say about worry? If stress is the number 1 killer then our Lord and our King would have a lot to teach about worry and anxiety. So have you got Matthew 6? You may as well enjoy this message! Really enjoy it! You are allowed to get up and walk out and that won't offend me - but if you chose to stay then chose to enjoy this and get something out of this! Respond! Shout! Do something! The number one cause of stress is a stubborn pride and a refusal to depend on God. We will depend on men occasionaly when it is really getting bad but to depend on God?! Let's read what Jesus says about worry and stress! Matthew 6:24. I get comforted by just hearing Jesus say these words!

And Father I pray that as I read these words - the Holy Spirit will speak them into every person's heart in this room and address us with supernatural grace and wisdom that will help us live stress-free work and lives in Jesus Name!

(v24); "No one can serve 2 masters - either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you - do not worry about your life or what you will eat or drink or about your body and what you will wear". This is the key phrase that I am going to comment on in a moment; "Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air - they do not sow or reap or store away in barns - yet your heavenly Father feeds them! Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow - they do not labour". The Greek there is; "Hard, harsh labour". "Or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you - oh you of little faith?". Isn't it good that Jesus says God will clothe us even when we have got little faith?! Thank God He didn't say only those with big faith! "So do not worry saying, 'What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink or wear? For the pagans run after all these these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!". He is a good Parent! He knows that you need those things! (v33); "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself - each day has enough trouble of it's own".

So here Jesus gives the absolute answer to the issue of stress and worry that has absolutely saturated modern-society today. Seek first the Kingdom! And His righteousness and all these things the pagans run after and seek will run after you. Clothing, food and blessings will run after you! So unless Jesus was lying and was a charlatan and maybe He was confused like Napoleoan or lying - but! If He was telling the truth then if you don't seek first the Kingdom can you have a stress-free life? You can if Jesus was lying! But looking at the world with empirical evidence and taking an overview of society today then I would say no - if you don't seek first then Kingdom then you cannot live a stress-free life. I will tell you why in a moment! If you don't seek first the Kingdom and are seeking Him when it is convinient and really you are not putting the kingdom of Jesus first then I have to say to you with all love and compassion that you cannot qualify to live a stress-free life. You will live a life with some happiness and moments of joy but most of it will be characterised by stress, unhappiness, depression and self-conciousness. So psychiatrists can't help you - they will help you manage some principles and ideas and philosophic insights but Jesus gave the best truth above any guru or psychiatrist. "Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you".

Now "His righteousness" is not you "behaving righteously". It is not you earning or being good enough in your righteousness! It is the righteousness that He gave you as a gift! Right standing with God!

What is the Kingdom that we need to seek first? What is the Kingdom of God? Jesus said; "Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven". What is heaven like? Are angels going to psychiatrists for nervous breakdowns? Is Jesus having to have a break because He had a burn-out as our great High Priest interceding for us? No! Heaven is a place of undiluted glory, absolute serenity, tranquility and perfect peace! So why does Jesus say; "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"? What is it to seek first the Kingdom? What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is the government of God's peace. It is the supernatural authority of a living God who created the heavens and the earth who says; "Seek first My Kingdom! It is the answer to all stressful living, worry and anxiety! If you do not want to seek first My kingdom then there is nothing I can do except send My Spirit into the earth and pull on your heart and conscience until one day you will get free from that stubborn pride and learn dependance on Me and seek My Kingdom first! Until that day - enjoy your pride and enjoy your stubbornness but you will just live eating food and passing it through your body and growing old and leaving no footprints of destiny in human history! Or you can be a Kingdom man or woman - putting the Kingdom first! And seeking the government of God's peace and the rule of God which is a gracious kind and loving rule!".

Let me put it this way - because of first Adam's fall which people call "original sin" - first Adam rebelling against God - this earth has temporarily been overrun by a counterfeit, illegitimate, illegal kingdom called the demonic. It is a satanic deception and the Bible says Satan is the god of this world and this time and this season. It is a temporary overrunning of the planet through first Adam's disobedience. So what is ruling in the philosophies and ideologies of political systems around the world but demonic lies and a lying fantasy and a corrupt wisdom of people pursuing priorities that will only lead to pain for all of their life! It is a pseudo-kingdom that is illegitimate and Jesus defeated it at the Cross and when He rose from the dead He said "ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me now go and preach the Kingdom to all nations".

So by the end of the age the Kingdom will have broken through and it is increasing throughout the earth - the government of His peace!

You get a gift of righteousness so that God sees you as perfect all the time when you walk by faith!

In a casual reading of Matthew 6 you could think that Jesus was saying to us and that all He is interested in is making sure that we will have clothes and we will have food. Nothing could be further from the truth. This thing is not about food or clothes. How pathetic to reduce the wonder of eternal grace and everlasting Kingdom - we are here for a short time on earth and will one day have resurrection bodies that will be immortal and live in Christ for eternity or we will spend it outside of the kingdom lost for all eternity. What a thing to think all He is talking about is just food and clothes! He is guaranteeing in Matthew 6 that food and clothing is a given - it is the Father's will to give you food and clothing! He wants to give you lots of food and the best food, wine and clothes! That is the Father for us! Extravagant abundance! That is His will! But is not the priority here! There is a much more gracious loving important priority here! The real priority is this; "Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?". In other words He is saying that the quality of your life - a stress-free, happy, peaceful, rested, serene, tranquil life is more important than food! And your body is more important than clothes! He is saying He will give you clothes but your health is more important than having the right name brands!

I was at the airport last night waiting to pick up Bonnie and was looking for a shirt to wear today and couldn't find one and she said "Don't get that one - it's got the label on it and everyone will know it is cheap!". I said "I couldn't care less! If it fits me and suits me I am wearing it!". But if I can afford a $50,000 suit then I will wear that too! I believe my Father wants to dress me in the best robes! But the body is more important than clothes! Hear this - it is no use wearing the most expensive clothes if the body inside is so diseased and run down by nervous anxiety and stress. He wants us to have a quality of life that is stress free and physical bodies that are healthy and not broken down by worry! It is an amazing thing in our information age that we think that there is something clever in our corrupted wisdom to half kill ourselves to earn enough money to buy a life that is stress-free! You cannot buy a stress-free life with all the money in the world! It will come by seeking the kingdom and government of God first and breaking out of a corrupted illegitimate satanic illegal government that has temporarily overrun the world affecting politics, economics and education and the way that people think. They don't think - they think humanistic and secular survival pride and arrogance against God. So they don't want to seek the kingdom first but a religion that is like a social club so they can pop into church on Sunday and have a happy little meeting that lasts only an hour because we don't want more than an hour because we have got more important things to do out there.

