Summary: Will you stop and settle this year or will you be obedient and bless others?
Video “Something New.”
Are you ready for something new this year? My life has begun a new journey. After 34 years of waking up 5 days, a week and delivering bread there is no need to now. After 34 years of job security, I find myself more dependent on God than ever. A new journey has begun and each of you is on it with me. Because what effects me will effect you in some manner. The one assurance I have is I know I am following the call of God for my life. At whitestone ministry our reads “Helping people discover their victory and true identity in Jesus.” I am about to discover my identity and it is a bit frightening.
Has God ever spoken to you in an audible voice? In Genesis 12: 1 we read where God spoke to Abram. “The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.”
I remember the first time God spoke to me in an audible voice. He said, “Read the Book of Acts.” I remember where I was when I heard it, driving down old Hwy 16 in front of Jones’ Exxon. It was not like a voice from my radio or from the sky, but I knew it was more than just a thought. In addition, as if to assure me of that fact I heard it again, “Read the Book of Acts.”
As soon as I got in the house I grabbed a Bible and told Debbie, my wife, that I was suppose to read something in the Book of Acts. As I scanned through the pages, a passage caught my attention. “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. However, if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” (Acts 5:38-39) Then I heard the voice of God again, “Read this to the church.”
I now must pause in my story to give you some background on how challenging this was for me. This episode took place 25 years ago. I was a relatively new Christian. I was attending a church of 3 to 4 hundred. No one knew me. I was the quite type who did not participate in anything. The Pastor and I had developed a relationship but not a close one. I had never spoken before a crowd and never desired too. Nevertheless, I knew I had too.
This church had developed some major issues. The Pastor had taken a stand against certain agendas that had ruffled the feathers of some of the power- driven leaders, which had led to arguments on whether he should be removed or allowed to stay. It was becoming a house divided. On one particular Sunday, there was no chance for any repentance or deliverance because as soon as the message ended all the visitors were asked to leave so a business meeting-shouting shouting match) could begin. This had become so common that once my two small children saw the British Parliament meeting on television and one said “Look Daddy. They are having a business meeting.”
It was this atmosphere that served as a backdrop to this passage, a warning that the church could very well be fighting against God. And I was to give them this warning. I called the Pastor and explained to him that I felt lead by God to read a passage Sunday. He said that he would need to get the deacon board’s approval. I thought that was the end of the matter. As protective as this leadership was, I felt sure that approval would not be given. But I was wrong. He called me back and said they approved my request.
Suddenly my mind was overcome with scripture references that I had never seen; Exodus 32:9, Acts 7:51, Deut 10:16, Proverbs 29:1, John 21:17. What was to be a simple Scripture reading turned into a 15-minute tirade against the leaders and the Pastor of the church. I called wealthy men “stiff-necked” and berated the Pastor for bringing church politics into the pulpit and not feeding God’s sheep with the word. After I had finished my “sermon” and was walking back to the pew, I was suddenly overcome with the Holy Spirit to the point that I would have collapsed if not near my seat. And began weeping because I knew God’s warning had been ignored.
The church split. I left with a group to start a “new work” and we called the Pastor to join us. He did so but began taking the church in a direction that made many felt uncomfortable. Soon our numbers dwindled from 180 to 50. Shortly afterwards the Pastor felt called to move on and left the church in a power struggle between myself and the youth pastor. I had become one of those “stiffed-necked” people. I also left and in doing so caused such unrest that the church was forced to close.