Rev Anne Hibbard
Introduction and opening prayer
This is a message for all the leaders within the Christian church . I believe that the Lord gave this message for all of us. He wants to speak to us at this time. May the Lord bless us as together we listen to this message. Letâs pray.
Father, thank you so much that you are not silent, but you talk to us through your word and the Holy Spirit. We pray that you would open each leader of your Church around the world to understand what you want to say. Help us understand, so that we might be able to go forward together in obedience to you. In Jesusâ name we pray. Amen
In this talk, Iâm going to be speaking to you about what it means to have grace in the centre of the church and what it means to have Christ on the throne in our own life and in the church.
CHRIST ON THE THRONE AND MINISTRING BY GRACE
If each leader lives with Christ, as our Saviour and Lord and with Christ on the throne of our life, it should impact every group, every ministry in the church. It will affect us as leaders of our churches because we wonât be holding with tight fists. We wonât get discouraged if numbers go down, we wonât get anxious if people arenât coming. We will be continually releasing into the Lordâs hands the ministry or group we are involved in. It is by grace and grace alone that our churches are going to be growing. It will not be by our hard work. Our part is entrusting our ministry continually to the Lord. That is what we work hard at: letting go to the Lord.
This letting go to the Lord, is an active thing. Itâs not passive. Iâm not saying that we be passive as a church. Rather each level of our church needs to learn to minister by grace, not by our own effort.
ERADICATION OF PRIDE, AND WAITING FOR THE REVIVAL TSUNAMI
The most important thing that the Lord wants to eradicate from the church is arrogance and pride. Iâve seen a picture of an incredible Tsunami, his glory and light, a flood of his blessings waiting to come to the earth. But heâs looking for a church that will give him the glory and not take it for themselves.
Weâre not there yet. I believe when the Tsunami comes weâll see incredible miracles, the dead raised, hundreds and thousands of people coming to the Lord, and the hungry fed. If this Tsunami of revival came to us now we would take the glory. Heâs telling us this by the passage from Matthew 6:1-8 that keeps coming up over and over for the church. We would take the glory, because we have not yet started to live by grace as the church in every aspect, in every part of the church.
Following are some questions that the Lord I believe is asking us. These questions I believe are very challenging for us. I know they are for me. Some of you have already started to live this way. It may be a little easier for you. But the questions are these
1. When we come to our church/ministry , and thereâs no one there or very few, do we get discouraged or angry at others, or do we release it into the Lordâs hands?
2. Do we seek daily to; to let the ministry go that weâve been given into the Lordâs hands praying something like this, âThis is your ministry, not mine. What do you want Lord for this ministry? What is it that you want me to do? Itâs not about me. Itâs about what you want Lord. â
He will speak as we come humbly, as servants. We will learn to listen to Him. He wants to speak to us. He wants to teach us many things.
LETTING GO the SHOW TO IMPRESS OTHERS
The passage from Matthew 6:1-8 is more important to the centre than we have realised because it is about the eradication of show, of manipulation, of intimidation, of control, and releasing us to do things for the Lord.
[6:1] âBe careful not to do your âacts of righteousnessâ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  âSo when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  âAnd when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
In Matthew 6:5-8 Jesus tells us when we pray not to pray to impress others. We instead should pray in the secret place to the Lord
He wants to test us first to see how things are going when theyâre is seemingly not much fruit – whether we can just rest in him and not worry about trying to impress others.
The biggest test will come when there is great fruit. Will we be able to rest in him at that time and let go the temptation to show others how great we are? In times of great harvest, will we be drawing the praise to our self or giving the Lord the glory? Will our eyes be fixed on what others think of us?
DO IT FOR THE LORD
For a moment think of that particular church or ministry you are involved with. In all you do in that ministry , ask the Lord to help you to do it to Him, rather than serving in that ministry to get praise from people. It is important that in all that we do, we do it in faithfulness to the Lord.
Colossians 3: 23-24 says
âWork hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ] Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. â
It doesnât matter if only one comes, or no one comes. When we work faithfully to the Lord, The Lord always does something good even if itâs within us. Whatever we do let us do it for the Lord. Thereâs a humility that grows in this.