No! We need to be equipped to seek the Kingdom because if you want to live a stress free happy peaceful life in marriage and if you want your marriage to go like ours and longer or blessing on children then you need to seek the Kingdom first! This isn't for pastors! I am not a pastor! I am a Christian and a son of God! I never see myself as a pastor! I am one but I have never thought of myself like that! I am just a man that likes to surf and have fun and go to movies! But something in me seeks the Kingdom! He says; "The birds of the air don't sow or reap but your Father cares for them! Aren't you much more valuable than birds!?". I want to turn to someone and say "You are much more valuable than birds bird-brain!". Jesus is speaking to an agricultural/fishing society and they understand sowing and reaping and sowing up in barns! So they knew the process - you sow and clear the field and plough and sow the seed and water and pull the weeds and finally a harvest and then you reap the harvest and put it into your barns and wait for buyers! He isn't saying that we have to sit at home and wait and we won't need banks or that - what He is saying is that birds know better than us that we don't need to work in a pseudo-illegitimate economic system that is based on the fall of Adam and the curse of the earth. We can seek the Kingdom and find in the Kingdom that our sowing and our reaping and our storing in barns will happen with the acceleration of kingdom economics so there are many people that understand what I am preaching today who work LESS and are paid MORE!

They enjoy what they are doing! I am very concerned about people who come to church and say they are interested in church unity but are not interested in theology! If you don't have theology - then you are an idiot! You are! Jesus said in John 8; "My followers who follow whether they feel like it or not ...". We need to know we are not on a religious addiction to a hormonal religious high. We are not addicted to experiences! We are servants and sons and daughters of the most high God! The King of Kings and we are in partnership to release the advancement of the Kingdom of God to invade this earth as it is in heaven and to come into this earth and topple evil influences, illegitimate governments that are bringing stress and cancer and blindness and crippled disease on mankind and the church is sitting on little assurances on it's blessed behind and to hell with the world and we will live our lives for ourselves! No! We are kings! Under the King of Kings in partnership to reign and rule with the King of the Kingdom which is first in our lives before our wives, children and job! The Kingdom is first! I will chose the Kingdom before my career as a pastor!

If I am in any pressure in any group of people to surrender the Kingdom first to preach a palatable message that is more acceptable to secular, humanistic modern man then I will resign my position and keep the Kingdom first! I will go without my salary! But I will live on the economics of the Kingdom because that is the way to keep a good marriage and good family, health and run up mountains and be strong because there is a way to live in the freedom of the kingdom of God - by putting it first!

Don't ask the question why we don't see more miracles! Don't ask the question why we don't see more results! Ask the question are we seeking first the Kingdom - in integrity! Until you and whole congregations seek the Kingdom and His righteousness in integrity - and let's not bluff and say we are seeking it first unless we really are! When we really are THEN the Kingdom breaks in!

When first Adam was walking with God in the glory and hearing the voice of God before original sin - God came to first Adam and said "I will bless your work" and God gave Adam a work assignment. In the earth! He gave Adam authority and dominion in the earth! And He gave Him work and it actually uses the word "work" in the book of Genesis! Adam was given work by God before the Fall! So work is not a curse - it is the blessing of God. But when Adam fell and turned in rebellion against God and sought himself first not God then the Bible says that the earth was subject to frustration and God said to Adam, "You will work by the sweat of your brow" and that is stressful work! That is the way that people labour under the dominion of Satan today. They are stressed out and they are working hard and they have big holes in their pockets. They earn a lot but it just seems to fall away to pay for this arrangement or that arrangement - and they are working by the sweat of their brow not by the transcendance of God's Kingdom but their own wisdom.

God says in the Bible that in Christ we are redeemed from the curse that came on the earth through first Adam and we are the new creation in Christ Jesus. You and I are part of the new creation order in the earth! We are part of a Kingdom people citizens not of earth but of heaven and we are all going to be there in Christ maybe very soon! The longest here maybe 30-40 years. But some of us will be there sooner! Not me - I am going last and living till Jesus comes again.

What do birds do most of the time? They sing! But I thank God that I have the privilidge of living in Hong Kong and being woken up by birds. I would rather have that than not hear any birds. In those moments when all the stress is off you and you don't need the valium or substitutes to calm you down and all that stress has gone - what is the first thing you do? Sing! You don't try to sing to get rid of the stress! If the stress goes then you sing!

I am not saying stay at home and sing and don't go to work! I believe we have to go and sow and reap and have banking but there is a heart that sings on the way to work! There is a seeking the Kingdom first! I am not a product of an evolutionary random chance but I am the design of a creator that loved me and put His signature in my soul and made me in His image and put eternity in my heart with a purpose not to eat food, pass it through my body, make money and pay off some building and then die!

He made me to change history and He made you to change history! We are called to affect the politics, economics, medical, educational world of Hong Kong and we are called to affect it with kingdom life!

As you start seeking the kingdom first and go to work start singing! As you go to work start singing! Don't sing the sad country and western songs! Try and keep away from melancholic songs! Sing like a bird! If you don't believe Jesus or you - let me encourage you how to worry better. Go to a worry seminar and train and learn from people who have got nervous breakdowns and stress in their expensive clothing and write expensive books! Go to Jesus! He really knows what He is talking about! Seek first the Kingdom! He says you can worry as much as you like but it won't make you grow! Look at the lilies! They don't toil and spin! Even Solomon in all his splendour was not dressed like one of these! Jesus!? Are you saying that the lilys of the field are greater than Solomon, the king of Israel and the king of wisdom!? Lilys have got greater wisdom that Solomon?! And Jesus will say to you "Yes". But God didn't you clothe Solomon?! No only some. The second half of Solomon's life was a disaster - it was a tragedy. He walked away from God and got independent and proud. The first half of his life - God came to him and said what do you want - wealth or long life or fame? Solomon said; "No - I want wisdom from You God". He got wisdom from God that gave Him such governmental legitimacy to rule Israel as a great king and Israel prospered under his rule!

But in the second half he walked away from God and walked away from putting His Kingdom first and it was an absolute mess in his life! He lived in a sick body with wealthy clothes and he had piles of gold and silver but was a broken and destroyed man. In the first half the Queen of Sheba came up for an interview with Solomon and asked him questions about his creativity and his kingdom because he lived with the kingdom first and God's kingdom and the Bible said that he answered with such wisdom that she gave him 120 talents of gold. 120. That is the number of God! That is millions! Billions! How many priests were in the Upper Room in Chronicles in Solomon's tabernacle when the glory fell? 120. 1000 years later when the glory fell how many were in the Upper Room? 120. How many talents of gold did she give Solomon? 120. In the 2nd half of his life he began to get harsh and walked away from God and didn't seek God on a daily basis and began to tax the people that were so far and above and rebelled against God and the Bible says that the talents came to 666 talents of gold every year. 666. The mark of the beast - the number of man's idea that man is the measure of all things. And we have the strength without God to do things and build towers and go to the moon.

Solomon started off with kingdom and ended terribly. So Jesus says look at the lilys! If these things here today and gone tomorrow get God's attention how much more you who are made in the image of God. He cares about you and wants you to work in the economics of His kingdom and put Him first and on your way to work be singing! Sometimes we think we know what is causing our stress and making us agitated! How many sometimes feel stressed and don't know why? Sometimes just an agitation - a stress and we think there is a reason! But I hope I can convince you today to not rely on a guru but on God and on a regular daily basis spend enough time in God's Presence to identify any areas of stress and see what's causing it. I can have something stressing me and think I know the cause of it and as I pray and wait on God an inward impression and an idea comes and I see that is the reason for that stress and can immediately say "okay! I deal with that and break that in Jesus Name!". Demonic presence manifests with agitation and stress and lying fantasies and overwhelming feelings that it is too big! That is a demonic presence! And that is why the apostle says; "Be alert, be vigilent, your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion" and the very next verse says "Casting all your cares on the Lord who cares for you".

