1.THE CHURCH IN 2011 – CITY OF GRACE CHURCH
Normally our church calendar starts after the annual Newfrontiers West Africa churches’ conference and ends with the next conference, so from February to February. We usually run with the theme of the conference and any other thing that God has said specifically for our church situation. For the year ending 10, God has said to us to walk with him in faith.
Denis wed Gloria
John Ford and the team from king's church kingston.
WHAT GOD EXPECTS FROM HIS LEADERS: TO BEAR THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Michael Akotia, City of Grace Church, Ho. Ghana
The fruit of the spirit was never intended to be a demonstration of our dedication and resolve. It is the evidence of our dependence on and sensitivity to the promptings of the spirit. – Charles Stanley.
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodnesss, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Which is of greater importance to you: what you do with your life or how you can become like Jesus?
A. What has ‘bearing the fruit of the Spirit’ got to do with leadership?
1. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is evidence that the leader is dependent on and sensitive to God the Holy Spirit. These are the kind of leaders that God is looking for.
Jer 3:14-15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.
Acts 13:22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'
2. God gives success to those leaders who depend on him.
II Ki.18:5-7 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no-one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook...
John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful
3. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit makes us become like the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is one of God’s major aims for saving us.
Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Becoming like Jesus in character is a major requirement of being a leader in God’s church.
1 Tim 3:1-13 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.
7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. 8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
We tend to focus mainly on what we want to do; He is more concerned about who we are -our character. His greatest desire is not to turn us into workers, but to make us like his Son.
B. God’s priority for you as a leader
God wants to see Christ’s character in you. When you became a Christian, Jesus gave you his righteousness, but he did not transform your character – in some cases, some character changes happen with conversion but not all, it continues later. You do not always reflect his humility or patience, kindness or compassion. You do not always say the things he would say, or do the things he would do. Righteousness is instant, but Christlikeness is a lifelong process.
Character: a person with a good character is one who lives to please God and does what God says while a bad character is one who does not do what is pleasing to God.
Jesus was perfect in the fruit of the spirit. Fruit and not ‘fruits’ because they belong together – we should be cultivating all of them. They are of the Spirit because it is the Spirit who produces them. We cannot manufacture an orange, we sow a seed, which grows into a tree, and in time we get the fruit – orange. In the same way, we cannot manufacture love or strive to get love, peace etc. We obey the spirit, he produces the fruit in us and we become more like Christ.
C. So how does this work in practice?
Well, let us say you are tempted to sin and want to do it because you can justify it. The trouble is, you can hear an inner voice whispering, ‘No! Do not give in to it.’ That is the spirit working on your conscience, telling you that what you want is not right. He will give you the power to resist the temptation, but he cannot force you to obey him. You choose whether you respond to him and ‘walk by the spirit’ or you ignore him and ‘carry out the desire of the flesh’ (Gal. 5:16).
If you refuse to listen to your fleshly desires and always choose to obey the Spirit, you will notice that you are changing and you will gradually become more like Jesus (you will think, speak and behave like him).
If you ignore the spirit on a day-to-day basis, you will not develop his fruit. You may have the most amazing spiritual gifts, but you will lack the character of Christ. In time, you may even find out that you lose the ability to work out what is wrong and what is right because you are no longer sensitive to the Spirit as the word of God reveals below;
19 The acts of the (sinful nature xx) flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity(dirtiness) and debauchery (Dishonesty, decadence); 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord(conflict, confusion), jealousy(suspicion, distrust), fits of rage(outburst of anger), selfish ambition, dissensions(rebellions), factions(sections) 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Consider these sins one by one and ask God to show you whether you are involved in any of them. If you are, confess them to God, receive his forgiveness and ask him to help you not to get involved in them again.
D. How to bear the fruit of the Spirit or developing God’s character
(Refer to, John Kpikpi, July 2010.The Gospel and Good character development: Why and How. Rebuilding Leadership message notes).
2 Pet 1:3-7 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
We learn from the verse above that, at salvation, God did what was necessary for us to be able to LIVE godly lives – we now have the power to - so it is now our responsibility to live out this life. This can be achieved through the following means;
§ Openness to the Holy Spirit. Be willing to accept rebuke and new ways of obedience from the Holy Spirit. Through your conscience or leaders or other people.
§ Live a life of prayer, worship, Bible study and service.
§ Resisting the flesh by having your mind set on what the Holy Spirit desires (Gal. 15:22-26). How? Paul has a suggestion in the verse below,
1 Cor. 14:1 Follow the way of love .........
Paul encourages us in the verse above to follow the way of love in bearing the fruit of the spirit. Love is the first part of the fruit of the Spirit to be mentioned and it seems it is the key to the rest. If you do not love, you will never be joyful, peaceful, patient etc. Follow the way of love and the other fruit will develop as well.
Also the following verses teach us that what distinguishes us as born again Christian is love.
John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
I Jn 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 Pet 1:22-23 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
E. What is Love?
Paul explains the qualities of love in the verses below;
1 Cor 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails …
a. Love is patient, kind and not envious. – When people treat us badly our natural tendency will be to lash out at them. But love holds back and expresses kindness, even when that kindness is undeserved.