God wants to be able to pour out much blessing into the church. But first we will have to face the things in ourselves that are not right. All of us need to be able to do this.
THOSE THINGS WE NEED TO LET GO OF BEFORE THE TSUNAMI REVIVAL COMES
Before the Tsunami revival comes there are things we have to let go. We have to: let go of the striving; let go of the discouragement; let go of intimidation; and of being intimidated. Grace means that we are trusting in God to do this. We are putting God on the throne of our life, of the church.
Heâs asking us, âWill you let me take these things from you?â He wants to do an incredible thing in the church but he cannot move in full power in our midst yet. He will not do it till we are ready, or it would destroy us. If the revival Tsunami comes and we start moving in the spirit, in incredible ways but we havenât learnt that itâs the Lordâs work, pride would overtake us and cause much strife. Imagine the Tsunami revival where amazing miracles will be occurring: cancer gone in an instant, the dead raised, the blind given sight; the hungry multitudes fed; a huge harvest of souls coming to the Lord and growing in faith; signs and wonders the earth hasnât yet seen.
But if we havenât learnt that itâs the Lordâs work, that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, all that happens would puff us up in pride and be empty before the Lord.
WHAT WE SHOULD DO IN PREPARATION
We need to learn that itâs not our works doing this, for apart from him we can do nothing. Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:5
âI am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.â
It is only by His grace that we can do anything of lasting eternal value. Itâs not about our work but His work. We are partners with the Lord. Our part is faith in him (Eph 2:8) and giving ourselves as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God. (Romans 12:1)
BECOMING MORE LIKE CHRIST IN OUR GROUPS
At each level Church we are called to become more like Christ. How are we as leaders, starting to let go of controlling and manipulating our groups? 1 peter 5:2-3 says
âCare for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudginglyânot for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example.â
How are we encouraging those in our group, to speak the truth in love even to those who stand against us, and even to those who are falling away?
It is trusting in the Lord for our work, not turning, into bitterness when we are bad mouthed. This grows us, when someone that we are caring for bad mouths us. We are given an opportunity of instead of becoming bitter, growing in Christ likeness by loving and forgiving this one .
As leaders of the church , we have to be careful that we know what it means to be Christ like when we are spoken against by a member of our ministry. It doesnât mean bowing to what they tell us to do, because then we would come under the spirit of intimidation.
What this means is we keep a soft heart to them. We rebuke that spirit, but underneath we love the deep soul of the person, who is probably very hurt for some reason or other. We learn how to do this as a church. We learn how to love even the enemy.
We love all people. There is no person who is an enemy in our church. We love even the one who speaks ill against us, or against our ministry. Thatâs how we will grow, to become like Christ.
USING POWER IN A CHRISTLIKE WAY
Itâs a part of grace, to do only what the Father does, as Christ did. (John 4:34) Itâs important not to use our power in a incorrect way.
I struggled when a member of our church died. When he collapsed in the church, I went to pray for him and the Lord said âno, itâs his timeâ. I wasnât released to pray. This is a very difficult thing.
The Holy Spirit wants people who will be spirit controlled and led. Do you know what it is when we use spiritual power to do not what the Lord wants but what we want? Itâs called witchcraft. We have to rebuke it in our own life. We donât want it in the church. Galatians 5:16-17 says
âSo I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. â
Itâs very important that we come humbly and only use spiritual power to do what the Lord wants to do. We all have to learn in every ministry that itâs only by the grace of God that miracle working power is here. Itâs nothing that anyone can boast about. We cannot have any arrogance or pride. Everything that happens must be to the Lord
WHEN WE KNOW ITS GRACE THE LORD GETS THE GLORY
So if there is a great harvest the Lord gets the glory. If thereâs only one or two that come or maybe none he draws near. He draws close. He doesnât matter what the outward appearance of fruit is. All that happens is by grace. This is the heart of the church. This is how we become more like Christ with grace at the centre.
It changes how we do church to have grace at the centre, because the focus is not on our own efforts. The grace we are talking about is first for our salvation (Eph 2:8-9) , through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is also by grace that people in our care are transformed to become more like Christ. We have a ministry of Godâs grace. Our part is having faith in what God is doing. And He will do it.