Why does he connect the devil prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour to you taking the responsibility to cast your cares on Him who cares for you? Because Satan can't mess your life up at all unless he can insinuate thoughts into your mind of lying fantasies and feelings of being overwhelmed and lies about people and thoughts. Until you are in the Holy Spirit and pick up what is causing you to be stressed and then you can cast this onto Him and cast this and belly laugh by faith and rebuke the devil and sing like the birds!

I am trusting God that everyone will get some change that will so bless you and your family but more than that - others will see your life and say "Give me the answer!". If people are stressed, sulking and depressed and wanting to suck all the energy out of you - Jesus didn't allow that! You can say that is harsh and He wasn't. But the first time someone comes to you and says "I am stressed" you need to listen to them with such open ears and don't interupt and honour and care but the greatest show of love you can give someone is to stop talking and listen to them! When they have finished talking about their problems then you are going to have to say as a royal priest of God who is putting the kingdom first; "Okay I have the answers for you and they are not cliches and I am not insensative or glib but unless you seek the kingdom first then there is nothing that can help you. You will have to help yourself and it doesn't look like your self-help has gone very far". Somewhere you must realise my self-help principles are not working! And you must say; "I love you and God loves you but if you do not put His Kingdom first then He cannot help you while you are living under that pseudo-illegitimate false king called the devil". They say they try and go away and come back and say it didn't work and go away and try again and on the third or fourth try you begin to realise that they don't want HELP they just want SYMPATHY. And then they become a plot of the enemy to phone you just as your husband and wife are about to have a romantic dinner!

Do people a favour - don't dump your sulking on people over the phone! Say I am feeling a bit down and know you need to seek the Kingdom first and say you are phoning just for some advice - don't keep phoning just to get sympathy! Sympathy is like a nice warm bath and it gets cold after a while and it doesn't help you! I want to keep the bath warm all the time and know how to equip people to deal with depression, heartache, problems not by psych-analytical problems but a King who cares for every area of your life!

After someone has phoned you the seventh or eighth time you are going to have to say "Listen I cannot listen to all this again - I have heard it eight times! I am asking you - are you putting the kingdom first?". "No it doesn't work! It isn't working!". "Well Jesus was a liar then and I am deceived because I am happy and stress-free and you know it doesn't work so I am deceived and Jesus was a liar". Well it is easy for you to say because you get a good deal with a great wife and it is easy for you!". The trouble with that argument is that there is always someone in a worse situation than us who is happy! So the argument that you have a better deal is rubbish! You are not a monkey or a pig and you can make a choice and keep seeking until the feelings kick in and you are not a victim! You turn the steering wheel and then the power kicks in! Even though hell and rejection comes at me every day I make a choice! I will lead year after year with faith and enthusiasm but I will never be a person that sulks year after year! I will live for His honour! Two prisoners look out of the same prison and one looked out and saw mud and the other saw stars!

God authorised 12 men to spy on the Promised Land and come back and give a positive report. 10 came back and saw giants. 2 came back and saw grapes! The 10 died on the same day. The 2 waited for 40 years to lead a new generation into the Promised Land! I am going to be a Jacob or a Caleb and lead a generation of young people to their destiny! And any older person above 40 like me has a choice to become a grumpy old person who gets worse as you get old or seek the Kingdom first or set a model for young people so that when they get to 50 and 60 they are not going to be cynical and skeptical but get bold and confident that your life has purpose! The spies all saw the giants and the grapes! 2 decided what they would focus on! All 12 were spies! And they were married to Spice Girls! I am talking about eternal things here and time is going by! What is the legacy we are leaving and what awards await us in heaven? Are you serious about putting the kingdom first knowing that eternity is waiting with awards and the praises of a God for a people that chose the kingdom first and didn't give in to an easy route! The way of the kingdom is the easiest route! In that pain and troubles you have a peace that surpasses all understanding! You are walking with God every day! You can walk with a conciousness of God every day! You can pray early or late - no legalism! No have-tos! But just to spend time in the Presence of a living God who's burden is easy and His yoke is light..

God wants a people so strong that we build strong local congregations! We are building a community that incarnate an eternal truth called grace and called to be a model to every nation around the world! We will touch millions of lives and if we don't do it then others will come! We must break out - and be honest and ask "Help Me to put the Kingdom first!". Ask for help! Be honest! But if it is all self-pity then you are draining resources that could be deployed elsewhere! I am going to finish my race with my chest held high and we will never give up!"

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Pioneers in the Miraculous

This is Rob Rufus's message from City Church International in Hong Kong on Sunday 10th May 2009. It is not quite a classic sermon but there are some essential elements vital to anyone interested in the grace revolution. He starts off by movingly sharing about a member of their congregation who died prematurely and the church's reaction to that - and also about their efforts to raise him from the dead. Then he shares some testimonies from "Grace and Glory 2009" and the resulting impact around the world. Finally he shares some thoughts before closing. Here it is;

One of the keys to longevity in the kingdom - and by longevity I mean not how long you have been a Christian or have been a Christian but I mean freedom from bitterness, freedom from cynicism, skepticism, freedom from unbelief, freedom from fear, suspicion, conservatism, formalism. That year after year and decade after decade you keep a fresh childlike, virgin-like innocence of wonder and amazement at how great our God is. How many of you want to know the secret of that?! How many of you have met thousands of Christians year after year that every time you see them they are full of joy, gone through hell and back and have come through betrayals, disappointments, sad times, death of loved ones and rejection and abuse - yet they still have a twinkle in their eye. You see a love for Jesus there that is so childlike and so sweet and attractive. It is like a perfume comes out of their being. How many of you meet Christians like that? Every single day of your life! Praise God - we have got a church full of people like that! Why is it that there are Christians in the world that you want to avoid if you see them on the other side of the street you would rather go into the pub and sit with the real sinners. Sinners are just talking about rugby and they are really happy and their team won the cricket! They are just pragmatically determined to be happy.

You meet Christians today that sadly look like survivors of some devastating storm and like they have been pulled backwards through the exhaust pipe of a motorcar and have been baptised in lemon juice and they think that is holy! And they are "enduring for the Lord"! The Christian life should not just be characterised by discipline. It should be characterised by a great delight in our God!

When I was an atheist under the delusion of atheism for a short period of my life I began to seek the reality of a living God. I never grew up in a religious home and I looked not for God first but people that claimed they knew God and they worshipped and walked with this God and they believed in this God. I looked at Muslims and I looked at Hinduis and Buddhists and Christians.

I am sad to say that I looked for the reflection of the representation or the expression of the image of God in the people that claimed they knew God. And instead of becoming a Christian I became a Hindui. I saw more joy and more devotion in Hare Krishna people and that is why I was a serious follower of Krishna. I was totally deceived and in darkness and committed to that.

The world is not as intellectual as we think we are. There are people out there that think they are so brilliant and so philosophically together but people don't actually go with their intellectual conclusions - they go more by gut feel and intituion and emotions and by seeing "something" in people. The greatest witness of us is not just signs, wonders and miracles - although I want to talk about that today. It is very important! It is about our disposition - and a consistent attitude of credibility that continues. It is easy to be happy after a great conference. It is easy to be happy after you have just been healed miraculously or after God has just given you a couple of hundred, thousand dollars! It is so easy when your wife is making tea for you in the morning every morning!

