There are a couple of things already that have tainted my excitement of 2008 and the potential it holds and the things I believe God could do. It was with excitement then, that I noticed Rob Rufus chose his first sermon in City Church International to be called this; "What to Expect in 2008?". I have always been told that we should be very wary of the prophetic attempting to look into the future and should focus more on the present. However I've been learning since Hong Kong that actually there are degrees of revelation that God wants to prepare His Church for, for the future. Why else are there so many prophecies (many of which are yet to be fulfilled) in the Word of God?
Here's the notes from what Rob preached - and let me say here and now that I haven't heard such an AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME Rob Rufus sermon! There is a growing in depth and anointing and glory that is so evident to me since I have been hearing and listening to the wonderful material coming from City Church. If we can take what Rob preaches here, then 2008 looks set to be a year of possessing promises rather than simply a "feast of theological concepts";
"I don't think any of us get to the point where we can say; "We don't need any encouragement any more". The Bible says encourage each other daily! I believe in a culture of empowerment - I believe that is the automatic outflow of being a son or daughter of the kingdom of heaven. Our Father is an encouraging Father - He is the God of all hope. People say the most bitter tears of regret are those over a graveyard on a funeral day because they were words never said to that person while they were alive. I don't want to reserve my greatest speech for Glenda's funeral - I want to say them all now.
We had an awesome holiday - it was an absolute delightful rich and fantastic time. I love deep sea fishing - we went out and caught 19 tuna out at sea. It was great. It is lovely to live a full life. We are men and women - not just worshippers, church-goers. It is good to go and read a novel - not just the Bible. Have you ever met Christians who can not do anything but pray, read the Bible and go to church? They are odd and they take themselves too seriously! Everyone wanted to be with Jesus not just because of His healing but because He turned water into wine!
And the evangelicals have been busy trying to turn the wine back into water!
We need to go into 2008 with no regret. Regret is an absolutely useless emotion - there is nothing positive about regret at all. Regret torments the mind and chains the mind to the past. Regret makes us re-live our past all the time and makes people keep looking back with the question; "If only" and "What if". People live with regrets that they didn't study enough, didn't spend enough time with their families.
You only get attacked by the devil in two situations - when you are in the will of God or when you are out of the will of God. He will attack you more when you are in the will of God than when you are not. When the pressure gets on and things don't happen, the devil gets you to make decisions that will end up like nightmares within weeks and months. When you live with regrets, you are looking backwards. Have you ever tried to drive a car for 20 miles looking backwards?
There are two ways to deal with regret - and you cannot deal with it by going back into your past because there is nothing you can do about it. Every person in this room has regrets! You cannot do anything about the "What-ifs" because they are gone. It is futile to try and change your past because you cannot.
Your past is powerless unless you give it power by going back and re-visiting it. 1. Attack your past by going and doing something about your future! Now is the time to see the power of your future! 2. The second way to deal with regret is to get a big picture of Who God is. God can turn a divorce into your good. God can use that to make you a greater person than you have ever been before!
"What-if" is a question we do not know the answer to! We are here to do the obedience of the great King of Kings who is coming back and we are going to give an account for our impact on this planet. We need stable marriage and stable homes - it reflects the Kingdom.
But if that is your goal then it is too small.
If we made their plans and purposes more important than Gods then we would have grown up with the kids feeling that Mum and Dad live to serve me and I am therefore more important than God. Kingdom first! And the kids realise Jesus must be amazing because He is more important than us! Those who make the living God their God will not live with regret. "As for me and my house we will serve God". We were terrible parents! We missed their birthdays! But the kids are serving God!
When Joshua invaded the Promised Land with Israel, they were given promises to inherit. They were given the geographic dimensions of the Land - they were given authority to clear the land of all foreigners and giants. We too have a Promised Land! To see cities shaken with the glory of God! Joshua before he died said; "Everything God has promised me ...". Yet there was still much of the Promised Land not occupied! But the next generation occupied what Joshua hadn't.
As soon as the people stopped fighting and settled down, the signs and the wonders stopped. Miracles are divine provision and coincidences that God brings. Contacts in nations for further advancement. When you put the Kingdom first, God will bless your career and your life. As soon as you put up the white flag and say "I've had enough" - the signs and the wonders will stop and the Presence of God seems far away.
There are sections of the church today that are no more different than pagan worshippers. They have no passion! No faith! No signs and wonders! I love to meet men and women after God's own heart! There is something perverted about making plans for your future without any mention of God! You hear Christians talking about their plans for the future and God is rationalised in, in a reasonable way that God is just my servant to make me happy! 500 years after Joshua, David came and they conquered the entire geographic area of the Promised Land.