§ Love does not boast, is not proud, rude or self-seeking. - When we become the boss, it is tempting to think, ‘They should serve’ and you order them around. But love does not act arrogantly or selfishly. It is humble and has the interest of others at heart.
§ Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. – on occasion someone in a senior position may be getting all the credit for what others are doing. We may think, ‘It’s unfair’ and feel angry. Although love recognises injustice, it refuses to be provoked. Love instead of keeping records or wrongs for future attack repeatedly overlooks personal offence.
§ Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. – When people sin, we quickly condemn them but love tries hard to interpret their action in a more positive way. Love enjoys focusing on good than evil.
§ Love always protects trusts and hopes. - Love accepts that people are not perfect and readily excuses their faults. It prays God’s greatest blessing on them and treats its worst enemies as though they were its best friends.
§ Love always perseveres and never fails - When we are in a difficult situation, we may protest and try to rebel. But love endures hardship and leaves everything in the hands of God. God who sees everything will vindicate us in his time. Our job is not to battle for our rights, but to show love – the quality of love only the Holy Spirit can give, the love that never fails.
§ Love comes from God.
Rom 5:5 ... God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Pray and ask God for more love if you feel you are running out of love.
A new elder joins michael in the city of Grace church, Nov 11
THE MEDIA AND CHURCH PLANTING
Michael and Mabel Akotia live at the radio station.
THE IMPACT OF MEDIA (RADIO) IN EVANGELISM AND CHURCH PLANTING
How can the church effectively be involved in advancing the rule or the return of Jesus the King in the world or advancing the kingdom of God? The answer is through evangelism and planting of churches. Churches are started when the preaching of the gospel bears fruit, so for more churches to be planted, there must be an effective preaching of the gospel and all churches must find ways of preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all people groups and nations so as to plant more churches to advance the kingdom of God in the world. The church would have achieved her purpose as revealed in the scripture below;
‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.’
There are about five (5) ways the church can be involved in advancing the rule of Jesus in this world:
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat
18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done--
19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way round to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
How can we advance or extend the rule of Jesus/God to people and situations through words? I suggest the media – radio, as one of the most effective means for this.
The Radio, Evangelism and Church Planting
How City of grace Church is using the radio to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom in the Volta region of Ghana and plant churches.
The Volta region has a population of about 1.5 million people. We have a radio ministry, which was five (5) years in March 2011 and it reaches the whole of the Volta Region and other regions like the Eastern and Brong-Ahafo that share borders with the Volta region and a nation, Togo. Once a week on Monday mornings for thirty minutes we preach at 5:00 – 5:30am and is helping tremendously in touching and in many cases beginning to ‘disciple’ the region with the message of God’s Grace.
We have received invitations from schools in the region to come and preach and do seminars on some of the messages we have been preaching on radio for the entire student body. These were opportunities to rebuild the next generation and our nation! The radio station has offered us the opportunity to broadcast our church service for one hour in every six months on the radio on a Sunday morning. This will demonstrate to many what happens when the church meets together.
Three churches have joined our movement when their founder listened to our radio messages.
A couple now travelled a hundred and two (102) Kilometers to come to church with us and have done our foundation course and we started a cell group in their home which has now been planted as a church. Others who also live far from our church in Ho, have also ask for us to come and take them through our discipleship courses after responding to the gospel preached on radio.
An elderly man, who is a regent/chief and regularly listens to our radio broadcast traveled about seventy kilometers to see me on how he can free himself from chieftaincy issues and live for to please Christ. (The gospel is bearing fruit in everywhere)
There are people who attend Rebuilding the nations conference in Accra as a result of regularly listening to our radio broadcast and have responded to the gospel.
We have also demonstrated the power/goodness of the kingdom of God as we prayed and the sick and were healed over the radio. We have also helped many people to become part of God’s kingdom though the telephone by which they contact our church after listening to the radio message. Many have telephone to testify to healings and experiencing the Holy Spirit. People whom we could not have reached otherwise are being reached through this means.
Many opportunities have been created for us to plant cells/churches in various parts of our region as a result of the radio work. It has helped to gather people for new church plants without any other effective evangelistic event. We now have Ten churches in five years from the start of the radio broadcast.
The merits of the Radio as an effective means of proclaiming the Gospel and planting churches.
Seeing the tremendous benefits of using the radio to proclaim the gospel and to plant churches, we intend to continue with it and improve the work by doing the following;
1. To have an elder in charge of the radio ministry who will provide contact and ongoing care for the unseen church.
2. To build a team that will respond to requests of discipleship and starting cell groups to grow into churches.
3. To have an office where messages preached on radio and produced in the form of manuals or recorded on CDs could be made available and also help them to meet the church. And also offer counseling.
4. Create CD’s of messages to be played at other radio stations that covers areas which we do not cover and especially if we feel God is leading us to plant churches in those area or regions or nations
5. To build a radio station for the church to reach the nations with the gospel of God.