Glenda found it easy because I made her tea every single morning on holiday. Thank you ladies - that was your chance to clap! It is easy to be happy when these things are happening. What worries me is that some Christians don't get passionately caught up in God - they get addicted to the sensation of feeling experientially happy. That is not the Kingdom of heaven! We are not to be addicted to a hormonal high. We are not to feel that God has left us when our hormonal high has left us! Do not reduce God to a hormone! Do not reduce God to a happy feeling! God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and the living God! The creator! The One that will sum up all of history at the climax and consummation of the ages in His Son Jesus Christ and every false god will be exposed in that day! God will deal with everything that is false and sum up history by the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That is what keeps us on line and consistent year after year, decade after decade with a good attitude that I am in this to serve and to sweat and to give myself and invest myself to make a change in human history!

I will take all the happy feelings, all the goosebumps, all the joy and all the blessings because I want as much as I can! How many of you want to know the secret to consistent living with a good attitude? I promise you this - it is not going to inner healing classes or going to introspective psychology with a few Scriptures attached to it but is more secular humanistic that sounds kingdom theology. It is not going to all these courses. They have their place and I am not against them - just keep them in their right context!

The way to stay free and liberated and growing in passion year after year - overcoming disappointments year after - is not trying to love God. That is Old Covenant. "You shall love Me!". God said to Israel; "I want you to love Me with all your heart - but you won't". He said in Deuteronomy; "I will make a New Covenant and I will circumcise your hearts and you will love Me". The New Covenant says; "We love Him because He first loved us".

So these Christians that are trying to love God - Peter saying; "I will follow You anywhere Jesus! I will do whatever You say! Others will abandon You but I will come to prison with You! ... Jesus? Not quite sure who you are talking about - never heard that Name!".

The one that knew Jesus loved Him was the one at the foot of the Cross. He was the one that pushed through. All the threats and all the dangers - because it is not about trying to love God. The more you try and love God, the more the devil will remind you how you don't love Him enough. You are not good enough - you don't have enough passion for God!

You will never generate passion for God by trying to generate passion for God!

Passion for God is a fruit - a response - a result to something else! It is a response to the glory of the New Covenant that He loves you unconditionally and He sees you blameless without accusation and you are the righteousness of God permamently and none of your sins can dilute your righteousness because your righteousness is not based on your obedience - your holiness or your performance but on the obedience of the One Man - Jesus Christ! You are always righteous no matter how many mess-ups or mistakes you make! You stand up and say "I thank You that I am the righteousness of God and you have no accusation, condemnation and I am blameless in Your sight because of Jesus Christ! You love me!".

If you don't see it that way then everytime you mess up and make a mistake then some Christian or the devil will come to you (sometimes they are close because religious people operate by religious demon spirits and speak by demonic powers) and they will speak and say "Look how you messed up your marriage and this and that and your children and you are obviously not committed to God enough. You obviously are not committed enough! Love Him more! What's wrong with you!?". That is curse and is Old Covenant! It is knowing He loves you perfectly in height and depth and length and breadth - the perfect cube. The height is not shorter than the length and the breadth is not longer than the depth. On every dimension of the perfect cube God's full love is unconditionally, irreversibly, always towards you and never ever going to change! He is not counting your sins against you and there is absolutely no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus! When that lives in you you can love Him with no remorse and no regrets and no sense of "if only I could put the clock back" - no! He turns all things together for the good to those who love Him and are called together according to His purpose.

You are condemned to success, a victim of victory and what the enemy meant for evil - God means for your good! There is nothing in all creation that can seperate you and me from the love of God in Christ Jesus!

We need to shout this gospel from the rooftops and tell the church and tell the world that it is a new day and a new covenant! It is amazing how if you are out of the orbit of the Word of God or the Spirit's movings you will gravitate to your default settings if you are not fully equipped in righteousness as a gift and go back to trying to earn God's favour. Trying to be good enough! In this economic downturn people who have been saying; "If you tithe enough then God will keep the windows of heaven open and then you will be blessed" - Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law and He opened the heavens permamently over us in Christ Jesus! So we tithe! I tithe all the time with everything I get not because of law but because I am a partner with El-Shaddi! I am walking with God! I am investing financially with God into eternity.

I don't tithe to get the windows of heaven open - I tithe because they are open! I don't tithe to get blessed. I tithe because I AM blessed through grace!

People who have been preaching law to release finances are struggling during this economic downturn and that makes me wonder about that theology! People that say God is blessing us through Abraham's blessing and through the redemption from the curse of the law - He blesses us with blessings because of faith in the goodness of God and the finished work of the Cross and they are prospering in the economic downturn! Their finances are breaking through!

We had a phenomenal holiday - probably one of the best we have had in many years. I won't tell you everything because you will be jealous. It felt like God had conspired and got a whole lot of angels on assignment to make this holiday work for us. We are so grateful to God - thank you to those that prayed for us while we were away. Holidays are very important - you should take them as often as you can! So we are grateful for that. I just want to say that I listened to all three of the messages of Ryan and Steve and no flattery here - this is integrity. Top quality stuff. It was superb ministry of the Word of God. Not bubble and froth but superb quality and content of revelation of the Word of God.

If you missed those messages I strongly encourage you to go get them and download them freely off our website. I will not miss a message while I am away because every sequence is a stage to the next unfolding sequence that we are being sequenced towards higher levels of release and liberty and glory. If you have been in this church a few years and you have missed dozens of messages or only come in lately - go back and listen to all the files and catch up on the revelation! I really mean that! There are people around the world doing that and we should be doing that! I asked Ryan to continue in that teaching on what is holiness and it is a departure from the traditional religious teaching of holiness and the New Covenant revelation of holiness because I thought that was a classic message last week and a classic insight. I wish we could release him to fly around the world and preach it across the world. I believe he will one day. He isn't preaching today though. Ryan will pick that up some other time and I will pick something else up today.

Now as I said at the beginning of this meeting we lost a son from this house who went to be with the Father some time Saturday morning. He came to Christ in our home and some of you were there when we baptised him in our back garden and I spent many hours having coffee with Ian through the many challenges and issues he faced for his three years as a Christian. He died in his sleep and we think it was a heart attack - we are not sure. Steve and Ryan and myself went around to Ian's home where he was still in bed - his body was there. He was with the Lord but his body was with the Lord.

He had been gone for a few hours by the time we got there and we thought we would give it a go. We would pray his spirit back into his body and command his spirit and life to come and death to go. We gave it an hour and a half standing over his body, laying hands on him and holding his face and praying for him. The glory of God was in that room and the Presence was there and just an amazing sense of God's peace actually. I am not making excuses now - I am going to go for raising the dead at every opportunity! People say "Have you raised the dead?". Well I haven't prayed for any dead people. Well then you are never going to raise the dead! You have just got to have a go. I am going to pray for every blind eye and deaf ear - I don't care! I am just going to do it and not be afraid of failure! Just go for it!