NEED TO GROW IN HUMILITY
We have to grow in humility church. Its the only way. I believe the Lord is crying out to us, saying
âI want to be able to pour out my spirit, but where are the people, the humble people? I canât find them. I will speak through these verses from Matthew 6:1-8. Will they be willing to do all their giving, all their praying, everything for me? â .
Look at Matthew 6:1-8. The prayers we pray must be to the Lord. Our ministries must be for the Lord. Theyâre not for us, to meet our needs for affirmation. Our ministries arenât there so others will point to us and say , look at them , arenât they great, look at the amazing things theyâre doing. It doesnât matter if only one or two people come to our group or a thousand.
REPENTANCE LEADING TO LIFE
We are called to pray faithfully. âUniting Prayer and Fasting. â is a ministry whose aim is to call the church to pray for repentance and revival beginning in our own lives, the lives of our family, church (local and national), town, city, region, country, the world. Next year for before the next Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia we will be having 40 days of repentance leading to life. The Lord is calling us to life. He is calling the church including us to wake up.
TWO HINDRANCES TO LIVING BY GRACE
There are two things that are hindrances to living by grace. The first one is arrogance and pride as shown in Matthew 6. The second is timidity. 2 Timothy 1:7 says â For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. â
Sometimes rather than pride we have such a low self esteem that when something comes against us we donât want to even go back to our group, or even church. We canât do anything for anyone let alone for God. As with pride, with timidity weâre not living by grace either. Ministries can live like this. They start feeling bad about themselves and feeling like failures. Some of our people might be in that place. Praise God that Christ Jesus has come for the sinner.
Itâs by grace we are saved through faith. He wants us to all grow. He wants us to be accountable one to another. (James 5:16) I believe what the Lord is going to bring is a mighty pouring out of his holy spirit upon us. It will be immense. But we are not ready. If it came now, we would fall.
BARRIERS OF PRIDE AND TIMIDITY
We would fall because of these two areas of pride and timidity. You almost think they are the opposite but they are not. Timidity is fear, not fear of the Lord, but rather fear of others, fear of man. In Phil 1:28 it says âDonât be intimidated by your enemies. â
WHY WE NEED TO OVERCOME FEAR BEFORE THE TSUNAMI REVIVAL COMES
When the Holy Spirit came upon the church, thousands came to the Lord, many miracles happened and the authorities of the city became very upset. (Acts 4:1-3)
Would we be willing to have the authorities upset with us, if the Tsunami of the great revival before Christ returns, came here to our city? It may be that the revival will not come to us. This is a test for us. Maybe it will. Maybe it wonât. We might decide, no we donât want this. We have to be ready, that we might end up in jail because of this. We might end up in prison or in trouble with the authorities because we are raising the dead in the name of Jesus Christ. We might be asked to no longer speak the name of Jesus in this city. Are we still willing for this to happen?
OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF CRITICISM AND TRUSTING ONE ANOTHER
I believe we are not yet ready. The Lord is waiting. Heâs asking for a response from us. We are on the eve of something but one of the prime barriers to what God wants to birth is fear or timidity The Lord is waiting to pour out the gifts upon us. However He is waiting for us to overcome both pride and fear, especially the fear of criticism.
Criticism is not a bad thing. We need to learn how to receive criticism. Proverbs speaks much about the importance of receiving criticism in our lives. Prov 13:18; Prov 15:31-32; Prov 25:12; Prov 29:1 . Prov 15:31-32 says
If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the LORD teaches a person to be wise; humility precedes honor.
That doesnât mean we do what everyone says. No, weâd go crazy. We need to learn to receive criticism in humility and bring it before the Lord with a thankful heart. It is as we learn to receive criticism that we will learn to trust one another.
When we learn to trust one another, we can learn to be truthful and say, âthis hurts when you do this. This makes me uncomfortable when you do that.â The Lord is calling us to love one another, and minister with one another. He is also calling us to be truthful with one another, and not be afraid of criticism. This timidity, feeling like we are not worthy is stopping the Holy Spirit coming.
It is true that weâre not worthy. But in Christ we are. We need to find our identity in Christ.