A day will come when a people with a David-heart - not settling for partial conquests and partial promises fulfilled and the miracles aren't happening as fast as we want BUT we won't go back to Egpyt and we will go on conquering and taking ground! David committed adultery and murder - check the context - David stopped fighting! As soon as he stopped fighting, he got back into things that can cause regret. Keep fighting! Keep advancing! The purpose of war is to occupy territory so that new occupation becomes a platform for further advancement. If we are not advancing, we cannot keep what we have got! If you lose your fighting spirit how will you guard and protect what you have got? We must learn to not only keep what we have got but ADVANCE!
The most famous person in the world today - the most influential man on the planet today is Osama Bin Laden. Every time you take a plane, you realise that nations will do all things because of fear out of him. Bin Laden was a millionaire but gave his millions away because he wanted to re-create a world of Utopia. Moslems are not worshipping idols! Paul, the apostle - used to be the most influential person on the planet but he was motivated by love not hate like Bin Laden. Paul is still affecting the world today! Bin Laden is so effective that even if the USA find him and kill him - his death will be to his advantage. How many Christians can admit we have a higer purpose than to kill and destroy? Do we have the influence of Bin Laden?
We have the passion and power to be suicide bombers with explosions of glory so we can run into masses and let loose the power of God? Bin Laden has coped with the fact that millions hate him! Many in the church today wouldn't like to sit down with him today!
We are called - this isn't radical preaching - this is normal Christianity! The other stuff has made people live with regrets! A few weeks ago I had to make a hard decision because I was offered to go back on team in Adelaide but I TURNED IT DOWN. I could rationalise why that decision would be good - but my heart said that would be wrong. (Romans 3). The preaching here over the last 3 Sundays was outstanding. Get those teachings - all 3! I hope everyone in this church makes sure you get the CD.
Every Sunday is a supernatural sequence staging us for the next step and if you miss it, you are missing out on a stage!
Everyone should be here on a Thursday in our house to pray! There's nothing more important! "I've got to keep my dogs" ... Shoot them?!! "Let's save the whale!" ... no let's save the nations! If Bin Laden can change the world because of a radicalness - and the church is absent of radicalness - then we are not going to change the world over him.
I want to read a few things and talk about what I believe we can expect to happen in 2008 but need to re-cap what I spoke about last time.
There are two purposes of the Law - one purpose under the Old Covenant and one under the New. The Old Covenant purpose of the law is to give conciousness of sin, to curse you. There is no such thing as the curse of the devil - it is the curse of the law. In the New Covenant when you come into Christ, the law changes it's role and is no longer a judge and prosecutor under you - but the law witnesses that you do indeed have a perfect righteousness in Christ - a righteousness apart from yourself. Once you come to Christ, the law which is the standard of God's perfection and integrity, stands up in the courts of heaven and says; "You - Ryan, Glenda - you have a perfect righteousness that is apart from me. It has got nothing to do with your obedience but the obedience of Jesus Christ".
The law testifies a good report that I am the righteousness of God. Sin is never an issue again past, present and future - it has been taken away at the Cross! I am the righteousness of God! "I have just sinned" ... but I am the righteousness of God! "I have just shot my dog because Rob told me to" ... but I am the righteousness of God! "I lost my temper" ... but I am the righteousness of God! "I just gossipped" ... but I am the righteousness of God!
This teaching of righteousness and grace is more than just you and I feeling God - it is the foundation for us to take over the world!
The purpose of the Gospel is for you to feel confident even when you sin and mess up! It's much more than you just feeling comfortable when you sin and mess up (although it would still have great value). This righteousness is a gift from God not earned. The Old Covenant (Romans 3:19) - "Through the law we become concious of sin". That is how people are living who are not in Christ. But when you come into Christ, the law changes it's purpose (3:21) - " ... which the Law and the Prophets testify". The Law is testifying to your perfect righteousness in Christ! The Law is testifying on your behalf! It is validating the fact that you are unconditionally righteous 24 hours a day 7 days a week! (3:22) - "Comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe - there is no difference". It comes to ALL who believe! Do you believe?
How does this impact the world? Those who believe that are those who become heirs of the world. Those who do not believe that will never impact the world. The light that shines brighter is that which shines at home base. There is a world that God says is our parish. (4:13) - "His offspring receive the promise that he will be heirs of the world but through the righteousness that comes by faith". Anyone who lives under the attitude that my good behaviour obligates God to give blessing then you have missed it.
When there is no law, there is no transgression. 1 John writes - "Sin is the transgression of the law". Once you are in Christ and no longer under law - God doesn't even see you sin! Because where there is no law, there is no transgression! On the Cross, Jesus disarmed the law!
(4:16) - "by grace and guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring ... to those who are of the faith of Abraham, he is the father of us all". Heirs of the world! Jesus said "All authority has been given to Me ... Go and disciple NATIONS" - not just individuals! Those who have faith in Me have global vision to impact nations! NATIONS! It's too - too big to have a strategy for, it's too big to plan for - that will come. The main thing is to stay in will of God believing you are the righteousness of God, living with no regrets, going into your future and keep fighting - keep taking land!