Everything is open target! All the way through - all I could think of was every service Ian would come to and he wouldn't miss, he would come up the front at the end of the service and say "Lay hands on me" and me or the ministry team do it. He just wanted to feel the Presence of God. He so longed - he would come under that Presence and be laid out on the floor and be there for hours shaking and enjoying God's Presence and His glory and he would always ask me; "Rob - how can I experience God's Presence more often? When I am in His Presence I always feel perfect peace and feel so precious in the love of God! An hour or so after the service life returns to normal and I feel torment and trauma and pain and if I could just stay in His Presence!".

So we tried to pull him back from that Presence! I could hear Ian arguing with the Lord saying; "I love my mum, I love City Church International but I don't want to go back!".

Afterwards when they came to collect Ian's mortal remains and we asked them to wait ten more minutes and we kept trying upto the last moment and afterwards speaking to Ryan, he said "Dad you know the whole time I felt like Ian was saying to the Lord, I don't want to go back!". I am saddened that a brother in Christ never finished his calling as we understand it. In the economy of God Ian will fulfill his calling embodied in us. God will use certain things to make sure the legacy of Ian continues through the earth. Even as I am speaking this will go to tens of thousands around the world. Ian! Pam is just a hero - a warrior of faith. She was in that room praying for his resurrection. There was no hysteria in her voice, no anguish in her voice, no sense of "This isn't fair!". It was just good theology, good revelation on the nature of God. That God is not a thief and He didn't take her son. Afterwards I was speaking to her and she said; "I wanted Ian to live - I wanted his resurrection but I told the Lord - not because I love him and he is my son. Because I do love him and will miss him terribly. But I just wanted him to finish his purpose". I said; "Pam - Ian's purpose will be fulfilled!".

And she said; "Yes! We will get redemptive revenge and we will see people raised from the dead and we will see people impacted by this gospel!". This is a mother now! We want to salute you Pam for being the woman of God that you are.

This will be a very key Thursday night in our home - the prayer meeting. God is laying things on our heart as a church that we are going to push further into and we want to pray and intercede and petition God this Thursday. I know Glenda has already welcomed Will and John but I want to do so again. We are privilidged to be having lunch with them straight after the service. What I am very excited about is that Andrew Wommack is hoping to come and minister into Hong Kong in October next year and so we will talk about the possibility of him coming to our church!

He is just a key cutting edge ministry in the earth today - I believe heading up this whole revelation of the grace revolution that is speeding up across our planet!

I wanted to look at the Benjamin generation but I don't feel we are ready for it yet and I wanted to look at Revelation through the finished work of the Cross because the last bastion of those that are judgemental and believe God hates the world and wants to kill everyone - their last bastion is a heretical interpretation of the book of Revelation. So I want to look at what the seven seals and the seven trumpets are and see what the book of Revelation is saying in the light of the Cross!

I also want to do a series on the Great High Priest - which is an awesome revelation - the typology and looking at Christ's fulfillment in the heavenly tabernacle and your heart will expand with the wonder of how secure we are in Christ.

Today I just want to talk about "We are God's workmanship" - a very simple message I prepared last night. I want to read to you a few emails and came back from holiday and had a pile of hundreds of emails. Most of them wonderful testimonies of what God is doing around the world off our website and as a result of people who went back from our "Glory and Grace conference" in March and some of the impact there. I don't know if you remember a couple from Sri Lanka that lead a church and planted a church in Colombo. A trendy Sri Lankan guy and we had lunch with them. But Joshua Mills went up to them and prophesied and when he did the oil started flowing straight away out of his hands. They had such an encounter with God and had such revelation of grace while they were at the conference - so this is what they wrote;

"Dear Rob and Glenda, hope you remember us - Kirby and Fiona from Sri Lanka. We attended the Glory and Grace Conference 2009 and have been back now over a month. It has been an amazing time of revelation and progress in the glory realm. All thanks to amazing grace! We have noticed a definite increase in the signs, wonders and miracles at our works of wonder meetings. We know this is because of the Christ mantle and impartation we have received at Glory and Grace 09 in Hong Kong. The grace teaching has profoundly impacted the ministry and we are soaking in your archives online every week for more. We hope to return next year to the Hong Kong conference. We can't begin to thank you enough and convey how your teachings have impacted our lives. We are so excited to be alive in these times when the Father is shedding more and more light on this beautiful thing called grace. This is good news! And we will preach it! It is everything we hoped for! Everything we longed for! Everything we live for! Jesus is the best! Love and blessings to you and yours - Kirby and Fiona".

"Some testimonies over this last month since coming back from the conference. 27th March - a man paralysed after four years after a stroke, could not talk, walk or lift his hands. After coming to their meeting, he walked, raised hands and praised Jesus as well as shocking himself when he replied out loud and clear; "I can't talk!" only to hear himself do it!".

It is so good to applaud these things because we are celebrating the acts of grace! When you can applaud what God does in other places, I believe He turns up more in your place! We have been like that boat - when the crowds were pressing onto Jesus and He asked the guys to lend Him the boat and He preached from the boat to the multitudes so He wouldn't be crushed. When He had finished preaching to the multitude He said to the guys; "Launch out into the deep". They caught a big catch! We have been like that boat that Jesus was leant - serving churches around the world through our website, through Glory and Grace conferences and worship that flows from here. I believe as we have activated miracles in many different nations from this little church in Hong Kong - God is positioning us for a great increase of miracles here in Hong Kong.

"There was an old woman who has blind and received her sight!".

The blind see and the lame walk - sounds like the gospel! It doesn't sound like church or religion - it sounds like kingdom! The gospel! A lady had a kidney stone healed instantly and many more amounting to about 50 healings.

"Then in Sri Lanka on the 3rd April a lady 90% blind and squint - a Buddhist came only for healing and stubbornly stated "Not to get converted". Was very negative and in a bad mood on arrival. She only came because a friend brought her. She received her sight much to her surprise! She could not help but praise and thank Jesus for what He has done! A young girl around 10 could not read without glasses and received her healing and read texts from a small print Bible without the aid of spectacles. Other miracles as well as the manifestation of oil from hands and have had oil appear in their hands as well as heat. Hands get so hot and when placed on someone else, it actually feels unusually hot and on occasion this happens and we touch others they get very high!!!!".

Now I don't know why God does this oil and different heat and things but if it is God then I am happy! Then this family - the Lewis's;

"Dear Rob and Glenda and everyone at City Church International. We live in Guernsey - Channel Islands - just off the coast of France. We started downloading your messages at the beginning of 2008. Our lives have been truly transformed. Up until that point we thought we had a good understanding of grace but in hindsight we knew we were not under the law but only knew a minute amount about grace".

That is the problem you see - many Christians know we are not under law but don't really know or understand what that means and really live as those under the law. They really don't understand grace because they haven't heard the law properly preached or heard the grace of God properly preached.

If you preach the law properly - it means cut your hands off, pluck your eyes out when you sin. It means take your children out and stone them if they keep on disobeying. It means stone people who break the law. It means fly into buildings in 9/11. That is consistent with the law. It means stand outside abortion clinics and shoot people. That is the law! It is a ministry of death! You cannot water it down to try and behave well. It means kill people if they don't behave well!

