Based on a talk given at Grays Baptist Church 15.2.15

LMPG1Films, fear and faith
How many of you remember the 1956 Oscar-winning epic The Ten Commandments? It starred Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Pharaoh.

In 1998 there was the Stephen Speilburg produced animation Prince of Egypt, with Val Kilmer vocing Moses and God, and Ralph Fiennes voicing Pharaoh.

And in 2014, there was Exodus, with Christian Bale as Moses. Apparently while they were making the film, there was a lot of conversation about the Bible and God.

None of these films are entirely Biblically accurate, but they carry the spirit of the original story.

One of my favourite bits from these films are the battle of the snakes in Prince of Egypt. Moses throws down his staff, which turns into a snake. Then Pharaoh commands his magicians to do the same – there’s lots of them. While the ‘baddy’ snakes fight the ‘goody’ snake, the magicians mockingly sing You’re Playing With The Big Boys Now, but Moses isn’t phased.

At the end of the scene, Moses’ staff snake swallows the last of the magician’s slippery shadowy serpents. It’s not made a big thing of in the film – blink and you’ll miss it – but it’s a significant moment in the story.

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what God commanded. Aaron (not Moses!) threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake. Pharaoh called in his wise men and sorcerers. The magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their incantations: each man threw down his staff and they all turned into snakes. But then Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs. (Exodus 7:10-12)

Another favourite bit is from The Ten Commandments. The tenth plague has just happened, and Pharaoh is mourning the death of his first born. Yul Brynner looks despondently into the middle distance and, with bitterness twisted towards his brother Moses, mutters four profound words: “His god IS God.” Awesome!

If you read the story, Moses tells Pharaoh that God commands him to “Let my people go” more than once. In Exodus 9:1 it says that God said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me…”

LMPG2Pharaoh represents the antichrist, cult leader, the arch controller, and his empire is symbolic of the world system, institutionalisation, and religious despotism.

It was from slavery to this that the Hebrews were to be set free – in order to worship the true God.

And, after ten plagues, the Hebrews were set free from slavery, yet they often wanted to go back! There’s a false security in the fear of freedom.

But the believer is neither a slave nor a servant – but a son. Jesus calls us his friends.

Paul wrote about the true freedom Jesus gives. In Galatians 5:1 he says, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

What is the harness (or yoke) of slavery? Things imposed on us by man and not by Jesus.

Authority from God is not given to control others but to help them find freedom. We are only told to control ourselves not control others. We are not meant to have authority over others but for others, on behalf of others.

Jesus has set his people free and Jesus is setting his people free. It’s part of the process of forming his body and cleansing his bride. He’s preparing and equipping. The church is being freed to set others free.

Holy Spirit is at work, softening God’s people. Holy Spirit is freeing up the church to be what it was made to be. Holy Spirit is awakening the Bride of Christ to her true identity. Where Holy Spirit is, there is freedom.

Alan Scott, who leads a Vineyard church in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, says, “The Spirit of God wasn’t given for better services or better experiences. He was given for broken humanity.”

What does this Holy Spirit freedom look like?

Stories at get-up time
In 2014, 2,588 people came to faith in Jesus in Coleraine. That’s 50 per week. Alan Scott’s only explanation is that “Something has shifted”.

The My Hope UK national initiative to encourage and equip the local church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ using The Cross, a 30 minute film featuring Billy Graham, has in the four months since its release seen many thousands come to Christ, with thousands of Christians making rededicating their lives to Jesus.

This is a report for the month of January 2015 from one UK church…

  • Over the last month or so we have seen some wonderful advances in the realms of Healing.
  • A lady with cancer spread all across her abdomen came to the Healing Centre on 3rd January, when she had surgery on 13th January the surgeons found no signs of cancer.
  • A man with a Glioblastoma brain tumour whose brain scan last August, following a visit to the Healing Centre, showed no tumours in his brain, had a further scan in January which showed that there were still no signs of cancer.  His consultant said he had not seen anything like this in his 20 years of medicine and acknowledged it was a miracle.
  • A young boy with Cerebral Palsy showed significant improvement in his movement and speech.
  • A man with a leg condition for 35 years causing discomfort and a limp is no longer in discomfort or limping.
  • A lady with a foot injury 19 years ago says her foot has been healed.
  • A teenage boy with a severe back problem – a vertebra protruded from his back and gave him much discomfort – was restored to playing football the following day, having not been able to before.

Where is this happening? In Ebbsfleet, just 5 miles from Thurrock as the crow flies. It’s unusual for them to not have a testimony of something miraculous happening every week.

The church is awakening to the fact that – as the advert used to say – the possibilities are endless. Maybe this is because nothing is impossible for God. It’s time to get up!

LMPG3Do we want this in Thurrock? Of course we do!

Jesus said in John 8:32 & 36: “Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you… If the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.”

If we have experienced for ourselves the truth, we can free others with that truth. If the Son has set us free, then we are free to free others. Jesus sets them free through us. But we must make the first move.

As Smith Wigglesworth said, “Faith is an act”.

Light and dark
People say that as the light gets lighter, the dark gets darker.

Not true – as the light gets lighter, the dark must recede.

It’s only when the light-bearers don’t shine the light they bear that the dark gets darker. Darkness dominates – or appears to dominate – when the church is dim.

The church is beginning to realise what it has, how to use it, and that it has permission to do so. It has the potential to eradicate all darkness, because dark cannot exist where there is light.

It’s about LOVE. Because Jesus loved us first, we can love others. We can “eagerly seek the greater gifts” because God eagerly sought us with the Greatest Gift – Jesus his Son. Because he so loved the world…

It’s not about ‘look at me’. It’s not about ‘look at the miracle’ – but a miracle is a sign towards Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about love.

And we have Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God and therefore the Spirit of the love that onl comes from God – to help us, guide us, transform us into transformers of a community where transformation is ongoing, normal and expected.

This is why we need equipping…

Following the 2014 Transformation Thurrock Tour there’s going to be a series of three training days for actioning on two upcoming community events.

Transformation Thurrock Training Tour 2015

  • Treasure Hunting  using God’s clues to speak to and pray with people
    • Saturday 25 April at House of Praise, Grays
  • Healing on the Streets – praying God’s healing
    • Saturday 23 May at Gateway People’s Centre, Stanford-le-Hope
  • Prophetic Readings – using visual tools to give God’s direction to people
    • Saturday 27 June: venue TBC

Transformation Thurrock Mission 2015

  • Village Beach Festival at Grays Beach
    • Saturday 18 July
  • The Big Lunch in Grays Park
    • Wednesday 29 July

LMPG4We will be equppied and helped by a team of Firestarters from North Kent Community Church.

Of course, the skills and gifts picked up at the training can be used by anyone anywhere anytime.

In Ebbsfleet, Coleraine and all around the UK, and God’s snake is eating the devil’s snakes! Darkness is being eaten away! The darkness is fleeing! People are being confronted by the FACT that “His god IS God”!

I don’t want to be praying for a revival in the future…

… I want to be the revival now.

Let my people go!

Words and art (“Let My People Go” 2012) by Tim Harrold
Scriptures from The Message