As soon as you stop fighting signs and wonders stop!
From about 7 years ago, God began to start weaning Glenda and me off everything you find your identity in that is not Me. Every area you find approval from man but not Me, I will wean you off it. I said; "But God I am Rob Rufus - I know you! My identity and approval is in You alone!". He said; "We'll see". A lot of pastor's identity is in their church. Too many people in those churches like the pastors because of what they do not because of who they are. So you live with delusions about yourself and they do too because of who they are and what they are not - because they are intimidated by gifts and positions. I was lying in Him in Coastlands and He said to me; "Rob if you will give this church over to me, then I will give you the multitudes". We were co-ordinating an area of Australia and I was leading it! But one day I went away on holiday and came back and it had been taken away from me! They just took it! And I was left on the outside. God said; "I am weaning you. That bitterness you have in your heart? Deal with it boy!". In 2002 and 2003 I felt like a conspiracy - it was! God spoke audibly to my heart one day and said; "Son, man is not side-lining you. I am taking you out of the loop to re-position you for future inheritance and jurisdiction to influence nations which you cannot do in this context. It's too comfortable and too easy for you!".
Everyone in the last few years who have been going through a pruning and weaning process in which you found your approval and identity in and God has begun to move you out of situations with great pain - know this. God has been side-lining you! When you go through the pain that is involved and you wake up and maybe think "Slavery is better - let's go back to Egpypt. We can live without the signs and wonders. We just want peace!". It's not PEACE! It's bland sterility. When you can keep relationships for 25 years that is a sign of maturity. But a new wind of freedom is blowing in the earth and we have to be weaned off dependance for identity. Never never replace God! We must bless each other. We need partnerships and togetherness - but the Spirit of denominationalism will come in when you need those relationships over God.
In my last 3 years in Adelaide, I was travelling doing meetings and I was lonely. In the middle of this, God said; "Son you are in the middle of the biggest pruning ever and yet you are producing the most fruit. If you are producing fruit during pruning then how much more fruit will you produce when you are planted?". And then in 2003 He said "Go to Hong Kong and leave your friends and family. Lay your life down". What?! Will the pruning end when I go? No it won't. 2007 was an in-between stage between the pruning season and the fruit time.
While I was on holiday and was out running, God spoke to my heart and said; "Rob there will be no pruning. You have resisted the seduction. You have resisted the fear of being left out and have chosen to take My inheritance. You have understood grace and now in 2008 there will be no weaning and no pruning - you have come into the fruitful season".
The prophetic helps you live free from regrets because you are living with eternity in your heart.
This isn't just for a preacher! I want to work harder for God - I want to play better and have better holidays and be more than just what I have been doing. I have been weaned, I have been pruned - I am ready for fruit now! I have got books inside me that need to be written! I have got movies inside me that need to be filmed! When God said to the shepherd of the church, He means it is for City Church International! Some of us have been to hell and back as we haven't been deterred from the grace message! It is now time for rewards!
1. God will give us extrodinary, unprecedented favour for endorsement from heaven - and unprecedented global favour from the world. China is too small for those who are the offspring of Abraham! "Global approval - global favour".
2. God will call numbers and numbers of people from different nations to re-locate to Hong Kong and assemble on City Church International. They will leave behind visions of their happy little lives and they will come and learn Mandarin and impact nations. Hong Kong is an international city! Hong Kong is a hub of the world! It is opening up to a world and is right alongside China that is fast becoming the super-power in the world! 95% of preachers live in the world where 5% of the world's population is.
I have been in a group of churches that call themselves "International" yet live where the least population is. I don't think that is God's direction - I think it is comfort's direction. Where is the deployment?
The prophecies I could give to you - revival will come from Asia to awaken darkened Europe! The sun will rise in the East and set on the West! The glory of God will be seen in Asia and will awaken darkened England, and slumbering Scotland!
Christians go to church inducted into the guilt of law. The signs and the wonders stop when you stop fighting and pressing in to take more ground! It is fighters with tenacity that will bury loved ones and will go. The anonymous graves that pock-mark China of missionaries who went without a thought.
Go and live a small little life?! I puke on that with purpose! It is a crime against Heaven to have that mentality! To say I have been gripped by grace and gripped by God yet all I want is a nice little life!
The adventures that God will give to those who just walk with Him! You can live with no pain and little joy and yet have no purpose. Eternity is coming! The end of the age is coming! We are living with lost people around us! In 2008 God will call numbers of people to Hong Kong who are already trained and equipped. They are trained in science and administration.