People say we preach an extreme grace message - it is because they have never heard the law in all it's true spirituality.

To look at someone with lust in your eyes and your heart - you have committed adultery and you should be stoned. Literal adultery! If you hate someone without cause then you have murdered them! That is the true spirituality of the law!

They have heard a compromised watered down and diluted law. That is why they can mix this compromise law with a compromised grace and mix them together. If you preach the extremes of grace - that is no more extreme than the law! Everyone with a brain will know you cannot mix them together ever again! As extreme as law is - grace is a scandal! It is so wonderful and complete!

"In hindsight we knew we were not under law but only knew a minute amount about grace. For years we had remained on the fringe of church life as we could see the horrific effects of control. It was clear that this was not the way church was supposed to be but we couldn't see how the church could be transformed into a glorious Bride. Now our eyes have been opened, the veil has been lifted and so much truth has been revealed and our lives have been turned upside down. The Bible has come alive! We are learning new things every day! We listen to your messages every week and we are also so grateful for the worship you put on the website. Your church has blessed and inspired us and we are so grateful for your continuing input into our lives. It was an enormous privilidge to come to Glory and Grace in 2009".

I didn't even meet them.

"We have been meeting with two other like-minded couples and arranged an evening of Glory and Grace on our return from Hong Kong. We invited several other people who we knew were also listening to your talks and hungry for more of God. It was a great evening of impartation. To our great relief God turned up and it was simply awesome! As a result a few fragmented people have become a solid group meeting to worship, encourage others and to see that we are equipped to fulfill our destiny. We are looking forward to our first supernatural treasure hunt this Saturday. People in our church have noticed that something has happened to us especially since Glory and Grace and we have had such fire inside of us and such boldness that we are having an amazing time telling people how the good news is really GOOD news! Last week we were invited to speak at a small group and we shared our testimony and spoke about our identity in Jesus and they are keen for us to go back and tell them more. We are so keen to see more and more people set free from religion and know that Jesus will build His church here. Thanks again for all that you have imparted to us. Looking forward to the next Glory and Grace. With love Jeremy and Ann".

How many of you think we should have another Glory and Grace next year?! I have got so many testimonies here - from Thailand and it is deeply Buddhist but God is breaking out. This couple came from Thailand and I want to read what they said about you - CCI! They said;

"What has impressed us very much about City Church is the absence of pretense and religious masks among the people of City Church. The Lord shall make you reflect His matchless glory and Presence in increasing measure!".

When we were away on holiday I just felt like God was saying that He wants to change up a gear and release us into another realm of supernatural miracles, healings, signs and wonders and people being healed through us. Not just through the ministry team but ALL of us. There are no superstars or gurus here and that is the truth! I am on a journey as much as you are.

When I was at Glory and Grace and I saw how Joshua Mills moved, I had lunch with him and I said; "Teach me Joshua!". I am twenty something years older than him but I want to learn from him! I want to learn! I want to remain a novice!

You are not a novice when you are raising the dead regularly and seeing many blind eyes open and many cripples walk and I have seen people come out of wheelchairs on numbers of occasions and I am still a novice, I want to see so much more happening! If I don't see many signs and wonders then I started getting tempted to go into intellectualism! I did that 10 years ago. I put on scientific seminars against macro-evolution and I exposed it as totally unscientific because of blind faith religion. I had professors there and leaders of universities there speaking to crowds of 1500 people and yet you don't convert people that way! Their heads just analyse intellectual facts!

I was thinking if we don't see more signs and wonders maybe I should go back and study more apologetics and get more intellectual and persaude people about the existance of God and the reliability of the Bible and that it is not made-up myths but that it is a supernaturally inspired book and give evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and intellectual arguments that are persuasive. I realised that is a bad sign that my mind is thinking that! Then I felt the Spirit of God say to me; "You and City Church are about to enter into a realm of greater signs, wonders and miracles and the enemy is trying to mock the very idea of miracles and signs and wonders. He is trying to scorn the very idea!". You go and pray for the dead and don't see them live; "Ah! You see it doesn't work!". He is trying to mock and scorn! I came away encouraged though - thinking I am going to do this again!

I have prayed for 50 cripples and seen maybe seven or eight walk. I want that to get to 50 out of 50! I have to fight through the same cynicism as you have! You have no idea what my intellectual university brain was trained with! Some of you think I am gifted with some lucky charm and never live with doubts and unbelief and cynicism and skepticism! You must be crazy - you don't know how I have to wrestle! I know some of you that come under a spirit that wants to mock the very idea of doing miracles. That is not you! There is a demonic spirit that is anti-anointing! Anti-Kingdom and anti-authentic gospel!

This gospel is not just about grace but about God testifying to this great salvation through signs and wonders and miracles! If you preach grace and don't see miracles then you are not preaching grace!

That is what I love about Andrew Wommack's ministry. He preaches grace and they see signs and wonders. He raised his own son from the dead when he was black - that is how far dead he was! You preach grace and there must be confirming signs and wonders and miracles! That spirit of cynicsm - how many of you have felt when you hear preaching on miracles or going for a run and out somewhere quiet, and you think about miracles and you hear a voice saying; "Eugh, it won't happen - it can't!". We have seen them! They have happened! Not just in the UK when we saw hundreds! And in Dubai - where I just got an email from the "Power Encounter" conference I was at and people who couldn't fall pregnant for years and now babies are coming! Miracles can be pulled in or out from inside of you and we have seen miracles!

In the Hong Kong Glory and Grace in the fire tunnel that little boy came through with a squint eye and the next morning he came running up to me pulling on my pants as I am trying to get out the door; "Rob, Rob! Look at my eyes!". Eyes perfectly normal! God straightened his eyes! We have seen miracles in Hong Kong! That couple from Sri Lanka - she had big scarred ridges on her back and scars had completely disappeared! Those are miracles in Hong Kong! Not in the UK or in Africa but here in Hong Kong! We are seeing miracles in Hong Kong! Sally sitting over there had her hips turned around in this building! If I see a thousand attempts to heal someone and a thousand people are prayed for and one gets miraculously healed without any argument - if 1/1000 gets a miracle then it is evidence to me that God does miracles today!

We haven't seen one but dozens even in this year! But as grateful as I am and we need to applaud God, I know with a burning ache while I was on holiday that Hong Kong is a city destined for miracles. This city has not been known as a city for signs, wonders and miracles! Jackie Pullinger in bringing drug addicts off heroin through speaking in tongues is a great sign and wonder! But I am talking about churches that regularly see the blind see and the cripples walk! Mighty manifestations of cancers disappearing and lumps going! The dead being raised! There is very little evidence of that in 100 years of the church being in Hong Kong! I felt God say; "It is Hong Kong's time for signs and wonders - it is our time to move into that realm!". I preached a whole message on how to overcome disappointment! When you pray for the sick and nothing happens! Your children ask you; "Why did they die?" and you don't know how to answer your children! I talked about how to overcome disappointment and we must do that.

But without signs and wonders and healing - we are not manifesting an authentic gospel. A biblical gospel will have signs, wonders and miracles and healings!

Balance that with what I said at the beginning. We are not going on a religious high. We don't live from miracle to miracle but from faith to faith - from glory to glory - from Scripture to Scripture. But if you live that way you will see the miracles!