TEST TIME, TIME TO WAY UP THE COST
Thereâs going to be an incredible sweep of his Spirit. Maybe it will be right where we are. Maybe it will not. Weâre in a test time in the church. The Lord is watching and waiting to see whether we are going to yes we want this or no we donât
Heâs not promising that we will be the place where revival comes. Heâs offering something to us, but thereâs cost to it. The cost is not in receiving the gift of revival. That is given to us by grace. God himself through Christ will do all the work in us needed if we say yes. The cost is in weighing up the consequences that will come as the result of revival. Whether it comes or not is up to our decision to accept the gift of grace and accept the cost. Will our answer be âyesâ or ânoâ.
And there are things we have to give permission to God to purify in our life before revival comes. We have to learn to become accountable, face those things in us that arenât good, face them as leaders. John Wesley had accountability groups. Each of us as leaders, need to learn to be accountable to one another, before others can be accountable to us. Accountability best happens in relationship. My husband, Roger and I every day pray about those areas where we are struggling. Heâs my accountability partner. I share with him areas where Iâm struggling, whether itâs loving someone whoâs hard to love, forgiving those whoâve hurt me, or overcoming fear. We then pray for each other in the areas of our struggle. Heâs my accountability partner.
Together as a church we need to have these honest relationships with one another. We need relationships where we can encourage one another to become like Christ. We do this not by giving excuses to one another, and placating each other for our weaknesses. Rather we encourage one another to become more like Christ, by grace, having faith in Godâs action in our lives. This is not by hard work so none of us can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
DECISION TIME, CALL TO DIE TO LIVE
Are we willing to go forward in this? Are we willing to say yes to the Lord? We need to lay down our lives for the Lord, die to ourselves, so that we can say with Paul in Galatians 2:20
âI have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.â
Itâs no longer the Church that lives but Jesus Christ that lives in us. Weâre his bride
Thereâs only one way to live the life of Christ and thatâs to die. To live we need to die: die to sin, die to pride, die to arrogance, die to fear of others, die to control of others, die to controlling others, die to intimidation, die to hatred , die to bitterness, and die to unforgivenes. We need to die to all of this.
Weâre given new hearts, when we believe by faith all that Christ has done upon the cross. (Ezekiel 36:26. We become a new Creation. 2 Cor 5:17 âTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! â
So theyâll be great fruit , incredible fruit, love, joy, that will just pour out into the community.
We are in a time of testing. Jesus went into the wilderness time before his ministry began. (Matt 4:1-11). He already had the anointing. When he was baptised the Holy Spirit came upon him as a dove. (Matt 3:13-17) It was the Holy Spirit that then led him into the wilderness. I believe weâre in that time now as a church. Weâre in a time of wilderness. I donât know how long we are going to be in this place. But thatâs where we are church. We are in a wilderness time.
TEMPTED BY THE DEVIL
And the devil is tempting in this wilderness as he tempted Christ. We are being tempted to make the revival happen now, to make power happen now, to make the huge groups now when weâre not ready.
Weâre not ready. The Lord says weâre not ready. The devilâs trying to say you donât have to go through all the suffering. You donât have to do the part of becoming more like Christ through the trials. You can just jump to where you want. All you have to do is to honour me.
We are not to do what Satan says. To honour Satan to get power is witchcraft, even if we think itâs for the sake of a revival. Itâs got to be the Lordâs will, the Lordâs way, and the Lordâs time. We are not to use our spiritual power to meet our own end. Weâre going to be given power to do incredible things as Christ was given power. When Jesus went into the wilderness after his baptism, he hadnât done any miracles up to that time. During the time in the wilderness the Holy Spirit he passed the tests to use his spiritual power in a Godly way.
When we receive power we canât use it for our own physical desires. We have to be totally, in the will of God, and do only what God does. It canât be self motivated, relating to our own needs. We have to be led completely by the Holy Spirit. There is no other way. This is not an easy thing.
SOAKING OURSELVES IN THE WORD
In the wilderness we may end up being tempted to prove if God is really with us. We are not to put the Lord our God to the test. And we are to soak ourselves in the word. It was through the word that Christ overcame temptation.