They will come who aren't trained and equipped but with raw talent and we will train them! I speak it out - I call them out in Jesus Name! Come and invest your life!
There is 1 billion, 200 million unsaved in China - there are whole cities with no Christian witness. How are we going to train them? With groups? You train on the job! Every Thursday night I am training people to lead meetings! I am going to start coaching people - I am going to ask people what they think and what they do. I don't want academic theorists, I want people who can do the job! Western academic conceptualisation knows nothing about doing it "on the job".
Conceptual knowledge rather than experience. Heart experience not just concepts!
3. I expect resources to come from the nations into Hong Kong. We need millions! We need our tithes and offerings to come in from the nations! I believe God will pay for where He is directing us! There is a big bill to be paid God - but you can do it!
You bring your tithe to where you are being fed. You don't get cursed if you don't tithe - that is law! It is an investment into eternity.
Tithe to the local church in which you go. If you are tithing to another church - then go to them! You don't eat at MacDonalds and pay at Burger King. There is something wrong in feeding somewhere yet paying somewhere else!
4. I expect God and believe He will open up unprecedented doors. God is that our door!? It's open! Let's go in! Let's go through!
5. God will place expectation in the hearts of people who come to sew into City Church. I may not go - but I will stay here and build City Church. Preachers, administrators, greeters. We are going to impact orphans! We must invest! If this is not a base that is not getting stronger and stronger - then our preaching out there is invalid. If that is the case then I am just a Harvard lecturer preaching concepts. I am as bad as a surgeon who kills people when he operates and then goes around the world lecturing on how to operate. We are not into wish-ions but visions!
Vision connects your vision with reality and brings practical administration.
People are going to make eternal decisions to stay and invest in this church and get it stronger and stronger. Glenda and I will never put pressure on you to stay in this church. I don't want anyone to stay because I have emotionally manipulated them.
We make our decisions and then our decisions make us. What we are today are the decisions we made in the past.
I will never stand before God one day and hear Him say; "Why didn't you say everything you should have to that person? Why did you just smile and say that is fine?". I wish I could be just a nice guy!
6. I expect us to see unprecedented global favour in partnerships and associations with other apostolic/prophetic leaders that are not part of a wide thing and don't want a network but just partnerships. I have made a conference call to some of these leaders who don't want a President or a Pope but just want relationship. Paul wasn't even a leader of a team!
As soon as you get a head over a whole organization you have got a Pope by definition and everyone has to get permission from HQ as to what you do!
God will give us global partners of men and women of influence and we will link up relationally. There are ever-expanding partners and men and women will come and help us and we will go to them and their nations and help them. And we will raise up sons and fathers to release more sons. There is a free-flowing winekin in the New Testament not Popes!
7. With global favour and global endorsement from heaven, God will conspire to collaborate with us to give evidence and proof of this endorsement with magnificent signs and wonders not just with us but those who partner with us. I will never be a President of an organisation. The fluid-ness of the New Testament isn't static.
Father in the Name of Jesus, we thank You that You've called us to be alive in 2008. Thank You for the pioneers who came and poured all their years into Hong Kong and their influence will continue and grow. Thank You for the Chinese Christians. Thank You for the ex-pats who have come to this city and as Christians they are ambassadors of Your Kingdom and they have used their mouths to share the Gospel. I thank You for the missionaries who have come and made sacrifices and thank You we have opportunities this year.
We don't want to look back in 2009 with regrets being seduced from our highway of destiny! Let everyone of us in this room come to such a revelation of the Gospel that we are the righteousness of Jesus and that You have guaranteed us a promise to be heirs of the world - to have greatness about our name, to be a blessing to all nations! That all who bless us will be blessed! And all those who curse us and stand against us will be judged by You. Father we are part of that offspring and that generation. Father we want to exploit this to it's optimum. We want to leave footprints in the sand of human history. This Gospel can stop religious wars and wars. This Gospel can bring the peace of heaven to earth.
Our assignment is not to go to heaven - our assignment is to bring heaven to earth.
Let us not just occupy what we have but let us keep advancing because if we do not it will be lost and taken away. Father we want to be like those who take our talents and make risks and fail but Lord we want to be those people who took our talents and kept on fighting to the very end because we made decisions based on eternity. We ask at the beginning of 2008 for every member of this church. We love each one.
God let us as a people positioned at the climax of the consummation of the ages make Osama Bin Laden seem tame. Not to kill people with bombs but to bring the Glory-Gospel to all we can.
Let us pay the price and make the decision. City Church International - look at us and see our hearts. Father be pleased with what you see - we do know our hearts before You and we don't want to be hi-jacked by anything else. Let us not re-visit the past. Thank You today that You turn it all around for the good and use our failures and our bad decisions and our broken relationships for our good. Thank You God - today we believe You will use it for good. You are our righteousness. Let us stand".