You have got to keep contending because if you don't contend then the vast majority of the church worldwide if it doesn't have prophets and apostles and evangelists and teacher/pastors contending, passionate, overcoming their own disappointments, their own cynicism, their own skepticism and unbelief - pushing through the demonic lies, if you don't have leaders like that then the church will gladly settle quickly to sermonettes on a Sunday and dead religious rituals and laws and superstition and guilt and doctrines of demons!

It is so vast around the world that when the true gospel appears there is such hatred against it and such a reaction in certain parts of the earth! But I tell you what there are people standing up around the planet right now and preaching the gospel that Paul preached and it is gaining momentum and signs and wonders are gaining momentum and around the world there is over 176, 000 people being saved every day! Every day! It is a documented record of hundreds of resurrections from the dead - documented records in books today! The dead are being raised! Mighty miracles are happening! We live in Asia and in China and God knows that the Chinese must see signs and wonders and miracles! Even sophisticated Hong Kong people! I want to say this - that you will either be a mimic-er and a follower or a pioneer and an initiator. You will either live in the fruit of the breakthroughs of others or you will breakthrough yourself.

Where would this world be - in the natural - if we didn't have men and women through our history that overcame the formidable intensity and the savage opposition of skepticism and cynicism and the scorn and mocking of people who dared to believe and dream that there was something possible that is greater than what we can see right now with our eyes?

Any inventor, any person that breaks society and history into another dimension had to endure hell and opposition and even their friends and close friends and members of their congregations or political groups and educational groups that mocked them and ostracised them as fanatical fringe and madmen. In their hearts there was a dream that they felt that something greater than what they see can happen! They are the initators! What would this world be without the Wright brothers who believed men could fly on wings? Now we fly all over the world and take it for granted! But imagine when there were no planes flying and the Wright brothers were saying they believed they could find something to overcome the law of gravity and can have men fly around the world! The people mocked them! We have such an inbuilt desire to be loved and understood and accepted and patted on the back - and that is the problem. We have a need for man to recognise and approve of us and accept us. That's why you have so few inventors and initiators because they are constantly afraid when they try and fail and the scoffers mock them!

The Wright brothers believed and they were mocked! The people said if God wanted us to fly then He would have put wings on our backs. That is arrogance! And the Wright brothers flew and got wings and took off! Roger Bannister said man could run a mile under four minutes and he was mocked - he broke it and then everyone else started breaking it! I have run the mile under four minutes but I am a mimic-er! I am a follower! He was the initator! Eddison invented the light bulb and tried over a thousand times and each bulb failed. One day he created a bulb that worked and he said that over a thousand times he learnt what didn't work until he got what did work. Today at the flick of a switch we turn on lights but we forget that there was a man that was mocked. In the natural - the world would be a poor place if everyone were mimic-ers and mockers and scoffers of those who have the guts and the courage to step out and say "I can't stand passivity! I can't stand apathy or status quo - I believe there is a God who can do things differently and better in the nations of the earth!". The Church is like a sleeping giant! The Church is a place where there is so little change taking place but we are subjects and partners with a God who creates and brings initiative and transformation and revolution! He is not the God of stagnation but the God of creativity and diversity and colour!

I am SO frustrated sometimes at how quickly churches settle for the lowest religious common denominator of happiness and peace and personal victim mentality! The majority of Christians pray for the sick a few times and if it doesn't work then they back off and formulate a theology to legitimise and accomodate blatent evil hearts of unbelief and then they mock and scoff at those who step out and fail! Well we may break a thousand lightbulbs but one day that lightbulb is going to come on! And almost everyone that is dead that we pray for will be raised from the dead! And all the blind eyes and deaf ears and cripples! In Jesus Name! Because He said; "The works I do shall you do and greater works!".

Those Scriptures haunt me - how can I leave them behind!?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Re-defining Holiness by Ryan Rufus

This sermon was preached by Ryan Rufus at City Church International, Hong Kong on Sunday 2nd May 2009

"The week before I preached a one-word title message called "Rest" and this morning I have a two-word title message called; "Re-defining Holiness". I am excited to preach this word and I believe God is excited about this word this morning. It is His Word and He wants to do something here this morning. "Re-defining Holiness" - re-defining what holiness is.

Living a holy life should never be defined as "living without sin". In fact sin has got nothing to do with holiness at ALL!

We have been programmed to think that it does and this morning I want to undo that programming. The religious world has made not sinning to equal holiness. They have made that the most important issue for the church today. The religious spirit across the world today is trying to put pressure on leaders to preach more on holiness and not sinning and it seems so virteous! But it is a demonic deception and many are blindly falling prey to the religious spirit. This morning I want to come out strong. There are some things in the Body of Christ that need to be smashed down today!

The lie that says "If you don't sin then you are holy but if you do sin then you are unholy" - that is the 10 Commandments right there! What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "Holy". Stop sinning? If that is the first thing we think of when someone says "Be holy" then it means our minds have been programmed by the law to define what holiness is.

Holiness has got NOTHING to do with sinning or not sinning! If that is what we think, then we think WE are the cause of our holiness and I am telling you there is only ONE Person who is the cause of our holiness and His Name is Jesus Christ!

If you are in Him, then YOU ARE HOLY! You don't have to try and be holy or get holy - you ARE holy!

Hebrews 10:10 - it is amazing that this is in the Bible. "We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". You have been made holy once and for all! Now I am going to try and define what holiness is and it isn't complicated.

God was holy long before sin ever existed. In fact God's holiness could not be referenced to sin at all. Sin wasn't around! If we limit the holiness of God to the mere abscence of sin then we are limiting His awesome holiness! God's holiness is far greater than just the abscence of sin.

What is holiness then? Holiness is who God IS. God IS holy! If you are in Him and born again then you are holy!

The sin of Adam that we were all born into - we were made sinners (Romans 5 says) - and it is the sin of Adam and our state of sin that seperated us from God. Now it wasn't that sin was unholy. It was the seperation from God that was unholy.

A state of seperation from God is a state of unholiness.

Then Jesus came and offered the once-for-all sacrifice that permamently removes all of our sins and makes us blameless before the Father. He made us righteous and blameless and because of that we were able to come into God. It is the coming into God that makes us holy! People confuse holiness and blamelessness! We mustn't confuse the two. Blamelessness is the removing of our sins. Holiness is the coming into God. Let me read to you Ephesians chapter 1:4; "He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight". Blameless is us becoming righteous. Holy is us coming into God.

Now holiness is not about what you DO. It is about where you ARE. Where you ARE will affect what you DO.

So the question is; "Where are you?". If you want to understand what holiness is then you need to understand where you are. So where are you!? Ephesians 2:6 tells us; "God raised us up with Christ" - that is being born again. "And seated us with Him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus". You are seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus! That is where you are! That is your heavenly position seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus! What else is true about this heavenly position? Ephesians 1:3; "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that is in Christ Jesus". Your heavenly position is that you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. God cannot bless you anymore in the heavenly realms - He has fully blessed you in Christ Jesus! You have received every blessing in the heavenly realms!