We need to ask why attendance at our bible studies might be low. It appears thereâs not a hunger for the word. We will not be able to sustain revival without a hunger for the word. Jesus Christ withstood the test, of the devil, because he knew the word off by heart. He wouldnât have had the Torah with him. He had the Word of God memorised in his heart, in his mind.
Iâve read on the internet how little 4 year old children in South America are learning 8 verses of the bible a week. Instead of the games we are playing, why donât we memorise bible verses. We donât know if weâll end up in a place where we may not have a bible. We need to memorise verses so we will have it with us always no matter what the circumstance. We need to not only memorise but also study the word.
We need to be the church that studies the word of God together, growing in a strong foundation. The Bible, the Word of God is the primary way we understand what Godâs will is for our lives and the church. Itâs not just by the Holy Spirit talking directly to me, although that can happen. However everything must be tested by the word of God. And so how can we know the will of God unless we know the word? We must be connected as a church to the word of God.
Let us open the word of God, study the sword of the Spirit, and pray for that hunger in the word of God in every part of this church. We need to take it apart and understand it.
TIME FOR DECISION and FORWARD TOGETHER IN ONE DIRECTION
The Lord is speaking to us as the church. He is calling us into a new place. The question is we going to say yes, or are we going to say no. Every part of his body needs to come together for us to go in the same direction together, not some saying yes, and some saying no. It will not work.
If we are going to say yes, we need to be all on board together
God is calling us , the bride of Christ. . God, the great I am is speaking to the Church. Heâs speaking to each one of us as leaders of the church. Heâs calling us.
Heâs asking âWill you do this? Will you let go of those things that are not good in you. Will you rise up to become all I call you to be? Will you do this for my glory?â
THE CALL AND A PROMISE
Heâs calling church. Donât be afraid. He will not leave us. He will not forsake us. He will strengthen us to do all that he calls us to do. It may seem impossible, but he is the one that can do more than we can even ask or imagine. He is the one to all glory be praised in the church and in Christ Jesus now and for all generations. He is the one.
SHIFT OF FOCUS
Our eyes need to come off ourselves for that is the whole problem. Our eyes have been fixed upon ourselves. And I speak for myself as well. The Lord has been convicting me that this message is just as much for me as it is for all of you. And it is challenging me to the depth of my core.
And he is asking us, âAre we going to say yes?â The Tsunami is waiting there. I can see it. The Lord is holding it in place until there are a people who can hold it in humility, in grace and in truth.
I believe the Lord has called the Church to this, to carry this, but we need to strengthen and encourage one another, and not be afraid. Itâs time to trust. Itâs time to let go our own effort and trust in the work of the Lord in our life, and in the life of this church. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.
Heâs looking for people who can humbly come to this. Itâs not so people look at us and think, âO how good the ministry is, doing this, doing that. â No, but that we could be faithful in what God is asking us to do humbly in the secret place.
PRAYER FOR LEADERS I invite you to say the following prayer out loud. Let us pray
Heavenly father we thank you for your holy presence. We thank you for every leader in the church, and we pray now that you would give us all courage, courage to be able to rise up and be the people you call us to be. Father we confess before you our pride, the way weâve intimidated others. We confess our timidity, our being intimidated by others. We confess that our eyes have been more on ourselves than upon you. We ask you to forgive us, wash us with the blood of the lamb. Only you can change us as a church to become the bride of Christ that you want us to be. Only you can do this. In our church, in the group weâre leading, in that ministry we have, only you can do this Father. By the power of your Holy Spirit in the name of your Son, we pray all of this; we give you our lives afresh. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
APPENDIX It is assumed that each leader reading this will have understanding of and will have received in their own life the gift of grace that Christ made possible upon the cross. By grace we are saved through faith. It is not by our own works we are saved, but by the gift of God, so that none of us can boast. (Eph 2:8-9). It is also assumed that each leader be passionate about the centre of their faith, and are growing in their ability to communicate this with others. However you might be reading this and not really understand how Jesus Christ can be your Lord and Saviour, or you might understand but have never made the step in your life. My heartfelt prayers are for you. Please feel free to email, firstname.lastname@example.org and we will write to you about how to become a Christian. May the Lord richly bless you
Grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ
Rev Anne Hibbard