Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series
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Summary: The need to pray for the UK

RICH.

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, and, over the last year it’s buzz has been getting louder. So I’ve come to you to ask for help – help to stop its buzzing.

But first let me start with a story:

One day, a long time ago in South Africa, a man was kneeling digging in a river bed. He was a gold prospector, and had been for many years. Every now and then he found s nugget or two - just enough to provide him with food and drink for a month or two, and just enough to keep his hopes up for that great strike which would one day make him a rich man. Now, the river he was digging in was new to him, and there were more signs than usual of the presence of gold, so he became quite excited - but, once again he found little of substance. As the weeks, and months went by, he became more and more exhausted until the day came when he decided to go home. As he left he saw some pebbles- he liked the look of them, and slipped them into his pocket - about a dozen of them.

When he got home he put the pebbles into a tin, a tin filled with specisl things – like letters from his son, a photo of his wife who'd died some years before, the collar of a dog who had lived with him, but had died 18 months earlier. He put the tin on a shelf in a cupboard.

10 years went by and he still hadn't make the longed for gold-stike. and now he was old, and ill, with no money to pay for a doctor - and so he died. A few days later the police came to his old wooden shack, which was dropping to pieces, and they found him there, dead. They looked through his belongings to see if there was anything they could sell to pay for his funeral – but found nothing of any value.........THEN THEY FOUND THE TIN!. As one of them looked through it, he gasped....... "LOOK AT THIS", he said to the other officers. He was pointing to the pebbles the old man had placed there 10 years before: "They're uncut diamonds" he said: "They're worth a fortune".

The old man had been very rich, but had died thinking he was a pauper, because he just hadn't seen that what he thought were ordinary pebbles, were the great riches he had been searching for all his life. He had missed seeing that those pebbles were the answer to his longings.

JESUS lived a "GOLDEN LIFE" – a POLISHED DIAMOND LIFE - the kind of life which was a challenge to those who lived around Him - Living, loving, serving His Father the way He did could hsve separated Him off totally from people who considered themelves "ordinary", making them feel small and hopeless, longing to live the way He did, but totslly powerless to do so. They could have given up, and settled for their powerless poverty stricken way of living, for the rest of their lives.

Jesus knew this, but wouldn't leave them with that feeling - and that’s when He told them, "anyone who believes in me, can live the way I do. He will do the works I do and even greater works shall he do, because I go to the Father.............. ANYONE! ANYONE! ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN ME".

Was that a lie or was it the truth?. The Book of Acts tells us that, after Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, His disciples continued to do the things that He did - On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus came upon them, and they began to live as Jesus did, they performed miracles as Jesus did, they loved as Jesus did, they healed as Jesus did.

And this went on for century after century, the Church grew and grew and spread through the whole known world. It grew because every Christian had a job to do, a job for Jesus, a life to live for Him – yes, even greater works were being dome throughout the whole known world, by ordinary men and women just like the ordinary men and women in this Church today. Yes even greater works because there were more and more of them to do them, over a wider and wider area.

And then it began to slow down, and stop, and the gifts of the Spirit began to disappear– I wonder why? – why did the Church run out of steam? Was it around the time that the members of the Church began to rely more and more on its Clergy. As their Ministry became more and more important, so the ordinary people and their ministries faded into the background – their gifts dwindled, and they began to believe that only Ministers could

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