Your heavenly position in Christ is that you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ! Colossians 2:9, 10 says; "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and you have been given fullness in Christ". Other translations say "You have been made complete in Christ". That means you can't receive anymore fullness in your heavenly position in Christ! That means you have been made absolutely complete in your heavenly position in Christ! Some of you are looking like you don't believe that! You need to see where you are! We are not talking about your flesh or your soul but your spirit that has been made alive with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly realms! How can God be in heaven and also living inside of you? That is the glory realm! It is multi-dimensional and don't try to understand it with your mind! You have been given fullness in Christ! That means you don't have to try and achieve anymore righteousness or achieve anymore perfection. You have got 100% righteousness and 100% perfection and 100% obedience and love and faith and authority and health and riches! And 100% victory and passion and access to God all the time! That is your heavenly position in Christ!

What is your heavenly position? It is that you are seated in the heavenly realms and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus and have been given fullness and made complete in Christ. You have been made holy and complete in Christ and that is your heavenly position!

Living holy is not about living without sin! Living holy is about living from your eternal heavenly position in Christ Jesus!

That is holy living! That is holiness! The Greek word for "holiness" is the same word for "sanctification" and it means two things. 1. Seperation or seperated or seperate. 2. The life that flows out of someone who has been seperated. So you have been seperated from your old life of sin and we are talking about what it is to become holy. It means you have been seperated from your old life of sin in Adam and you have been brought out of that and into Christ and seperated unto Christ and brought into your heavenly position in heaven. Now the life that you live flows out of that place. Or at least it has the potential to flow out of that place because if you don't see and have revelation of that place then you will live your life from this natural earthly place.

To live holy is to live from your eternal, heavenly position. To live unholy is to live from your current earthly condition. It has got nothing to do with sinning. It has got to do with position. It has got to do with where you are living from.

The truth is we live in our current condition from our eternal heavenly position. Sin is not unholiness - it is the by-product OF unholiness. Or rather it is the by-product of not living from our eternal heavenly position. If you were to live 100% from your eternal heavenly position you would never sin while in your current condition. But it is not about sinning anyway! The religious world makes it all about sinning! It is all about what you have got to do and what you have got to change! It is all about behaviour modification and it is trying to put behaviour modification on your current condition. Forget behaviour modification! Forget change!

Forget trying to change your character in your current condition and SEE your heavenly position! As you SEE your heavenly position then THAT begins to flow through your current condition!

The religious world makes holiness the most important issue. I believe holiness is the most important issue but not the way the religious world has defined it as living without sin. God wants you living holy - they say! God wants you living without sin! Actually God is not that interested - and that is not God's priority! God's priority is that you live holy - but that is living from heaven! From your eternal position! We have got to seperate the concept of sin from holiness and see heaven!

When you define holiness as living without sin, people automatically think if they stop sinning then they are holy! That gets their focus on themselves, on their flesh and on their human efforts and makes them think that not sinning is the cause of their holiness. But there is only one cause of holiness and that is Jesus Christ! And if you are in Him then you are holy forevermore!

Now to live holy is to simply live from that place where you are in Him and are seated and given fullness in Him and that is it! That will get your eyes off yourself and onto Him and who He is and who He is in you and who you are in Him. The more you see that the more that will begin to flow through here.

The more you see your position the more you begin to live from your position and the more you begin to live from your position the more you will overcome sin but greater than that the more you will see heaven coming to earth through your life and the more you will start doing the works Jesus did and greater works.

God did not leave us on earth to see how much sin we could overcome! He left us on earth to see how much heaven we could bring to earth through our lives!

The religious world says "Produce fruit!". It is actually so important and serious what I am saying this morning. God is shifting mindsets in the body of Christ and bringing down the lies that have blinded men and women for centuries and bringing them to see true holiness. How they have limited what holiness is and how they have got people involved in what God is not involved in! God is involved in seeing heaven come to earth! The more you over come sin but the more that realm breaks in through your life! At the end of our lives we are not after saying "God I didn't sin!". That's useless! We want to be able to say that we walked in all the things He had for us in this life. We want to see heaven come to earth and see this world shaken and thousands of millions saved and brought into the Kingdom. The religious world says "Produce fruit! Change!". Grace and truth says "No - get established in the love of Jesus Christ!". I believe the way we get rooted and established in the love in Jesus comes through seeing our heavenly position, seeing what He has done for us through His love in Christ and taking us up and seating us in the heavenly realms and giving us fullness. The more revelation we get and the more we see the heavenly realms - that is faith! Faith is seeing the heavenly realms! It is not about what you DO - it is by faith. Simply believing. Simply see by faith the heavenly realms.

The more you see by faith your heavenly position - then the more your current condition gets rooted in the heavenly realms and the fruit of being rooted up there will show over here! You don't even have to make it manifest. You won't be able to stop it manifesting.

The religious world tries to pull on leaves and branches to make the tree grow. Forget it! Feed the roots and the tree will grow and produce fruit! Get rooted and established in the heavenly realms and the fruit will show up in the earthly realms!

If you don't see that holiness is about living from your position and who you really are, then when you read Scriptures about holiness - you will assume all they are talking about is not sinning - when in actual fact they are trying to say that if you live from your position in the heavenly realms then you will not only overcome sin but you will see heaven coming to earth and you will see the kingdom coming to earth!

Go back and read all the holiness Scriptures! People will send me emails about this and that Scriptures and that is fine! I am for that because I believe this with conviction! Go back and read with conviction!

Bill Johnson says; "Our destiny is to go to heaven but our assignment is to bring heaven to earth!". My version of that is that; "We have already achieved our destiny because we are already seated in heavenly places and now the life we live, we live from heaven to earth bringing heaven with us!".

You could say the more you live from the heavens, the more the heavens will show up in your life. It is not bad to live from the heavens. Don't mock people who are always in the heavens and living from the heavens. You need to live more from the heavens - you need to be truly more holy! That is the appropriate way to say that! When you hear that you don't think; "Me, my, what I must do, my sin". You think, "Him and what He has done and how awesome He is". As a consequence of that faith errupts in your heart to lay hold of the things that are yours in Jesus Christ. I want to leave you with this thought.

The more you find out about your position in heaven, the more you find out about your potential on earth.

You have the potential for total victory over sin! You have the potential to walk in divine health! You have the potential to walk with God in the glory realm 24 hours a day, great wealth to finance nations, blessed with every spiritual blessing, to continuously hear the voice of God day in and day out, to raise the dead, to do the works Jesus did and all that God has planned for us to do! I don't preach on faith! I am not against faith. Some people focus on faith. Preach the thing that produces faith and you won't even have to preach on it! Same with sanctification - forget about it! Don't worry about sanctification! Focus on the things that cause sanctification! Stop trying to preach obedience and holiness but rather the things that empower it! Sanctification is not about trying to sin less and less but learning to live from hte heavenly realms more and more. It is not about trying! But seeing! Seeing who you really are! The church preaches too much about who you aren't. A sinner - filthy, disgusting! No - you need to hear who you really are! Son of God! Righteous forever! Perfect! Seated in the heavenly realms! Blessed! Made perfect! Holy! Made complete! That is your true identity!

"Come and undo in a moment centuries of false doctrine".

"It doesn't matter what abusive leaders were against you - He is for you! And He is representing your minstry to the world!".